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“She didn’t like me”: Sam Johnson's complicated relationship with sister Connie.

Samuel Johnson is currently is performing on Dancing With The Stars Australia. In the competition, he is supporting charity Love Your Sister, which was established in his sister Connie’s name. You can read more about Samuel’s appearance on Dancing With The Stars here.

Samuel Johnson and his sister, Connie, didn’t fight during her final years.

Not as the mother of two, who had always craved order and control, was stripped of both by terminal breast cancer – her third bout of malignancy in four decades.

Not as Sam quit acting and took charge of Love Your Sister, the charity established in her name.

Watch Sam Johnson’s emotional tribute to Connie on Dancing With The Stars here. Post continues below…

Not as he encouraged her to be “stoic, happy” to sell their breast-aware narrative to Australian women, when at times she was feeling anything but.

They never fought. But they disagreed. On nearly everything.

“On how to be as a human, on how to behave, on how to treat people,” Sam told Mamamia’s No Filter podcast. “I disagreed with nearly every part of her across 40 years. We couldn’t be more different. We couldn’t be more diametrically opposed as people, and we couldn’t have a more serious distaste for one another.

“We weren’t each other’s type. She didn’t like me; she loved me. I didn’t like her; I loved her.”

Sam and Connie. (Image via Facebook/Love Your Sister.)
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That “distaste” will likely jar with people who followed Love Your Sister. Before Connie’s death on September 8, 2017, she and Sam were arguably the most famous siblings in the country.

Together they built an online community - a village, they call it - of over half a million people via the Love Your Sister Facebook page, organised record-breaking fundraising events including Sam’s legendary 15,000km unicycle ride around Australia. And because of it all, are closing in on $10 million in donations to fund vital cancer research.

Read more: "I’m sobbing." Samuel Johnson's emotional tribute to Connie on Dancing with the Stars.

On air and social media they were doting, loving, teasing. And while that may have been authentic, what Sam now shares about his relationship with Connie reveals a bigger, more complicated picture.

“As soon as she died I felt I could lift the lid,” Sam laughed. “Like, yeah, she's an amazing sister, she's an amazing mum, she's a great advocate. But she's a pain in the arse.”

'She offered to expose my drug habit.'

One of many sticking points in their relationship was Sam’s drug use (their mother had died of an overdose when Connie was just four and Samuel three). With the fame brought by his role on early 2000s hit The Secret Life of Us, came drug and alcohol abuse that swallowed much of his 20s and some of his 30s.

Connie was awarded an OAM days before she died. Image: Facebook.
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“When I was 21 and I broke on TV, [Connie] called me up asked me for six thousand dollars for a couch. I told her to get f*****d, and that even if I had two million dollars I wouldn't give her six thousand dollars for a couch. I told her how upset I was that now I had people in my family asking me for money, now that I was on TV,” Sam said.

“She hung up and rang Channel Nine, WHO Weekly, New Weekly and offered to expose my drug habit.”

Yet to Sam, that’s “normal relationship stuff”, just another disagreement: “She didn’t do anything wrong; I just didn’t like it much.” He’s as reluctant to demonise Connie as he his to mythologise her, it seems.

It's why he asked those who spoke at her public memorial not to "deify" Connie. “Everyone got up there and really was respectful of my request not to deify her and to talk about the person she was, to celebrate who she was - not who she told the world she was, not who she told her family she was, not even who she told herself she was.”

And so the people who spoke that day used words like, determined, competitive, conflicted, supportive, vulnerable, feistiness, thoughtfulness. A complicated picture of a ordinary woman, wife, sister, aunt, mum. Albeit one who inspired an extraordinary community and her brother's extraordinary vision: to vanquish cancer.

And Sam knows just how he might do it. Listen....

You can download this episode or subscribe to No Filter here.

To support Love My Sister, purchase a copy of Sam's latest book 'Dear Santa', a collection of letters to Santa from some of Australia's most notorious and best-loved grown-ups. Or simply donate via the website.

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