Up Front: POWER COUPLES
THE SPLIT ENDS FOR A HAIR-CARE DUO
THE JOHNSONS, WHOSE 1989 divorce threw their black hair-care company, Johnson Products, into turmoil, are getting back together. George and Joan Johnson will remarry on Apr. 22 at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago.
One casualty of the strife was family control of Chicago-based Johnson Products, once among the largest black-owned companies in America. In the divorce settlement ending their 38-year union, founder George Johnson turned over his stock to Joan, who assumed his chairman's seat. Then in 1993, Joan sold Johnson Products to IVAX, a nonminority-owned holding company. An outraged George called the sale a "nightmare." The children got caught up in the feuding, too. Son Eric Johnson was promoted to president by his mother only to resign in 1992 in a dispute over his sister Joanie's role at the company.
Joan, 66, who got more than $33 million from the IVAX sale, is now retired. George, 68, is chairman of Indecorp, the largest U.S. black-owned banking company. The couple isn't talking about how or why they reconciled, but son Eric says they missed each other after all their years together. "There's a very thin line," he says, "between love and hate."EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI Susan Chandler