CANDY JOHNSON WILL SHIMMY NO MORE

Sadly, just heard that Beach Party fave Candy Johnson passed away last week from undisclosed causes in Corona, California where she had been living quietly for years. Her screen career was as fast and fleeting as her dancing but for fans of the beach movies she was beloved by all.

Dubbed “Miss Perpetual Motion” by a Las Vegas columnist, Candy Johnson was the early ‘60s most famous go-go dancer. The energetic bouffant blond twisted her way into nightclub fame and then into drive-in movie nirvana with appearances in four beach movies—Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), and Pajama Party (1964)—where she did little more than shake her fanny in tassled minidresses or bathing suits knocking the surfers off their boards with her wild gyrations and enthralling audiences worldwide.

Though Candy Johnson did not make any films for AIP during 1965, she was still touring for the studio promoting the beach films. New York City audiences finally got a chance to see her exciting stage act as she headlined the Gay New Orleans Nightclub on Bourbon Street at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and 1965.  Reportedly, she twisted her way down Broadway for an International Variety Club charity event and performed during intermission of a double-header Mets – Braves baseball game at Shea Stadium. She then disappeared from the public eye. Rumor had it she became a choreographer or that she married a golf pro and settled down to a life of domesticity. I could not verify either as I tried a few times to track her down for an interview without any luck.

 

 

 

 

Comments: 12

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  • John Black

    Sorry to hear that. I recall that Candy Johnson was also a record producer for a very small label (it might have been her own label). One of the records she produced was Meredith McCrae singing “Image of a Boy,” which was a soundalike version of the Safaris hit “Image of a Girl.”

     
     
     
  • Michael H

    Wow, how sad. Feels like a piece of my childhood just died with her. Always appreciated her frenetic energy and dancing in the beach party films. Hope the rest of her life post-AIP was fulfilling and happy. RIP Candy.

     
     
     
    • Yes, it is sad. We lost so many of the beach movie gang in last few years: Aron Kincaid, Mary Hughes, Jody McCrea, Linda Opie, Alberta Nelson, Don Edmonds, Suzie Kaye, Bobby Pickett, etc.

       
      • I hadn’t heard that Linda Opie passed on also. : (

         
    • No Michael, it was not. Our mutual friend went to visit her couple of years ago in Corona. Very sad outcome, to a very vibrant young lady. so sad.

       
  • So sad to hear this. Thanks for the info. She was a highlight in those AIP beach flicks. A true ’60s icon!

     
     
     
  • tabby

    So sad RIP candy im so glad that I got to be a part of ur life in corona and a blessing I enjoyed the friday popcorn and movies and I never forget the how much u enjoyed my cooking classes and ill never forget what u called me ” kid O” cause im so young . I know ur ddancing your heart out in heaven miss ya luv tabbi “kidO”

     
     
     
    • So cool that you knew her. I tried to find her to interview for my books but always came up empty.

       
      • She was a great person and at birthday party in corona she LOVED to dance and she enjoyed showing her movies to other residents Rip candy

         
  • Amy Beckham

    Have a question…Does anyone know who her parents were?? I was told she was the daughter of my grandfathers brother(Floyd Jones). Floyd passed away in Oklahoma about 1974 and my grandfather in 1990. I was 13 when my grandfather passed and he was in his 80′s so I hadn’t even began to think of researching any of his family. Any help would be wonderful. Thank you.

     
     
     
    • Sorry I do not know who her parents were. She may have been born in Illinois in 1942 or 1944 (records differ), but grew up in San Gabriel, California.

       
  • Stewart

    Candy Johnson (February 8, 1944 – October 20, 2012) was an American singer and dancer who appeared in several films in the 1960s.
    She was born Born Victoria Jean Hulstead in Los Angeles, California, and graduated from San Gabriel High School. Her most notable films are the American International Pictures Beach Party films, in which she played Candy a girl who could dance so hard it would literally knock the guys off their feet. In the first film in the series, Beach Party, she is credited as the “perpetual motion dancer. She remained a part of the series for the next three films, with her last appearance in it being in 1964 in Pajama Party, where she had a small cameo role. [1]
    She also recorded under the name “Candy Johnson and her Exciters.” The Exciters were a band her agent Red Gilson managed and partnered her with. The recordings of Candy and the Exciters were released by Canjo records, a private label started by Johnson and Gilson in 1964 to capitalize on her club and film appearances. Canjo was in business for only one year and released two albums and seven singles.
    She also appeared at the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens, New York. After seeing her show, the New York rock group The Strangeloves were inspired to write their hit single “I Want Candy,” which reached #11 on the Billboard charts. The song would be rerecorded by a number of artists over the following decades including The Tremoles, Bow Wow Wow and Aaron Carter.
    Candy retired from performing in 1968 and subsequently led a private existence, eventually settling in Corona, California. At the request of friends, she did attend a special showing of “Beach Party” at a Los Angeles theatre in 2006. Candy did not plan on making a public appearance during the showing. However, after seeing the audience reaction to the film Candy allowed her friends to let the house manager know that she was in the audience. When the film ended, the organizer of the event announced to the crowd that Candy was in attendance and she rose to wave and take a bow. Johnson received a standing ovation.
    After being diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2012 she remained in a Corona, California Convalescent Hospital where she died of the disease at age 68 on October 20, 2012.

     
     
     
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