Bayard Johnson, Who Wrote ‘Tarzan’ and ‘Jungle Book’ Movies, Dies at 63

bayard johnson dead
courtesy of Lilly Hansen

Bayard Johnson, a screenwriter and producer, died February 10 in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 63.

Johnson wrote and produced feature films for Warner Bros., Disney, Sony Pictures, MGM/UA and 20th Century Fox. He made two feature films in Africa and wrote movies based on both the classic Tarzan character (1998’s “Tarzan and the Lost City”) and on Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” (1997’s “The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo”). His first African movie, “Damned River” (Zimbabwe, 1988), written with John Crowther, is among the top 20 action movies of the 1980s in the Netflix database.

With partner Bill Duke (director of “Deep Cover,” co-star of “Predator”), Johnson co-wrote a TV series for HBO and produced a feature film (2007’s “Cover”) about the HIV epidemic.

In 2015 Johnson’s director son Colter Johnson finished production on a film, “Man in a Cage,” from a script by Bayard and Colter Johnson, but is currently without a distributor.

With partner Russell Means, Johnson co-wrote the feature screenplay “Wounded Knee 1973” and the 2012 book “If You’ve Forgotten the Names of the Clouds, You’ve Lost Your Way: An Introduction to American Indian Thought and Philosophy.” Also with Means, Johnson co-wrote, co-produced, and directed the award-winning short film “Looks Twice,” based on a traditional Lakota story.

With Mother Nature’s Army he has released a number of albums including 1992’s “Live At Mama’s” and “Coming To Get You 2014.” Johnson produced “LSD: Leary/Stokes Duets” (1997) with Timothy Leary, and “The Radical” (1996) with Means.

Born and raised in Seattle, Bayard Johnson studied philosophy and writing at the University of Puget Sound.

He is survived by his parents Richard and Virginia Johnson; his wife Lyndal; two sons, Ronan and Colter, a director and editor; a brother and two sisters; and two grandchildren.



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  1. Fernando padilla says:

    Bayard was also a well known and very respected coach at Los Amigos Pony Baseball League in Santa Monica.
    He was great with kids. I was President of the league, and really admired his coaching style.
    I also had the opportunity to coach against Bayard, he was very knowledgeable and very competitive.
    He was a great father to he son Coulter. He coached Coulter till he was at least 16. He was at almost every one of his games from Pony Leage to high school.
    I appreciate the time and dedication Bayard gave to our community of Santa Monica.
    He will be missed.
    Coulter, we are truly sorry for your loss. Please let us know if you need anything.
    Sincerely Fernando ,Kyle and Adam Padilla

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