Johnny Washbrook

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John D. "Johnny" Washbrook​

(Canadian-American child actor:
played Ken McLaughlin on
My Friend Flicka)​

Johnny Washbrook.jpg

Born October 16, 1944​
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Edgartown, Dukes County

Spouse Joy L. Washbrook​

Luke J. Washbrook​
Alma mater:
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art

John D. Washbrook, known as Johnny Washbrook (born October 16, 1944), is a former child actor best known for his role as 12-year-old Ken McLaughlin on the western television series, My Friend Flicka, originally broadcast on CBS from 1956 to 1957.[1]


Washbrook was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His three brothers include Donald Washbrook, a regular on CBS's Petticoat Junction in its first season from 1963 to 1964, and Rick Washbrook, the youngest, a jazz musician. The family resided in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California, from the middle 1950s until 1971.[2]

Washbrook's first acting role was as 10-year-old Jimmy Sullivan in the 1955 episode "The Roads to Home" on the anthology series, The United States Steel Hour, broadcast that year on ABC.

My Friend Flicka

In thirty-nine episodes of My Friend Flicka, Washbrook portrayed the son of Rob and Nell McLaughlin, fictitious Wyoming ranchers played by Gene Evans (1922-1998) and Anita Louise (1915-1970). Character actor Frank Ferguson (1906-1978) was cast as the ranch handyman Gus Broeberg. Ken spent much of his time caring for his magnificent horse Flicka, Swedish for "girl", but actually an Arabian sorrel named Wahana, foaled on June 13, 1950, and owned by Patricia Ann Eaves.[3]

My Friend Flicka was rebroadcast thereafter for many years on other networks after its initial one-season airing. Flicka itself was the first 20th Century Fox series.[4] It was filmed at the Fox Movie Ranch in Malibu Canyon in Los Angeles County and at another location in Montana. Though some of the scenes were shot in Montana, the location in the Mary O'Hara novel on which the series is based is southern Wyoming.[5] While on My Friend Flicka, Washbrook also appeared three times in separate roles of CBS's The 20th Century-Fox Hour.[4]

Years later, Washbrook recalled that he had addressed Gene Evans as "Dad" even off the set to make the screen role seem more authentic. He recalled the camaraderie of the cast and production staff. Washbrook said that he visited other sets and found none as friendly as that of My Friend Flicka. Washbrook remembered Evans having once sprayed the staff with a water hose on a hot day to ease tensions. He kept the hose off the actors, however, because of their makeup. Washbrook said that the series ended so quickly because Anita Louise, wife of 20th Century Fox executive E. Maurice "Buddy" Adler (1906-1960), decided to quit. The decision was made to halt the series rather than continue with the adjustments which would have been required without Anita Louise in the cast.[5]

Other roles

In 1957, Washbrook played the beggar's child, Tom Canty, in an adaptation of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper on CBS's DuPont Show of the Month. In 1958, he appeared in "The Peter Bartley Story" of CBS's fantasy drama, The Millionaire. He portrayed the protagonist Peter Bartley (John Ericson) as Bartley was in youth. The episode was directed by Robert Altman (1925-2006), In 1959, Washbrook guest-starred as Chuck Nelson in the episode "Campout" of CBS's Lassie, with Jon Provost as Timmy Martin. He performed that same year as another "Chuck" in the episode, "A Summer's Ending," of the CBS anthology series, The DuPont Show with June Allyson.[4]

Washbrook appeared between 1959 and 1961 in two television western series: as Vince Nickels in the 1960 episode "The Quiet Killer" of NBC's Outlaws, starring with character actor J. Pat O'Malley (1904-1985), and twice on NBC's Wagon Train, as Tommy Peeks in "The Swift Cloud Story," with Rafael Campos (1936-1985) in the 1959 title role, and as Ron Pearson in "The Beth Pearson Story," with Virginia Grey (1917-2004) in the 1961 title role.[4]

Though the Internet Movie Database lists no Washbrook appearances after 1961, his brother Rick said that Washbrook guest-starred in many other 1960s series, including CBS's Perry Mason (as Tim Balfour in the 1963 episode, "The Case of the Devious Delinquent"), ABC's The Donna Reed Show and My Three Sons, and NBC's Hazel (as the nephew, Eddie Burke in the title role played by Shirley Booth (1898-1992),[6] and the 1964 series, Flipper. Washbrook soon left Los Angeles for New York City to act in plays.[2]

In 1971, the Washbrooks returned to Toronto.[7] During the 1970s, Washbrook studied in London, England, at both the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He worked thereafter on stage.[8]

His last film role, according to Fandango, was in the British 1979 caper flick A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square aka The Big Scam aka The Mayfair Bank Caper (video release title) co-starring David Niven (1910-1983) and Elke Sommer. Washbrook played the bank manager Blakestone.

Later years

​ In 2003, Washbrook was cited but did not appear in the documentary 50 Greatest TV Animals.[4] Washbrook has worked as a banker[5] in Edgartown, on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts.

He and his wife, Joy (born 1947), have a son, Luke J. Washbrook (born October 2, 1979).[9]

See also


  1. John Washbrook. Retrieved on March 27, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Suzi Price. "Rick Washbrook: The Gypsy in His Soul". Jazz Review. Retrieved on October 16, 2019.
  3. Arabian Horse Association registration records for Wahana: AHR *6513.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Johnny Washbrook. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on October 17, 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Boyd Magers. Do You Remember: My Friend Flicka. Retrieved on October 17, 2019.
  6. Johnny Washbrook filmography. The New York Times. Retrieved on March 18, 2009; no longer on-line.
  7. My Friend Flicka: TV Horses. Retrieved on October 17, 2019.
  8. Other Westerns: My Friend Flicka. Retrieved on October 17, 2019.
  9. People Search and Background Check; Net Detective People Search.

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