Russell Johnson, "Gilligan" Professor, Has Died

By: Carissa Fox
By: Carissa Fox
The actor who played "The Professor" on "Gilligan

Russell Johnson, as the professor, posing during filming of a two-hour reunion show, "The Return from Gilligan's Island," in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, 1978. AP Photo/Wally Fong

CBS News The actor who played "The Professor" on "Gilligan's Island," Russell Johnson, has died.

His agent, Mike Eisenstadt, told CBS News that Johnson died Thursday morning at his home in Washington State of natural causes. He was 89.

Johnson was a busy but little-known character actor, who had made guest appearances on shows like "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Twilight Zone," when he was cast in the slapstick 1960s comedy about seven people marooned on an uncharted Pacific island.

His character, high school science teacher Roy Hinkley, built generators and other gadgets out of scraps of junk found on the island. Johnson later joked that the one thing The Professor never figured out how to do was to fix the leaky boat so the group could get back to civilization.

During its three-season run on CBS, critics lambasted the show. But after its 1967 cancellation, it found generations of new fans in reruns and reunion movies, including 1978's "Rescue from Gilligan's Island" and 1981's "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island."

It was difficult for Johnson to land additional parts after the series ended, having been somewhat typecast in the Professor character, but he did continue to make sporadic guest appearances, including on a 1987 episode of "Newhart" where his character made reference to "Gillian's Island."

Johnson had been married to his third wife, former actress Constance Dane, since 1982. He had two children with his previous wife, Kay Cousins Johnson, also an actress, who died in 1980.

The only two surviving main cast members of "Gilligan's Island" are now Tina Louise, who played the voluptuous movie star Ginger Grant, and Dawn Wells, who portrayed the girl-next-door-type Mary Ann Summers.


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