John "Johnny" Washbrook

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John "Johnny" Washbrook
Johnny Washbrook My Friend Flicka 1962.JPG Johnny Washbrook My Friend Flicka 1962.JPG
Washbrook as Ken McLaughlin.
Born (1944-10-16) October 16, 1944 (age 77)
Toronto, Ontario
🏡 ResidenceEdgartown, Massachusetts, U.S.
🏳️ NationalityCanadian-American
🎓 Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
💼 Occupation
Actor: My Friend Flicka
📆 Years active  1955–1980
👩 Spouse(s)Joy L. Washbrook
👶 ChildrenLuke J. Washbrook

John "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 from 1956–1957 on CBS.

My Friend Flicka[edit]

Washbrook portrayed the son of Rob and Nell McLaughlin, fictitious Wyoming ranchers played by Gene Evans and Anita Louise. Frank Ferguson 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 13 June 1950 and owned by Patricia Ann Eaves.[1]

Washbrook was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He had three brothers, including Donald Washbrook, a regular on CBS's Petticoat Junction from 1963–1964, 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 episode "The Roads to Home" of CBS's The United States Steel Hour. Thereafter, he was cast for all thirty-nine episodes of My Friend Flicka, a series rebroadcast for many years on other networks after its initial one-season airing. Flicka itself was the first 20th Century Fox series.[3] 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.[4] While on My Friend Flicka, Washbrook also appeared three times in separate roles of CBS's The 20th Century-Fox Hour.[3]

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 Buddy Adler, decided to quit. The decision was made to halt the series rather than continue with the adjustments which would have been required without Louise in the cast.[4]

Other roles[edit]

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 a boy. The episode was directed by Robert Altman. 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.[3]

Washbrook appeared between 1959 and 1961 in two television western series: as Vince Nickels in the 1960 episode "The Quiet Killer" of NBC's The Outlaws, starring with character actor J. Pat O'Malley, and twice on NBC's Wagon Train, as Tommy Peeks in "The Swift Cloud Story", with Rafael Campos in the 1959 title role, and as Ron Pearson in "The Beth Pearson Story", with Virginia Grey in the 1961 title role.[3]

Though the Internet Movie Data Base 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 Case of the Devious Delinquent", in 1963), ABC's The Donna Reed Show and My Three Sons, and NBC's Hazel (as the nephew, Eddie Burke, of Shirley Booth's title character)[5] and Flipper. Washbrook left for New York City to act in plays.[2]

In 1971, the Washbrooks returned to Toronto.[6] 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.[7]

Washbrook appeared as Tim Balfour III in a 1963 episode of Perry Mason titled "The Case of the Devious Delinquent," according to the Washbrook filmography on Fandango.

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, Richard Jordan, Gloria Grahame, Elke Sommer, Joss Ackland, and Hugh Griffin. Washbrook played the bank manager Blakestone. After retiring from acting, he became a banker in real life.

Later years[edit]

In 2003, Washbrook was cited but did not appear in the documentary 50 Greatest TV Animals.[3] Washbrook has worked as a banker[4] in Edgartown, Massachusetts.

He and his wife, Joy, live near Edgartown. Their son is Luke J. Washbrook (born ca. 1979).[8]


  1. Arabian Horse Association registration records for Wahana, AHR*6513
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Suzi Price, "Rick Washbrook: The Gypsy in His Soul"". Archived from the original on September 9, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2009. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Johnny Washbrook". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 18, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 ""Do You Remember" by Boyd Magers, My Friend Flicka". Archived from the original on March 9, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2009. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. "Johnny Washbrook filmography". The New York Retrieved March 18, 2009.
  6. "My Friend Flicka: TV Horses". Retrieved March 18, 2009.
  7. "Other Westerns: My Friend Flicka". Retrieved March 18, 2009.
  8. People Search and Background Check; Net Detective People Search

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External links[edit]

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