‘The Neighborhood’ Wendell Johnson Was a Hollywood Production Design Veteran

His career demonstrates the life of often unsung heroes of television production

Key Takeaways

  • Johnson’s career spanned decades, during which he contributed his artistic vision to numerous popular TV shows and pilots.
  • His portfolio includes production design for popular series such as “The Neighborhood,” “Kevin Can Wait,” “The Caemuchael Show,” and “Girlfriends.”
  • He became well-known on CBS because of his quick smile and funny stories about life there.

Wendell Johnson, a highly respected and accomplished production designer in Hollywood, passed away on October 18, 2023, leaving behind a legacy of creativity and innovation in television design.

Johnson’s career spanned decades, during which he contributed his artistic vision to numerous popular TV shows and pilots.

After completing art school, Johnson’s journey in the entertainment industry began as an entry-level worker at Paramount Studios.

It was there that he discovered his passion for combining his love of movies with his talent for drawing and design.

Under the mentorship of renowned designers like Roy Christopher and Herman Zimmerman, Johnson quickly climbed the ranks from production assistant to set designer and eventually to production designer.

One of Johnson’s most iconic contributions to pop culture was his work on the opening sequence of the hit ’90s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

After impressing an associate producer with his work on “Webster,” Johnson was brought in to create the graffiti-style logo and graphics that became synonymous with Will Smith’s breakout show.

Wendell Johnson departed on October 18, 2023 (Source: IMDb)

Throughout his career, Johnson worked on an impressive array of television projects.

His portfolio includes production design for popular series such as “The Neighborhood,” “Kevin Can Wait,” “The Caemuchael Show,” and “Girlfriends.”

He also lent his talents to numerous pilots, showcasing his versatility across different genres and styles.

Johnson’s work on “The Neighboorhood” was particularly noteworthy.

He was the production designer for 33 episodes, starting in Season 2 and continuing through most of Seasons 4 and 5.

His contributions to the show were so valuable that CBS paid tribute to him with a black-and-white photo at the end of the Season 6 premiere following his passing.

Beyond his television work, Johnson’s talents extended to other areas of the entertainment industry.

He worked on projects for various networks and streaming platforms, including CBS, Netflix, ABC, NBC, and Disney Channel.

His personal website showcased dozens of projects, highlighting the depth of his experience in the field.

Colleagues and friends remember Johnson not only for his professional achievements but also for his warm personality.

He became well-known on CBS because of his quick smile and funny stories about life there.

Johnson’s sudden passing left his family – Cindy and children Makenna and Brooks – in a challenging situation, especially given the recent industry strikes.

In response, one of his friends and colleagues, Amy Winslow, rallied around them, and a GoFundMe campaign exceeded its initial goal of $30,000 to help with cremation and memorial celebration expenses.

Wendell Johnson’s career demonstrates the life of often unsung heroes of television production.

In Case You Didn’t Know

  • Before working on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Johnson worked as a production assistant on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
  • Amy Winslow, who set up the GoFundMe page, was a long-time friend and colleague who met professionally in 2004 at Paramount.

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