He’s a five-time father, but Don Johnson insists that being a dad never gets boring! “It’s no less exciting this time than it was the first time,” Don said in 2006 when his youngest, Deacon, was born. “It’s a very emotional experience, one that you never get used to, and it’s always a joyful thing. I love kids, so it’s more good times, more joy, and more fun.”
Don, 71, admits that having children ranging in age from 38 to 14 has its challenges, but also keeps him feeling young. “I’ve always been an older dad,” he says. “We take it all in stride.”
That’s not to say it’s always been easy. His son Jesse Johnson, 38, whose mom is actress Patti D’Arbanville, and daughter Dakota Johnson, 31, who was born during Don’s second marriage to Melanie Griffith, were children at the height of his fame. “Don is the first to admit he wasn’t always the greatest dad to his older kids because circumstances were different,” says a pal. While he may have spent too much time on soundstages back then, he never came up short on love or support for his kids. “We have a rule in the family that if you stay in school, you get to stay on the payroll,” says Don.
A SECOND CHANCE
In 1999, Don married socialite Kelley Phleger, 52, who became the mom to his three youngest children, Grace, 21, Jasper, 18, and Deacon, 14. “His parenting style has definitely changed over the years,” confides the friend, who adds that although Don has “mellowed with age,” he still teaches his younger kids that “school is a priority.”
Today, the actor is proud of all his children — but the tables have turned! Now, it’s his older kids who are too busy working to visit. “[Dakota] calls me to say that, ‘Uh, gosh, I would see you, but I’ve got three pictures that I’m shooting,’” gushes Don. “She’s gainfully employed, and that’s a great day.”
— Reporting by Rick Egusquiza