Several weeks ago someone who has been a big shot in Dallas long enough to know where all the bodies are buried told me that it’s not generally known that the remains of Russell Johnson — the acoustician responsible for the Eugene McDermott Concert Hall — are interred in the Meyerson Symphony Center.
This source refused to let me attribute the information to him, but indicated that he was convinced of its veracity. Smelling the possibility of hidden, arcane burial rites carried out on Flora Street by a secret society of city elders (and the chance for me to parlay the story into a Dan Brown-esque bestseller and blockbuster film), I decided to investigate further.
To peek inside the mind of Russell Johnson, and hear more about his final resting place, take the jump.
Johnson, who died in August 2007, requested in his will that he be buried in the Meyerson. That’s a fact that’s not been made public before now, according to Tateo Nakajima, a partner in Johnson’s design firm and the executor of his will. But why did Johnson make that request?
“I never asked him because I never knew that he’d put that in his will. I think he felt close to the hall,” Nakajima said. “You know, journalists were always asking ‘which is your favorite hall,’ and he just laughed. He would never answer the question … But I would speculate that it was probably one of the halls that really catapulted his work and his reputation.”
Nakajima made inquiries about fulfilling Johnson’s wish, but “logistical complications” prevented the request from being granted. “I would have liked to have done that for him,” Nakajima said. I asked where Johnson’s remains were placed, but he said that was too personal to discuss.
Les Studdard, the general manager of the Meyerson, also assures me that Johnson’s grave is elsewhere: “Mr. Johnson’s ashes are not buried or housed anywhere in the Meyerson … His ghost may roam these premises, but not his physical remains.”
So that’s that, I suppose. Now I can return to my search for the ever-elusive basement of the Alamo.