Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Deane F. Johnson was a prominent entertainment-industry lawyer and corporate executive who was prominent in nonprofit institutions.

Deane was an attorney with O'Melveny & Myers from 1942 to 1977 at which time he became the chairman. His clients in those years included William Holden, William S. Paley, James Stewart, Bing Crosby, Shirley Temple, Dinah Shore, Gary Cooper, CBS and Paramount Studios. Then in 1981, he left O'Melveny & Myers to become president and director of Warner Communications and then eventually president of Time Warner Communications.

Deane received a bachelor's degree in 1939 and a law degree in 1942, both from Stanford University. Later he became chairman of the Stanford Law School's Board of Visitors and donated his 3,000+ acre Colorado cattle ranch to the law school, where he had been first in his class. That is the largest gift the law school has ever received.

Deane was president of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team for a time. He was a trustee of the American Film Institute and the California Institute of Technology, a member of the boards at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a director of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, the Boy Scouts of America, the Actors Fund and the American Museum of the Moving Image.

He died on February 28, 1999 at the age of 80 as a result of Alzheimer's.