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Whatever happened to Van Johnson? I'm a fan of his old movies. - D.P.S., Canyon Country, Calif.

STATS: Born Aug. 20, 1916, in Newport, R.I., as Charles Van Johnson. Attended Newport public schools. Married once, one daughter.IN EARLY YEARS: Johnson headed for the New York stage in 1934 and worked in musicals as a chorus boy, where he met a chorus girl named Lucille Ball. In 1941, while on a visit to Hollywood, he landed an MGM contract. He made his movie debut in "Too Many Girls" in 1942. A near-fatal motorcycle accident kept him out of service in World War II and in the wartime shortage of leading men, he became a star. Among his movies: "The Human Comedy," "A Guy Named Joe," "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" and "Command Decision." He made over 125 movies, the last was Woody Allen's "Purple Rose of Cairo." He made his TV debut in a 1955 "I Love Lucy" episode with old friend Ball.

FAMOUS FOR: During the war years, his freckled, red-headed boyishness made him the idol of teenage girls, who swooned and screamed and landed him the title "The Voiceless Sinatra."

IN RECENT YEARS: Since 1963 when his movie career faded, Johnson has made a few movies, appeared frequently on TV and on Broadway and dinner theater. He also has established a reputation as a painter. He lives in New York.

- Send your questions to Whatever Happened to . . ., Detroit Free Press, 321 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226. Volume of mail prohibits personal replies.