Virginia E. "Ginny" Johnson, born Mary Virginia Eshelman (February 11, 1925 – July 24, 2013), is an American sexologist, best known as a member of the Masters and Johnson sexuality research team. Along with William Masters, she pioneered research into the nature of human sexual response and the diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunctions and disorders from 1957 until the 1990s.
Virginia Johnson, a divorced mother anxious to have a meaningful career, is ahead of her time on many fronts. Smart, forthright, resourceful, and sexually uninhibited, she refuses to adhere to the norms that society places on women in 1950's St. Louis. She is also compassionate and attuned to her emotions and those of others, which makes her the perfect counterpart for the repressed and socially awkward Dr. Masters.
Johnson eventually makes her way into a position as his assistant, and is one of the few who fully appreciates the value of his research. But being a single working mother is not easy, and she is constantly faced with difficult choices between her children and her unconventional career, both of which suffer as a result.
Season 1: 1956 - 1957
In 1956, a nationally renowned fertility specialist, William Masters, met a former nightclub singer, Virginia Johnson. Bill proposes a controversial new study on human sexuality but is rejected by the university. He begins the study anyway with his new secretary. The study goes to a brothel, where he meets Betty DiMello, and goes back to the study after blackmailing provost Barton Scully with his homosexuality.
Bill and Virginia begin having sex themselves for research in the study. However, after Bill pays her for her work (as they do to all their subjects), Virginia feels demeaned, and later quits. Bill is unable to cope with Virginia's departure. The presentation of the study at the University turns out to be a disaster, and Bill is fired from Washington University. The season ends with Bill on Virginia's door step saying he can't live without her.
Season 2: 1957 - 1961
Virginia's reputation at work is compromised following the presentation. After appearing on Virginia's doorsteps at the end of season one, Bill and Virginia start having an affair by meeting at a hotel in a nearby city. Virginia starts selling diet pills to make enough money to get by.
Bill is finally employed by Memorial Hospital, but the boss refuses to hire Virginia. After continued disagreements, Bill quits. Meanwhile, Virginia continues to work for Dr. DePaul and goes with her for Lillian's chemo treatments. Lillian soon dies.
Later, Bill gets a new job at Buell Green's, a "negro hospital". Virginia is able to join him. However, the study proves to be controversial at the hospital, so Bill quits once again.
Bill learns that Virginia has been seeing other men. After this, Bill cuts off sexual ties with Virginia. Bill finally opens his own clinic and brings Virginia and Betty with him. Two years later, Bill and Virginia continue their sex work together, but Bill, having been destroyed after learning of Virginia's "unfaithfulness", has become impotent. Bill and Virginia both work together to help resolve Bill's impotency, which later proves to be successful.
A TV crew from CBS wants to air a special on Bill and Virginia's work. Bill reluctantly agrees but is bothered by the censorship of words like "orgasm". After seeing a terrible first cut of the special, Bill secretly tries to get it not to air. Meanwhile, Virginia is working out a new custody agreement with her kids. She will give up custody of her kids and then get it back--as long as the special airs. She later learns that the special will not air as another doctor has published his work on sexuality first.
Season 3: 1965 - 1968
In 1965, on a Summer family vacation, Bill and Libby meet Virginia at a lake house. Bill is excited to have a draft of his book with him. Virginia learns that her son is going to be enlisting in the military. Furious, she goes to George (who has custody of the kids), but he reveals that he's scared too. Out of sadness, the two have sex.
Three months later, Bill and Virginia have their first press conference for their soon-to-be-released book Human Sexual Response. The book receives positive reviews from critics. However, later that day, Bill learns that Virginia is pregnant and the baby is George's.
Bill requests that Virginia take the next few months off since "a pregnant unwed woman can't be the standard bearer of sexual enlightenment." Also so the press wouldn't think that baby is Bill's. After a few mis-steps with a new co-worker, Bill needs Virginia back and goes to George, trying to convince them to get married to legitimatize the child. They do get married and the baby is born as Bill is excited of his own baby, Human Sexual Response, having just been released.
Two months later, Bill and Virginia resume sexual contact. The book receives positive reviews from critics but mixed reviews from the public. The book also creates much controversy in the religious community, with many religious groups protesting Bill and Virginia's offices. With the clinic in need of money, Bill begins soliciting Human Sexual Response to colleges, hoping they might pick it up as a textbook. Along the way, Bill hires Barton. Also, Virginia begins looking for investors. While Virginia wants Hugh Hefner as an investor, Bill settles on Dan Logan, a perfume magnate.
Bill and Virginia begin working with Dan Logan, who is trying to capture the smell of sex. Virginia and Dan become very close, to Bill's dismay.
One of Jane's friends from a theater class has sexual dysfunction, and Bill, who can relate after his own impotency, wants to start a surrogacy program, using single women to help single men who are in need of help. Since this will be mistaken as prostitution, the volunteers will not be paid. Virginia is weary of this work, considering the surrogates have no idea who each other are. Bill and Nora, a surrogate who has connections to him, connect. Bill, desperate to reconnect with Virginia, shuts down his surrogacy program.
Bill and Virginia go to New York to meet with Little Brown & Co. to discuss the publication of their next book, Human Sexual Inadequacy. The meeting is a disaster as Bill promises to include parts of the surrogacy work. At a dinner designed to win Virginia back, Dan and Bill square off and Virginia storms out. Dan later tells Virginia that he left his wife.
Virginia is planning on taking some time off to clear her head, but Libby informs her that Bill is being investigated for child molestation, in what really is a misunderstanding. Nora, meanwhile, needs to pay rent and Bill agrees to pay her. What he doesn't know is that she is recording this and has been working with one of the religious groups who hate the message of the book.
Bill and Virginia are arrested for prostitution, since Bill paid Nora. Dan bails out Virginia and later proposes to her. Libby talks with Bill and Bill finally confesses that he's been having an affair for ten years. Libby says she knows about this and the two fight, with Libby leaving Bill in jail. Bill calls Barton to be bailed out of jail.
Virginia arrives at the jailhouse to tell Bill that she is leaving St. Louis and moving to Las Vegas with Dan. Bill finally tells Virginia he loves her. Nonetheless, Virginia continues with her plans. Bill rushes to the airport, but, plagued by flashbacks from his father telling him to "stay down", Bill decides to stop fighting as Virginia gets on the plane with Dan.
Season 4: 1968 - 1969
A month after her fallout with Bill, Virginia is in Las Vegas, after getting into an ugly breakup with Dan. She is anxious to capitalize on her fame, and wants Hugh Hefner to publish an article in his magazine. Hefner agrees, but will only invest in the business if Bill and Virginia continue to work together. Bill and Virginia agree to work together as long as the work stays strictly professional--and want to bring in new partners for the both of them.
Bill starts by hiring Nancy Leveau, a former associate of Barton's. Virginia retaliates by hiring Art Dreesen, a psychologist. Virginia soon finds out that Nancy and Art are married and in an open marriage. After a night at a swingers party lands Art and Virginia together, Virginia finally confronts her feelings towards Bill--and realizes she still loves him.
Things get heated between Virginia and Nancy. Virginia wants Nancy and Art fired, especially as she learns Art told Nancy that he and Virginia had sex--which they did not. Bill allows the two of them to stay on. Nancy wants to start her own clinic with Art. However, after Art learns that Nancy aborted his child, he wants nothing to do with her and turns her in to Bill and Virginia.
Virginia continues to try and pursue Bill, who is reluctant to get back involved because he doesn't want to be hurt again. After going undercover to investigate a competing clinic in Kansas, Virginia reveals that she loves him, and he says he loves her too. The two, reunited at last, agree to get married. Even though Virginia's parents marriage is falling apart and Bill's family is moving away that day, Bill and Virginia finally get married, and are photographed by the press exiting city hall, husband and wife.
- Ginny (by friends)
- Started her undergradute studies at Drury College studying music (dropped out)
- Enrolls in Washington University in St. Louis' Pscyhology Program with an undeclared major
- Divorced three times (once unknown, twice to George Johnson)