Samuel Johnson shares tragic past

Samuel Johnson's moment that broke Anh Do's heart

IN A story that already features his girlfriend's suicide and his sister's battle with terminal cancer, it's hard to imagine there could be another tragedy buried away in Samuel Johnson's past.

But during Wednesday night's episode of Anh Do's Brush With Fame, the 38-year-old actor opened up about another terrible sadness from his childhood, in a moment that even shocked the veteran comedian.

Off the back of the family home in Victoria's Daylesford region burning down a couple of weeks after Johnson's birth, his mother committed suicide when he was just three years old.

"I was too young to really gauge the effects of it, but she had all kinds of psychosis, she was in and out of institutions," he told the comedian and artist, while having his portrait painted.

"She was in and out of institutions - she tried over and over again ... countless times."

Johnson, the youngest of three children, admitted her death had caused some "relief" within his family.

"By the time she eventually succeeded, I'm told there was a bit of relief, for her. According to my older sister, it was probably best that I didn't grow up with her."

Johnson’s life has been marred by sadness.
Johnson’s life has been marred by sadness. ABC TV

It's just one of the profoundly sad moments Johnson manages to reflect upon without ever sounding pessimistic or victimised, including when he shares details about his sister Connie's first cancer diagnosis at the age of 11.

"I looked over at my dad, he was just white ... he was curled up on the couch, weeping, bawling," he said.

In fact, he's exceptionally grateful for his happy childhood memories.

"My dad was a phenomenal man, he was more than capable of bringing up the kids on his own," the former Secret Life of Us star told Do.

"I remember growing up with a dad who was authoritarian, but also effeminate ... so I had a two-in-one deal.

"I had a great childhood. I had heaps of fun. I don't remember hardship, I remember the value of not being able to get everything you want."

But in 2006, tragedy struck yet again when the love of his life - his girlfriend Lainie Woodlands - took her own life.

Samuel Johnson with his sister Connie.
Samuel Johnson with his sister Connie. Facebook

"I'm still very upset for her, and for her family and it's probably my life's biggest sadness," an emotional Johnson told Do.

"You know how they reckon that you come to terms with your grief as you go along? Not with this one. With every year, it gets more profound, my sadness grows. I feel it a lot more profoundly than the loss of my mother."

Anh Do struggles with a tragic story told by Samuel Johnson on his show Brush With Fame.
Anh Do struggles with a tragic story told by Samuel Johnson on his show Brush With Fame. ABC TV

Do appeared to struggle a bit with his words as the enormity of the tragedies in Johnson's past hit him.

"Sam - so you've lost your mum, your girlfriend, and now your sister is gravely ill - do you ever think ... how unfair is life?"

But Johnson was quick to show his optimism.

"I'm not a victim. I don't know if I'm just bullsh**ting myself, but I see my time with Lainie as a gift. Maybe I lost her earlier than I would have liked but I had some of her. I got to share my life with her. You don't always get as much as you want of everything, you don't get as much of your loved ones as you want. But you get them, don't you?"

Anh Do's Brush With Fame airs Wednesdays at 8pm and Sundays at 6pm on ABC.

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News Corp Australia

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