Gilligan’s Island star Russell Johnson, known for his role as the ‘Professor’ on the 1960s sitcom, died Thursday at the age of 89.
“He died at 5:21 a.m. of natural causes at home in Washington state,” his agent, Michael Eisenstadt said. He also noted that Johnson passed in the company of his wife and daughter.
Gilligan’s Island ran from 1964 to 1967. Johnson’s official role was that of Professor Roy Hinkley, but everyone on the show simply referred to him as Professor or The Professor.
Dawn Wells played the role of Mary Ann on the TV show. Now one of only two of the surviving main characters (actor Tina Louise, who played the role of Ginger is now 79) she shared her sorrow about Russell Johnson’s passing via both Twitter and Facebook.
My 2 favorite people are now gone. The Professor past away this morning. My heart is broken. http://t.co/32afNb9wrW
— Dawn Wells (@therealmaryann) January 16, 2014
Gilligan’s Island featured four men and three women stranded on an uninhabited island after their boat–the S.S. Minnow became shipwrecked. Almost every show was dedicated to finding a way to get off the island and back to civilization. Whenever visitors managed to find their way on to the island, the pretty female ones always loved the Professor.
“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip,” the opening line to the Gilligan’s Island theme song promised fans. The show ended after 99 episodes. Three TV movies came later–Rescue from Gilligan’s Island in 1978, The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island in 1979 and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island in 1981.
Russell Johnson was survived by his third wife Constance. His son David died of AIDS in 1994 and Johnson became very active in fund-raising efforts to find a cure for the disease.
Were you a Gilligan’s Island fan? Was the Professor one of your favorite characters on the show?
Image via Wikimedia Commons