The Life of Sherwood Johnson: Founder of Shakey’s Pizza

On this day, September 2 in the year 1925, the co-founder of Shakey’s Pizza was born in California, United States. His name was Sherwood Johnson, the man who was nicknamed Shakey because his hands were shaking due to malnutrition.

Sherwood Johnson
Sherwood Johnson (Credit:

Personal Information
Complete Name –> Sherwood Johnson
Nickname –> Shakey
Birth Date –> September 2, 1925
Died –> October 31, 1998 (aged 73)
Hometown –> Sacramento City, California, United States
Occupation before Business –> Member of the US Navy.

Wife –> Mary
Children –> 2
Father –> Lawyer

College –> Hastings School of Law

Sherwood Johnson was the son of a prominent state attorney in Sacramento City, California. After graduating from high school in 1943, he joined the United States Navy and was assigned in the Pacific theater. While aboard the USS Alnitah, he experienced difficulty eating food and in two years, his weight dropped from 155 pounds to 93 due to malnutrition. He was trembling and soon people were calling him “Shakey” although according to him, it was a term of endearment.

After the war, Sherwood Johnson attended the Hastings School of Law in San Francisco. In 1954, he and a friend contributed $850 each to open a beer house in Sacramento. Later, the two added pizza using a recipe he learned from childhood. The place was cool with nightly live jazz music that attracted throngs of customers. Sherwood himself entertained the guests by playing the piano. After some time, the pizza business was separated into another room which was named a pizza parlor, the first to be called as such.

In 1956, a second pizza parlor was opened in Oregon. Soon, it branched out to other states and later, other countries. In 1967, Sherwood sold his share of the business for a little less than $4 million and retired to his ranch.

The fun-loving partygoer Shakey died of heart attack in 1998 at the age of 73. He had a daughter and a son with his wife Mary.



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