Harry Johnson: Mr. America Died

Scrolling through facebook I found the tragic news: Mr. America Harry Johnson has died. He died at the age of 96! Cause of death: respiratory failure

Some informations about Harry from Bill Pearl’s facebook page:

Paul Anderson Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson, the 1959 AAU Mr. America winner, won the event over 27 contestants held at the Interstate Fairgrounds in York, Pennsylvania. He was 35-years-old and had entered the contest each year since 1952.

Rat Routledge, Jr., of the United States Air Force, had tied Johnson for first place with 84 points out of a possible 100, however, the judges finally voted four to three in favor of Johnson.

At the height of five-feet, nine-inches and weighing 186 pounds, Johnson’s neck measured 17 inches; upper arms, 17 inches; chest, 48 inches; waist, 30 inches; thighs, 25 inches; calves; 16 3/4 inches.

Johnson became the oldest to win the most coveted title in bodybuilding at that time. When he took his place on the victory pedestal, his wife ran on stage and gave him a hug and kisses, as photographer’s camera lights flashed.

An excellent represenative for the title, Johnson toured throughout the United States performing exhibitions and demonstrations regarding health and fitness, but usually received only a few dollars and expenses. For every paid appearance he performed, he gave ten free to schools, Boy Scouts, and Boy Clubs. “Being Mr. America meant more to me than money, “he said. “I wouldn’t trade that for a million dollars.”

Johnson won the 1966 AAU Master’s Mr. America crown at his final bodybuilding competition. Unlike many Mr. America winners, he did not go into the gym business, but retired from the tooling division of Lockheed Aircraft Company in Marietta, Georgia.

Bodybuilding Accomplishments:
1949 Junior Mr America – AAU, 3rd
1951 Mr South – AAU, 2nd
1952 Mr America – AAU, 16th
1953 Mr America – AAU, 14th
1954 Mr America – AAU, 5th, Junior Mr America – AAU, East , 1st, Mr Southern USA – AAU, Winner
1955 Mr America – AAU, 5th
1956 Mr America – AAU, 6th, Universe – AAU, Short, 1st
1957 Mr America – AAU, 3rd
1959 Mr America – AAU, Winner
1966 Masters Mr America – AAU, Winner

Picture: Harry Johnson with Paul Anderson, photographer: unknown
Thumbnail photo by Doug White, Edited by me

3 thoughts on “Harry Johnson: Mr. America Died”

  1. I met Harry when he was performing music in/for home for elders here near Decatur . And I saw him in bodybuilding contest in Chatt . TN about 1958 . He also did what he called his muscles to music dance or routine which brought the house down . Have you ever seen that? It’s on film he told me . But who has it ? 16 mm I think .

    • 👋 Harry was my step father. I read your comment about the muscles music dance. I do believe I have seen it, several times. Never got old. You could try to contact his oldest daughter. She may have, or know something. She was the one who carried out and settled the estate. Maybe you could send me your email, and I would send you my sisters name. You could find her on FB.
      Take care 🙏🏼

  2. Harry Johnson was my step father. He and my mother, Joyce Leonard Dressler, his first and last wife, remarried in 1998.
    I remember when he would go around doing music “gigs”. That man enjoyed the hell-o Pete out of that. I do not remember a single time, when I would visit my mother, that Harry did NOT Flex upon my entry. He was so proud of his physical condition. And with good reason…at age 75-80, he had a body, a 25-30yo would kill for. Joyce and Harry worked out, at a gym in Lawrenceville, GA, no less than 3 times a week, up until 2008. They were the envy of, most all, the younger, fit individuals. (and they knew it) 😉 Joyce passed away in March, 2011, which left Harry, “lost”. I miss them, both, a lot. 🙏🏼


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