Sunny Johnson

The life of Sunny Johnson is an example of a potentially great career that never was. The young actress did a considerable amount of work between 1977 and 1984, but her unexpected death at the age of 30 ended her career prematurely. The Bakersfield native got her start as many do: landing small roles in prominent films and television series. Johnson's first credit was an appearance in a 1977 episode of "Charlie's Angels." The following year she was almost in the cult comedy classic "Animal House" but her part was cut from the film's final edit. But by 1980, she had landed a starring role in the horror comedy "Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype" opposite the English actor Oliver Reed. She proceeded to play a supporting role in "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," a musical drama starring Randy Quaid and Mark Hamill. The momentum was indeed building: in 1983, she played the role of Jennifer Beals' figure-skating friend in the hit film "Flashdance." We can only speculate that this might have been the moment at which her career blossomed into stardom. In 1984, Johnson's boyfriend came home to discover her unconscious. She was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center, where it was discovered that she died as a result of a burst blood vessel in her brain.