Long before there was MacGyver making a bomb out of some paperclips, rope and a can of Sterno, there was the Professor who made radio’s from coconuts and twine and washing machines from bamboo. Sadly, Russell Johnson, better known as the professor on the iconic TV sitcom ‘Gilligan’s Island’ has died at the age of 89. The professor died at his home in Washington, with his wife, Connie and their daughter, Kimberly, were at his side. According to reports he died of natural causes.
How I loved this show. Sadly, only Tina Louise and Dawn Wells are the only surviving “Gilligan’s Island” cast members. OK, how many of you knew that the professors name on Gilligan’s Island was Roy Hinkley? Furthermore, how many of you knew that before becoming an actor, Russell Johnson served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Johnson was on a B-24 Liberator when it was shot down during a bombing raid over the Philippines in 1945.
Actor Russell Johnson, best known as Professor in the 1960s TV sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died Thursday, his agent said. Johnson was 89.
Johnson played the iconic role of Professor Roy Hinkley, whose scientific schemes to get the castaways rescued were always foiled by Gilligan’s bumbling.
He died at his home in Washington, where he lived with his wife, Connie. She and their daughter, Kimberly, were at his side, said agent Mike Eisenstadt. Johnson is also survived by a stepson, Court, and a grandson, he said.
Johnson worked up until his death, signing autographs over the holidays, said Eisenstadt. He called Johnson’s death “unexpected.”
The chief deputy coroner in Kitsap County, Washington, told CNN that Johnson died from natural causes.
Johnson was “just a positive and nice guy” who always treated people with respect, his agent said.
Russell Johnson discusses the cast of “Gilligan’s Island” and the chemistry of the cast … “It worked”. Yes it Did!
Russell David Johnson was born on Nov. 10, 1924, near Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the oldest of six children. His father died when Russell was not yet 10, and his mother sent him and two brothers to Girard College, then a school for poor orphan boys, in Philadelphia, where he finished high school. He served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, winning a Purple Heart, and after his discharge studied on the G.I. Bill at the Actors’ Laboratory in Hollywood.
His first film role was in a 1952 drama about fraternity hazing, “For Men Only,” in which he played a sadistic fraternity leader; that led to a contract with Universal-International, which led to roles in a series of movies, mostly westerns (including “Law and Order,” in which he played Ronald Reagan’s no-good brother) and science fiction films, including “It Came From Outer Space.”
From The Moderate Voice comes the following tidbit from the professor where every warm blooded male would have to just shake their head in approval:
As the Professor he was often asked why he couldn’t repair the boat.
His stock response was “If you were stranded on a desert island with Ginger and Mary Ann would *you* fix the boat ?”
I always figured the professor never fixed the boat or figured a way off the island because he was never given any billing in the first years of the show and just was referred to, along with Dawn Wells, as “the rest”. Rest in Peace Russell Johnson. Thanks for the smiles.