Gilligan’s Island professor, Russell Johnson, 89, dies

Russell Johnson, who played “the professor” in the 1960s TV show Gilligan’s Island, has died at 89.

Johnson, who was born in Pennsylvania and served in World War II, where he was shot down over the Philippines, was best known for his role as “the professor” on Gilligan’s Island.


One thing I did not know until now – the professor had a name!  He was Professor Roy Hinkley.  Get out of town.  Wikipedia reports that Johnson was asked to take off his shirt while auditioning for the role – he refused.

Wikipedia also notes that Johnson lost a son to complications of HIV/AIDS in 1994, and up until that time was a full-time volunteer for AIDS research fundraising (another thing I never knew).

Tina Louise (Ginger, who’s 79) and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann, who’s 75) are the only two surviving members of the Gilligan’s Island cast.

This is a quite interesting short about Russell as the professor, apparently he wasn’t originally cast for the show, and his character was different too.

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13 Responses to “Gilligan’s Island professor, Russell Johnson, 89, dies”

  1. woodroad34 says:

    He was there for drinks because he had to go to his daughter’s house for the dinner. I tried to get him to talk about Gilligan’s Island, but he politely demurred. He was fairly gentle with quiet humor. You had to pay attention to him to get it — in other words he wasn’t slap stick or loud and telling jokes; you had to be engaged in conversation with him, which was easy because it was like talking with an old friend.

  2. That’s funny

  3. slapshoe says:

    I got his autograph at a convention once (MST3K) and told him that I’d had a huge crush on him back in the day, but then threw him over for John Astin (a/k/a Gomez Addams). Without missing a beat, Russell said, “Well, he *is* pretty cute.” He was perfectly delightful.

  4. Valerie Steven says:

    he was charming and extremely funny. I believed he lived out on an island in the sound.

  5. 1tehamawhiteneck says:

    89 is not a bad ride. Good for him.

  6. Omg that would have been amazing

  7. usagi says:

    He was quite the 50s B-movie hunk as well.

  8. Lil Buddy says:

    Oops, -slaps self in head – Willy was of course Willy Gilligan, (Should have viewed some of those other trailers before responding)

  9. Indigo says:

    Another good guy gone . . . :(

  10. Lil Buddy says:

    They all had names, you just never heard them. The skipper was Jonas Grumby, Gilligan apparently only had a first name, “Willy”, Lovey’s true name was Eunice Wentworth Howell, Ginger was Ginger Grant and Marry Ann was Mary Ann Summers. (I knew the skipper, had to cheat and use Wikipedia to get the others.)

    I’m kind of bummed because my truck has broken down and all I have is a couple of coconuts and some palm fronds to fix it and I could have used the professors help. RIP Russell.

  11. woodroad34 says:

    I was up in Seattle for my first time one Thanksgiving to visit some writer friends. They had invited us to their house for Thanksgiving dinner and I was introduced to Russell; he was charming and extremely funny. I believed he lived out on an island in the sound.

  12. heimaey says:

    Oh no.

  13. karmanot says:

    Rest in Peace

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