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- May 15, 2000
- Vol. 53
- No. 19
Lynn-Holly Johnson Trades Hollywood for Medicine—and Momhood
One with more turns than a triple axel. Best known as the blind figure skater who made Robby Benson swoon in the 1979 coming-of-age hit Ice Castles and as the Bond girl who wriggled so memorably out of a towel in 198l's For Your Eyes Only, Johnson left the public eye a decade ago for a lower-profile role: medical assistant. Now a full-time mom (baby No. 2 is due this month), she wants to try Hollywood again—this time as a screenwriter.
All during her years in the spotlight, Johnson says, she was thinking about scrubs and hypodermic needles. "I'd just always thought medicine was the coolest job in the world," she says. "Anything that has to do with blood and guts, I'm there!" Says Dr. Victor Cachia, a podiatric surgeon who worked with Johnson on a medical relief mission to Guatemala in 1993: "With Lynn-Holly, you know her energy is going to be full blast."
Johnson poured her trademark energy into acting until a flood of offers for racy roles soured her on her craft. She even walked off the Castles set and shut down production one day rather than do a nude scene. "It's such a gas to have people come up to you decades later and say, 'Oh, Ice Castles is such a great family film,' " she says. "I think to myself, 'You don't know the half of it!' "
After wrapping her last film—The Criminal Mind—in 1990, Johnson enrolled in a physician's assistant program at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif. Later that year, after breaking up with Jurij Franco, her boyfriend of five years and an Olympic silver medalist skier, she caught the eye of real estate developer Kelly Givens at a Laguna Niguel gym. Shortly before they married in 1994, Johnson quit her job as an assistant at L.A. County USC Medical Center's emergency room. "I wanted to have children and focus on my relationship," she says. "I thought, I can always go back to medicine later."
Raised in the tony Chicago suburb of Glenview, the youngest of three children of Alan, 73, a general contractor, and Margaret, 66, a homemaker, Johnson took to the cameras almost as early as she took to the ice, appearing in TV ads for Coca-Cola and McDonald's. By the time she was 11, "skating pretty much dominated my life," says Johnson, who practiced seven hours a day at that age. "It never occurred to me this was tough. I was having the time of my life."
The work paid off: At 15, Johnson placed second in the U.S. novice figure-skating championship, and at 18 she began touring with the Ice Capades. That's where Ice Castles director Donald Wrye spotted her and cast her—despite the fact that she lacked any formal acting training—as Lexie. "Lynn-Holly's performance gave the film credibility," says costar Robby Benson.
Though Castles led to roles in 1980's The Watcher in the Woods and as Bond girl Bibi Dahl, among other parts, her screen moments never matched those she enjoyed on ice. "I wanted to make films, but it wasn't what I'd spent my life dreaming about," she admits. "I didn't have the laser drive I did with skating."
These days, full-time motherhood doesn't leave much room for double loops. ("It's not really fun when your body doesn't remember the moves," says Johnson.) But she has high hopes that the family-friendly film scripts she plans to write in her four-bedroom ranch-style house in Newport Beach, Calif., after her second child arrives will take her back to Hollywood. "Like my mom always says," Johnson laughs, "if you put your mind to something, you can do anything."
Janet Kinosian in Newport Beach
- Janet Kinosian.
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