Russell Johnson, 'Gilligan's Island' Professor, Dies at 89

Image: Russell Johnson, 'Gilligan's Island' Professor, Dies at 89

Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 05:52 PM

By David Ogul

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Russell Johnson, who portrayed the Professor on the classic 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” has died of natural causes, and fans of the show were flooding Twitter with comments upon hearing about the death.

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Johnson was 89. His agent, Mike Eisenstadt, told The Associated Press that Johnson died Thursday morning at his home in the state of Washington.

Johnson played the role of high school science teacher Roy Hinkley, but was known to those aboard the shipwrecked Minnow simply as “The Professor.” Hinkley could build generators out of junk he salvaged on the uncharted desert isle, and he even tried to make a telephone out of a coconut. But he could never figure out how to patch up the boat.

While critics lambasted the show, which lasted just three seasons, it became a cultural icon through syndication. Josh Gad of “The Book of Mormon” has been signed to help write a screenplay for and play a lead role in the movie about the seven stranded castaways.

While Johnson was perhaps best known for his role as the Professor, he was a successful character actor before the show aired. He appeared on the science fiction classics “It Came From Outer Space” and “This Island Earth.” He also appeared on "The Twilight Zone."

Johnson served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and earned a Purple Heart after his plane was shot down over the Philippines in 1945.

“Great guy, very respectful, he loved his family,” Eisenstadt told Yahoo TV. He added that Johnson was a “very positive guy” who lived in the Pacific Northwest because “he didn’t want to be in that scene” known as Hollywood.

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