Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Kenneth Johnson is no stranger to success. His latest novel, the supernatural thriller “The Man of Legends,” was recently released by Amazon’s 47 North and is among the Kindle Store’s current top 100 bestsellers.
The book follows a cursed but heroic man who does not age and cannot die as he has history-changing encounters with icons like Mahatma Gandhi, Herman Melville, Percy Shelly and Albert Einstein.
Johnson’s award-winning career in the entertainment industry spans a half century. He was the creator of the hit TV shows “The Bionic Woman,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Alien Nation” and “V” and was producer of “The Six Million Dollar Man.” He has earned multiple honors from the entertainment industry, including a Primetime Emmy Award and a number of Emmy nominations.
“The recurring theme in all my work is discovering one’s reason for being,” Johnson said.
He said he has known his own reason for being — storytelling, whether it be through writing, directing or producing — since his days at CMU.
“Going to the drama department at Carnegie was like going home,” said Johnson, who earned his undergraduate degree in drama from CMU’s College of Fine Arts in 1964.
In addition to his awards, Johnson has been praised for his creative pursuits by The New York Times, New York Daily News and The Wall Street Journal. The Philadelphia Inquirer summed it up: “Kenneth Johnson … knows how to make magic.”
Johnson has compiled so many legendary stories in his television career that the title “The Man of Legends” might work for an autobiography. There was the time he declined a job offer from then presidential candidate Richard Nixon, and the handshakes he shared with Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Or the times he jumped out of a plane, conducted underwater demolitions after learning how to scuba dive, and listened to Simon and Garfunkel play “The Sound of Silence” live for the very first time.
“I’ve lived quite a dramatic life,” said, Johnson who lives in Los Angeles with Susan, his wife of 40 years, and two golden-retriever rescues.
Johnson expressed hope that a screen adaptation of his upcoming novel is in the cards. The recent success of Amazon Studios with award-winning films like “Manchester by the Sea” and television shows like “Transparent” convinced Johnson to choose Amazon’s 47 North over offers from other publishers.
As for the future, he says he has no plans to slow down.
“I have this vision of me dragging a respirator around the set behind me, screaming ‘Cut!’ and then dropping dead,” he joked. “Susan is actually making me a needlepoint that says ‘D.N.R.’ Her attitude is ‘if he falls over while he’s directing, let him go. He was doing what he loved to do.’”