John D. (Johnny) Benson, a veteran stuntman who upon retirement developed a new career as an assistant director and production manager, died April 16 of an undisclosed illness at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. He was 80.
Benson came to Los Angeles in the mid-1930s and worked as a stuntman until 1940, when he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a flight instructor.
After Pearl Harbor he returned to the U.S. and joined the U.S. Navy.
Following the war, he was back in Hollywood as a stuntman, doubling for Ingrid Bergman in “Joan of Arc,” for Donald O’Connor in “The Buster Keaton Story” and for David Niven in “Around the World in 80 Days.”
Retiring from stunts in 1961, Benson became assistant director and unit production manager for the TV series “Route 66.”
He subsequently worked as an a.d. and UPM on numerous TV shows, including “Starsky and Hutch,” “Wonder Woman” and “Love, American Style.”
He also served as executive production manager for several feature films, including “Song of Norway.”
He retired in the mid-1980s and moved to Carlsbad with his wife of 47 years, Nora.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, a daughter, two grandsons and three granddaughters.