Why Australians Can't Get Enough Of Samuel Johnson

Written by Emma Tommasini


Samuel Johnson has only recently been crowned the 2019 winner of Dancing With The Stars but he's best known for his inspiring support of his sister, Connie, before she succumbed to cancer, but not before raising almost $6m for cancer research.
 
He is loved by Australians and perhaps that's because he is in every sense of the word, a good bloke. But it's more than that. Not only is he incredibly talented, kind, generous and humble, but he has the most infectious grin.
Watching him dance in his final routine for Dancing, it was impossible not to feel his joy as he shimmied around the stage in a white suit. He was smiling the whole time. It's hard to imagine that this man with such zeal for life, lost his sister only 18 months ago.
Australians feel like they've grown up with Sam. We loved him in The Secret Life of Us, when he played the lovable Evan Wylde, for which he won an AFI. He then went on to play Molly Meldrum in Molly, another Aussie Aussies love, which won him a Gold Logie for most popular TV personality in 2017.

All the while we heard his most recognisable voice on commercials such as Vodafone and on NOVA radio, which he hosted in the mid-2000s.

He resigned from his radio gig in 2006, several months after his girlfriend Lainie Woodlands died. This is not, sadly, where the heartbreak in his life began or ended. Samuel was only a toddler when his mother died by suicide. He grew up with a writer father in Daylesford, Victoria. He had two sisters, Constance and Hilde and Connie's first encounter with cancer came at only 11, when she was found to have a tumour in her leg.

It was to be the fight of his sister's life and Samuel and Connie began a charity, Love Your Sister. Perhaps the most memorable fundraising feats were his unicycle journey, that raised $1,477,630 and the coin love heart which raised$2.535 million for the charity.

In 2016, Johnson was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to cancer research support organisations, and to the performing arts. There couldn't possibly be a more deserving person.

But it was Sam's devotion to Connie that really made this man stand out. When Connie was dying, Sam was there to support her every step of the way. And he shared his journey with the nation. This brother sister duo was all of us.

He wrote on the Love Your Sister Instagram page shortly before Connie's death.

“Her heart will endure when her body will not. Rainbows carry hefty price tags, turns out. They don't tell you that at the start.''

“Thanks for showing me that life is what we make it to be. Thanks for teaching me that now can still be awesome, even when you've so nearly run out of now and have no more real awesome left.

“I wish I could soften your pain, or lessen your fear, or give you something tangible, but tangible clearly isn't in season. I'm proud to walk you to the hardest part of the road. The end.

“The only part of the road in your life that must sadly be travelled alone.

“Chin up please, amidst the growing dark my girl. Shoulders back. And you stand tall through that savage march, stand big and tall, poor sister, for you have lived a life to be proud of.

“Thanks for holding my hand along the way. It's been a stunning f*cking ride. I want another turn, for we've spent our lives taking turns, but cancer is greedier and stronger than us. For now.

“So Little Miss Connie Cotton socks, I shall now again and proudly declare myself, as very truly yours, your ever grotty and very sad little brother, Sammy Seal. XX”

In a country where expressing emotions is the exception rather than the rule, here was a man speaking from his heart to his beloved sister. And he did so at her funeral and again in a routine for Dancing With The Stars, which he dedicated to her.

“She left this extraordinary legacy for the country,” Sam said of Connie.

“It’s not the cancer that’s making me cry, it’s all she did for me. The biggest thing she taught me is that now is awesome and to insist on joy.”

It's a lesson she taught Sam and he is passing on to an entire nation.

 

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