You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Johnny Stearns

Johnny Stearns, half of the duo in one of TV’s earliest sitcoms, “Mary Kay and Johnny,” and one of the original producers of “The Tonight Show,” died Saturday Dec. 1 at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, Calif., after suffering complications from a fall in late November. He was 85.

“Mary Kay and Johnny” debuted in 1947 on the old DuMont Network, moving to NBC the following year, CBS the year after that and then back to NBC for the rest of its run, which ended in March 1950.

The 15-minute show, debuting four years ahead of “I Love Lucy” and eight years before “The Honeymooners.” starred Stearns and his real wife Mary Kay as newlyweds starting life together in New York City. The couple, who indeed were newlyweds when the show began, were married for 55 years.

When their son Christopher was born in December 1948, they quickly added him to the cast, and he made his first appearance on the show, which was broadcast live, a month later.

Born in Billerica, Mass., Stearns began his acting career at age 14 at the Mary Arden Theater in Peterborough, N.H., and as a member of the Peterborough Players, a summer theater troupe his mother, Edith Bond Stearns, started in 1933.

He went on to become one of the original producers of “The Tonight Show” with Steve Allen on WNBC-TV in New York.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, a daughter and three nieces.

A funeral was set for Saturday Dec. 8 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Corona del Mar, Calif.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the Peterborough Players, P.O. Box 118, Peterborough, N.H. 03458.

More Scene

  • Dylan O'Brien, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett,

    Travis Knight on Getting the Call to Direct ‘Bumblebee’: ‘Did You Guys Get The Right Number?’

    “Bumblebee” director Travis Knight admits he couldn’t believe it when Paramount Studios and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura called him two years ago, asking him to helm the upcoming “Transformers” movie. “My initial question was, ‘Did you guys get the right number?'” Knight joked at Sunday’s premiere of “Bumblebee” at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. “You’ve seen [...]

  • Director Peter JacksonWarner Bros. Pictures THEY

    Peter Jackson Talks Transition From 'Hobbit' Movies to World War I Documentary

    Peter Jackson remains a bit astounded at his transition four years ago from the Shire of Middle Earth to the French battlefields of World War I. Jackson introduced his documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” Friday night at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood, four weeks after it aired on Armistice Day on the BBC. [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

  • Children's Defense Fund

    Angela Bassett, Conan O'Brien Honor Young Students at Children's Defense Fund Gala

    Awards season may be right around the corner, but on Thursday, Hollywood took a break from the glitz and glam to celebrate five high school students who have excelled academically despite facing extreme adversity both at home and in the classroom. The 29th annual Beat the Odds Awards ceremony at the Skirball Cultural Center featured [...]

  • Dolly Parton attends the world premiere

    Dolly Parton Hopes to Perform 'Dumplin'' Song at the Golden Globes

    It’s not easy to upstage Jennifer Aniston. But everyone at Thursday night’s premiere of her new Netflix flick, “Dumplin’,” seemed to be singing the praises of Dolly Parton, who earlier in the day received a Golden Globe nomination for “Girl in the Movies,” one of half a dozen new songs she wrote for the film. [...]

  • Lena WaitheVariety's Power of Women, Arrivals,

    Who Lena Waithe Thinks Should Replace Kevin Hart as Oscar Host

    Lena Waithe thinks Kevin Hart could have handled his Oscar debacle in a much better way. “I kind of wish that he would have taken a moment to let it be a teachable moment and to say, ‘Hey, what I said wasn’t right and I want to make that right,’ not just to keep the [...]

  • Christie Brinkley32nd Annual Footwear News Achievement

    Christie Brinkley at 64: 'Women My Age Cannot Allow the Numbers to Define Them'

    Christie Brinkley may be turning 65 next year, but don’t you dare try to tell her what she should — or shouldn’t — wear. “I think women my age cannot allow the numbers to define them. We need to constantly redefine the number,” Brinkley told Variety on Tuesday at the Footwear News Achievement Awards in New [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content