Linda Lee Johnson
June 20, 1944 - September 2, 2018
Linda Lee Johnson, an accomplished artist of many talents, including careers as an actress, sculptor, and designer of distinctive fine jewelry, died on September 2 at her home in Washington DC. She was 74 and had lived with cancer for more than a decade. An intelligent, vivacious, willowy blond beauty, the 25-year old Linda Lee won her first leading role as Psyche in John Argue’s Eros and Psyche at Actors’ Open Hand Theatre, Berkeley, CA. She was an original member of Berkeley Repertory Theatre where she acted in more than 20 productions in the 1970s. There she starred as leading lady in Charlie’s Aunt, Hamlet (Ophelia), The Importance of Being Ernest, Of Mice and Men, Bus Stop, and Private Lives, among others. In 1978, she moved to New York City to act in productions across the east coast, and started working on two of her three longtime interests: sculpture and jewelry, the third being her love of interior design. Her sculpture and functional objects were available at the Museum of Modern Art’s store, and more recently at Kelley Roy Gallery. Originally sold at Tiffany’s, Linda Lee’s jewelry has been carried exclusively since 1989 by Barneys New York. Her work in gold and precious stones has been described as distinctive by admirers as “ancient and modern at the same time.
Linda Lee was born in Chicago on June 20, 1944. Her father was a navy aviator who died in WWII when Linda Lee was an infant. After her mother married another naval aviator, the family moved to Alameda, CA. Linda Lee, attending Alameda High School, was chosen as the American Field Service representative to Greece, later crediting her experience as an exchange student with developing her interest in theatre, sculpture, and ancient jewelry. She also studied French in high school. In 1962 she was chosen by Governor Pat Brown to make one of the first transatlantic calls to France using Telstar satellite technology. She graduated in 1966 with a degree in English literature and drama from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
Linda Lee was married and divorced three times. She leaves a half-brother, James Wigge of Cazenovia, NY and nieces Erin Wigge of Annapolis, MD and Mary Kathryn Wigge of Charlottesville, VA. Known to her friends as Lulu, for the past 14 years she has lived in Washington DC and Long Lake, Adirondacks, NY. For the past 10 years her mini-poo Chester was her constant companion. In both Washington and Long Lake, Linda Lee was an active member of her Episcopal church. A memorial service is being planned for Nov. 3 at the Church of the Ascension and St. Agnes in Washington DC. Her many friends will remember Linda Lee’s gentle spirit, her generosity, and her boundless capacity for compassion. Memories may be shared at her DignityMemorial.org website.