While clearing out a stack running over with old magazines and books, I found a newspaper clipping from January, 2014. The headline reads, “Russell Johnson, “Gilligan’s Island” professor, has died.”
|The Professor and Gilligan: they're both gone now.
What’s the first thing you thought of when reading that name?
High school science teacher Roy Hinkley could rig up a four-bicycle-powered generator, create a glow-in-the-dark substance, and program a robot to walk to Hawaii. At times, he seemed the only level-headed castaway among the cast of seven.
|The Professor with one of his gadgets.
The comedy ran for three years in the mid-60s, but remains beloved in syndication. Johnson described the show’s enduring appeal because, “No one gets hurt. No murders. No car crashes. Just good, plain, silly fun – that’s the charm.”
The primitive island setting makes it ageless. That includes the actors. We always see them at the age they were during filming. Johnson was about 40.
His obituary details his World War II service. Like Vinny Zamperini, he was a B-24 bombardier flying missions in the Pacific theater. His plane was shot down over the Philippines and he broke both ankles.
|Before Gilligan's Island, Russell Johnson acted in many westerns, often as the villian.
The GI Bill enabled him to enroll in the Actors Lab in Hollywood after his discharge. If not for that, we may not have had The Professor.