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Tom Johnson, ‘Daily Show’ Writer, Dies at 55

Tom Johnson, who received two Emmy Awards for his writing on The Daily Show, has died. He was 55.

Johnson died “peacefully and unexpectedly” at his Los Angeles home on Jan. 14 of a cardiac issue, his wife, actress Rozie Bacchi, told The Hollywood Reporter.

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“He never got to eat the Texas toast he was making, or the 4 lbs. of crab legs he found on sale and crammed in the freezer two nights prior,” she said in a statement.

“Tom had such a big heart and cared deeply about taking care of others. His work ethic was impeccable. He was fair, kind, talented, inclusive and funny as hell.”

Born on July 25, 1968, in Fairfax, Virginia, Johnson began his career after college and founded the Network Comedy Troupe. He also toured as a comedian and performed at venues across the country and on television.

Johnson was initially hired in 1996 as a writer on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show when Craig Kilborn was the host. He was there when Jon Stewart took over in 1999 and stayed until 2003. He also made a few appearances onscreen, playing the hacker Lord Viper Scorpion on a handful of episodes in 2000-01.

He won his Emmys for best writing for a variety, music or comedy program in 2001 and 2003, received two Peabody Awards and landed another Emmy nom in 2002.

Johnson co-created The Jeselnik Offensive with Anthony Jeselnik in 2013, serving as executive producer and head writer, was the head writer on Talk Show With Spike Feresten from 2007-09 and worked as a writer on Lopez Tonight from 2010-11.

His other TV writing and producing credits included the Grammys and MTV Video Music Awards, Comedy Central roasts, Stand-Up Nation With Greg Giraldo, The Gamekillers, Reality Bites Back, Lopez Tonight, WTF With Marc Maron, Comedy Knockout, Nice One!, Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Party Challenge, Caraoke Showdown and Punk’d.

In addition to his wife, survivors include his sisters, Pamela and Cindy; brothers-in-law Stephen and Steve; nieces Jennifer, Amanda, Brooke and their spouses; great nieces Cameron and Zoey; and cats Billie, Sal and Mama.

His wife said he had multiple projects that he was planning to pitch.

“Although he was an accomplished comedy writer with numerous fancy awards, he was selfless and always said he should have been in the F.B.I. like his father,” she said. “If you knew him, you knew that he was ‘in 9/11, on 9/11, and at 9/11’ and figured he’d be dead by the age of 40 anyway. Maybe that is why he lived his life to the fullest.

“He was a voracious reader, eater and rescuer of cats. It brought him great joy to play pranks on those he loved. … He would be so grateful to see the outpouring of love and support. Rest in peace, Tom. You deserve the best. I love you.”

A celebratory memorial will be held in the coming months.

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