Johnson, Martin, 1884-1937

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Exist Dates

October 9, 1884 - January 13, 1937

Biographical or Historical Note

Film maker, Explorer

Martin E. Johnson was an explorer, expert photographer and filmmaker. Johnson went on his first expedition to the South Pacific, then returned with his wife for a second expedition. On joining the Explorers Club in 1921, Johnson met Carl Akeley and the two began forming the Martin Johnson Expedition Corporation. The idea was to use Johnson's popular films as a way to raise money for the Akeley African Hall at the American Museum of Natural History. The Johnsons went on five expeditions to Africa; during the second expedition (1924-1928), they made their most famous film, Simba, king of beasts, released in 1928. Along with the AMNH Martin Johnson Expediton Corp., the film was financed by Talking Picture Epics and other corporations. Osa Leighty Johnson met her future husband at the age of sixteen, married him a month later, and helped him with his tour of his first film, South Sea Island Adventures. After the five African expeditions, the Johnsons made an expedtion to Borneo, 1935-1936, and planned a new lecture tour with their resulting film. Their plane crashed on January 13, 1937, killing Martin Johnson. Osa survived to complete the planned tour in a wheel chair. She later published two books about her life with Martin Johnson, made silent lecture films and narrated a TV series. She died on January 7, 1953


    Library of Congress Name Authority File
    From biographical note for Johnson's archive collection at the AMNH Library, Mss .J63-.J65, written by Ann Herendeen.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History. Akeley Hall of African Mammals.
With Osa Johnson took photographs which served as reference for the hall's habitat groups.
Johnson, Osa, 1894-1953

Related Resources

Martin Johnson papers, (bulk 1923-1937)
Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Mss .J63-.J65

Written by: Iris Lee
Last modified: 2018 October 1


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