Brad Johnson, star of the Always and Left Behind series, passed away at the age of 62

Actor Brad Johnson died in February as a result of COVID-19 complications, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Many people remember him from Steven Spielberg’s 1989 fantasy drama Always, in which he and Richard Dreyfuss compete for Holly Hunter’s heart. (Unfortunately for Richard, he’s a ghost.) Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Johnson was a regular on television and in cable movies, and he was the co-lead in the Left Behind series. He was 62 years old at the time.

Johnson, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona, dropped out of business school to pursue a rodeo scholarship at the College of Southern Idaho. He worked full-time on the rodeo circuit until his knee was injured in 1986.

The 6’3″ square-jawed hunk went on to work as a model for Calvin Klein, Busch beer, and, yes, Marlboro cigarettes.

“The Marlboro Man was a cultural icon in the United States. In 2019, Johnson reflected on his place in tar-stained American folklore for MEL Magazine, saying, “For the longest time, he was on the same level as 007.” He did admit, however, that he had never been a smoker. “However, I lit a million of them,” he admitted.

Johnson’s first significant acting role was in Always, and while it didn’t catapult him to stardom, it did keep him busy, with appearances in films like The Philadelphia Experiment II and episodes of the Outer Limit reboot. In 1991, he starred alongside Danny Glover and Willem Dafoe in John Milius’ Flight of the Intruder, and on the mid-’90s nighttime soap Melrose Place, he played Dr. Dominick O’Malley, Daphne Zuniga’s love interest. (Recall that there was a big debate about whether or not Jo Reynolds should accompany him to Bosnia.)

In the late 1990s, he was the executive producer of the syndicated action series Soldier of Fortune, Inc., the first Simpson/Bruckheimer television production. Dennis Rodman co-starred in the show’s second and final season.

Johnson co-starred in Left Behind: The Movie with Kirk Cameron in 2000, which went from a direct-to-video release to a theatrical release. The adventure-drama series was based on Christian end-of-the-world novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. It was groundbreaking, and had enough of a legacy for reboots and spin-offs, despite not being the breakout hit that some faith-based films that followed it were.

“Brad relished the opportunity to improve and enhance land in a way that preserved and respected its natural beauty. He was always happiest when he was outside, and his love for the land was palpable. Brad loved nothing more than his family, as much as he loved cowboying, hunting, and the outdoors,” his family said in a statement.

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