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Clark Johnson

Clark Johnson in Karlovy Vary, 2009
Born September 10, 1954 (1954-09-10) (age 55)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupation Actor and director
Years active 1983-present

Clark Johnson (born September 10, 1954),[1] sometimes credited as "Clark 'Slappy' Jackson", "Clarque Johnson", and "J. Clark Johnson", is an American actor and director who has worked in both television and film.




Early years

Johnson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to an African American father and a White mother. The family eventually moved to Canada.[2] He attended Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. He has three siblings[2] including jazz singer Molly Johnson and actress and singer Taborah Johnson.

Johnson's football prowess took him to Eastern Michigan University on a partial scholarship, but he was kicked out after he was caught stealing turkey dogs from the school cafeteria.

He attended several other schools including Loyola and the University of Ottawa before ending up at the Ontario College of Art as a film major. He went on to be drafted by the Canadian Football League, and even played short stints with the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers before he decided he'd "better try and get some sort of job."

Johnson started in film doing special effects, including David Cronenberg's The Dead Zone. This behind-the-scenes work often served as a "backup" for him during the early stages of his acting career.

He began doing feature film work in 1981, landing roles in the movies Killing 'em Softly, Colors, Wild Thing, Adventures in Babysitting, and Nowhere to Hide. He also acted in a number of television shows early in his career, including Night Heat, Hot Shots and E.N.G.

Homicide: Life on the Street

In 1993, Johnson became part of the original cast of the television series Homicide: Life on the Street playing Detective Meldrick Lewis for all seven seasons and the reunion movie, as well as directing several episodes. Johnson regularly improvised during filming and made up his own jokes and dialogue; writer and producer James Yoshimura called Clark the "king of the ad lib".[3] Though the ensemble nature of the show meant that Johnson always filled an important role in the series, he became an even larger presence after his character was paired with a new partner, Mike Kellerman (played by Reed Diamond). The two detectives became the central figures in a plot line surrounding a Baltimore drug lord whose financial resources and front as a devoted community servant made it nearly impossible for the police department to bring him up on charges. Johnson made the transition to director with the season four episode "Map of the Heart".[4][5] He also directed "Betrayal",[6] "Valentine's Day",[7] "Full Court Press"[8] and "The Twenty Percent Solution".[9 ] Author of the non fiction book Homicide was based upon, teleplay writer and producer David Simon commented that the transition from actor to director was made easy by Johnson's familiarity with the show and that he was one of the better directors in terms of keeping the tone of the show consistent.[5]

The Wire

Johnson also worked on The Wire, reuniting him with Simon. Johnson directed the pilot,[10][11] second episode,[12][13] fifth episode and series finale. He appeared as Gus Haynes, the fictional, principled city desk editor of the Baltimore Sun in the fifth and final season.[14]


Johnson's other directing credits include the big-screen releases The Sentinel (2006) and S.W.A.T. (2003), and episodes of Third Watch and The Shield as well as the HBO original production Boycott (2001), a project which he helmed and in which he also acted. He also directed the first episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 of the 2005 mini-series Sleeper Cell.



Nick of time - Cab Driver


  • The Wire TV series (2002-2008)
  • Sleeper Cell TV series (2005-2006)
    • Episode "Al-Faitha" (2005)
    • Episode "Al-Bagara" (2006)
  • The Sentinel (2006)
  • N.Y.-70 (2005)
  • The Jury (2004)
    • "Lamentation on the Reservation" (2004)
  • The Shield TV series (2002-2008)
    • Episode 1.01 "Pilot" (2002)
    • Episode 1.03 "The Spread" (2002)
    • Episode 1.05 "Blowback" (2002)
    • Episode 3.01 "Playing Tight" (2004)
    • Episode 3.02 "Blood and Water" (2004)
    • Episode 6.04 "The New Guy" (2007)
    • Episode 7.13 "Family Meeting" (2008)
  • The Secret Service (2004)
  • S.W.A.T. (2003)
  • Boycott (2001)
  • NYPD Blue TV series (2000)
    • Episode "Lucky Luciano" (2000)
  • The West Wing TV series (2000)
    • Episode "Six Meetings Before Lunch" (2000)
  • The Beat TV series (2000)
  • Third Watch TV series (2000)
    • Episode "Nature or Nurture?" (2000)
  • City of Angels TV series (2000)
  • The City TV series (2000)
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit TV series (1999)
    • Episode "Sophomore Jinx" (1999)
  • Homicide: Life on the Street TV series (1996-1998)
    • Episode "Map of the Heart" (1996)
    • Episode "Betrayal" (1997)
    • Episode "Valentine's Day" (1997)
    • Episode "Betrayal" (1998)
    • Episode "The Twenty Percent Solution" (1998)
  • Welcome to Paradox TV series (1998)
  • La Femme Nikita TV series (1998)
  • Fast Track TV series (1997)


  1. ^ Clark Johnson Biography (1954-)
  2. ^ a b Lee, Felicia R. (2008-01-04). "Bittersweet Work of Wrapping ‘Wire’". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-11.  
  3. ^ Yoshimura, James. (1998-11-04). Anatomy of "Homicide: Life on the Street". [Documentary]. Baltimore, Maryland: Public Broadcasting Service.  
  4. ^ "Map of the Heart". Clark Johnson, Writ. James Yoshimura, Michael Whaley. Homicide: Life on the Street. NBC. 1996-04-26. No. 19, season 4.
  5. ^ a b David Simon. (1998). Homicide: Life on the Street season 4 interviews. [DVD]. NBC.  
  6. ^ "Betrayal". Clark Johnson, Writ. Tom Fontana, Julie Martin, Gay Walch. Homicide: Life on the Street. NBC. 1997-01-10. No. 12, season 5.
  7. ^ "Valentine's Day". Clark Johnson, Writ. Tom Fontana. Homicide: Life on the Street. NBC. 1997-02-14. No. 16, season 5.
  8. ^ "Full Court Press". Clark Johnson, Writ. David Simon, Philip B. Epstein. Homicide: Life on the Street. NBC. 1998-04-03. No. 18, season 6.
  9. ^ "The Twenty Percent Solution". Clark Johnson, Writ. David Simon. Homicide: Life on the Street. NBC. 1998-10-30. No. 04, season 7.
  10. ^ "Episode guide - episode 01 The Target". HBO. 1999996. Retrieved 2006-07-24.  
  11. ^ "The Target". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-02. No. 1, season 1.
  12. ^ "Episode guide - episode 02 The Detail". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-07-26.  
  13. ^ "The Detail". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-09. No. 2, season 1.
  14. ^ Wiltz, Teresa (September 3, 2001). "Down to "The Wire": It's a Wrap for Gritty TV Series". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-03.  

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