A piece of U.S. television history died on Jan. 16, when ‘Gilligan’s Island’ star Russell Johnson — widely known as The Professor — died of natural causes. He was 89 years old.
Russell Johnson, the beloved Professor on Gilligan’s Island, died on Jan. 16 of natural causes at his home in Washington state. His old costar Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on the iconic show, announced his passing on her Facebook page later that same day.
Russell Johnson Dies Of Natural Causes
Russell lived a long and celebrated life. He was a veteran of World War II, where he earned a Purple Heart as well as a World War II Victory Medal for his service in the United States Army Air Force.
When he returned to the states as a member of the Army Reserve, Russell used the GI Bill to pay for his acting studies. He began acting in films and on television in 1952, but he didn’t reach full celebrity status until he was cast as Professor Roy Hinkley on Gilligan’s Island in 1964. The series ran until 1967, and Russell continued acting — mostly in bit parts on shows like Dynasty and ALF — until 1997. Until his death on Jan. 16, he was one of only three members of the Gilligan’s Island cast still living.
“My 2 favorite people are now gone,” Dawn wrote in a heartfelt Facebook post. “The Professor past away this morning. My heart is broken.”
She followed up later on in the day, sharing an old picture of Russell with his third wife, Connie. “A picture of Russell and his lovely wife Connie. Russell was a true gentleman, a good father, a great friend, and ‘the rest’. I love him and shall miss him. My heart goes out to Connie and his daughter Kim. I love you.”
HollywoodLife.com sends thoughts and prayers to Russell’s family during this difficult time.
— Shaunna Murphy