October 23, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Fundraiser to Help Ernie Johnson From Muscle Beach

Longtime Muscle Beach staple diagnosed with dementia

By Sam Catanzaro

Ernie Thrash Johnson has been a staple among the Original Muscle Beach Santa Monica community since the ’70s, but now diagnosed with dementia and facing home-insecurity his family is asking for help.

Over the past 40 years, Ernie, a SAG/AFTRA stuntman, acrobat, circus performer and instructor, has helped thousands of people from all over the world learn the art of acrobatics. He has taught people almost every Saturday and Sunday for the last 40 years, free of charge in an effort to pay it forward in honor of the greats–including Glen Sunby, Russ Sander, Paula Unger, Bob Yerkes and Gary Morgan–that taught him.

“I’ve known Ernie since he was a teenager. And then he started going to the beach and doing acrobatics and stuff and he keeps coming down and he trains new people. If you were willing to try something, he would take anyone off the beach and if they wanted to do acrobatics he would put them on your shoulders or he would teach them a little teeterboard,” said Gary Morgan, an actor and stuntman.

According to Ernie’s daughter Amber, Ernie helped lead the effort to stop the City of Santa Monica from eliminating the Original Muscle Beach and convinced them to remodel it instead and is a “major reason” that muscle beach still exists today.

“My dad took a lot of pride in Santa Monica Muscle Beach. He was always trying to think of ways to make it better. He also reminded everybody to pick up three pieces of trash before they left the beach so that the beach could remain beautiful,” Amber said.

Ernie, who is only 54, began showing signs of memory loss earlier this year that rapidly progressed to what the doctors are calling dementia and acute delirium. He is unable to care for himself, does not remember to eat or drink, has lost nearly 70lbs, has trouble remembering anything short term or holding a coherent conversation.

“As coronavirus has come and changed our whole lives, you know we can no longer go down to the beach, but that is something that my dad just didn’t understand and could not grasp the concept of coronavirus because he would forget. And so one day he decided that he was just going to go down to the beach and he went by foot,” Amber said. “He claimed he was walking down to Santa Monica. He lives in South Central…it was really scary. Because that is when we realized how serious his problem was and how much help he really needed.”

Ernie has been the primary caretaker and has provided financial support for his elderly mother; known by many as Mama Rose, living in the home that Ernie’s father purchased in the early ’70s. According to Amber, Mama Rose fell victim to a predatory reverse mortgage loan back in 2008 during the housing crisis.

“One of my dad’s biggest goals was to purchase my grandmother’s home out of reverse mortgage and now that he is sick, that dream is becoming less of a reality and also presents the bigger issue that if my grandmother does pass away, which we hope she doesn’t anytime soon, but if she did it would leave my father homeless as the banks would take over the home,” Amber said. “So now we are left trying to figure out how to cover the past bills, how we are going to cover the ongoing medical bills and also how to make sure has a roof over his head and won’t lose that home.”

To help support her father, Amber has set up a GoFundME to help with medical expenses

“It’s not in my dad’s character to ask for help as he is usually the one lending the helping hand but that is why I am here today to ask you guys, the community that he has served for all these years, to return the favor and help my dad.”

As of Monday, the fundraiser has raised nearly $30,000 out of a $500,000 goal.

in News
Related Posts

VA Secretary Announces Plans House Over 500 Homeless Veterans in Los Angeles by End of Year

October 21, 2021

October 21, 2021

Updated October 22, 2021 with added statement from the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority. Announcement comes after Secretary Denis McDonough’s...

Homeless Man Sleeping in Santa Monica Park Set on Fire

October 21, 2021

October 21, 2021

Suspect at large in October 16 incident By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica police are searching for a suspect wanted for...

Ocean Park’s Uplifters Kitchen Closes

October 20, 2021

October 20, 2021

Westside Dining Scene October 21, 2021 By Dolores Quintana Sadly, Uplifter’s Kitchen, a health conscious vegetarian and vegan friendly cafe...

Charges Filed Against Woman for Attacking Former “Survivor” Contestant in Santa Monica

October 20, 2021

October 20, 2021

Michelle Yi, two other unnamed victims attacked in area of 2nd and Arizona By Dolores Quintana and Sam Catanzaro Michelle...

Community Volunteer Patrol Program Brings Civilians New Insight Into Law Enforcement

October 19, 2021

October 19, 2021

The West LA Police Department has a community patrol program bridging the gap between civilians and law enforcement. Video brought...

E-Bike Company Wheels Settles Consumer Protection Lawsuit With Santa Monica

October 19, 2021

October 19, 2021

Company agrees to pay $300k for operating without a license in 2019 By Sam Catanzaro E-bike company Wheels recently settled...

Santa Monica Fire Department Put Out Two Freeway Blazes Over Weekend

October 19, 2021

October 19, 2021

No injuries reported in Sunday morning incident By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) made quick work putting...

Vice President Kamala Harris Visits Santa Monica For The Weekend: Santa Monica Beat – October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

October 18, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Vice President Kamala Harris Visits Santa Monica For The Weekend *...

Santa Monica’s 100 Homes Initiative Moves Forward

October 16, 2021

October 16, 2021

City seeks public participation in new HUD-funded program By Dolores Quintana The City of Santa Monica is moving forward with...

Former Mesa PD Chief to Lead Santa Monica Police Department

October 15, 2021

October 15, 2021

Ramon Batista selected as Santa Monica’s first Latino police chief By Sam Catanzaro Ramon Batista, Jr., the former police chief...

Closing Celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month Today

October 14, 2021

October 14, 2021

This Friday, October 15, the Santa Monica community is invited to a closing ceremony for Santa Monica’s first Hispanic Heritage...

Three SMC Professors Receive First-Ever Michelson Intellectual Property Educator of Excellence Award

October 13, 2021

October 13, 2021

The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property (Michelson  IP) is proud to award three Santa Monica College faculty members with the...

An Interview with Zach Rash, CEO of Coco Food Robotic Delivery

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

Coco Delivery, is a completely contactless food delivery service that uses human piloted robots to deliver meals from the restaurant...

Message From Santa Monica’s New City Manager David White

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

To the Santa Monica Community – it is with tremendous excitement that today I begin my first day as your...

Three Santa Monica College Faculty Receive Michelson IP Educator Award: Santa Monica Beat – October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

October 11, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * City Council Set To Approve Plan For 9 Thousand New Housing...