Friday, January 17, 2014

Russell Johnson, "The Professor" of Gilligan's Island, Dead at 89

Image from source, New York Times
I had a bit of a surreal experience today at work. While I was waiting for my computer to complete an action, I tabbed over to Facebook, which I had running in the background. From my Hollywood Babylon group was a reposting of something Dawn Wells ("Mary Ann" of Gilligan's Island) had just posted. It was the sad notice that two of her favorite people were now dead, along with a picture of herself with Russell Johnson and Bob Denver (Gilligan himself). Since Denver has been gone since 2005, the message was clear. She posted a follow-up, with more remembrance.

I looked around on Twitter, and on Google. Nothing. Nothing at all. I figured if anyone would know, Wells would, so I posted a quick (I was at work, after all) tweet and Facebook message. Later, at lunch, I checked to see if there was anything more, and of course, there was. #RussellJohnson, #TheProfessor and #GilligansIsland were all trending on Twitter. It was true. And for a brief time, I sort of had the inside track, not that it really matters.

Gilligan's Island was a staple of my childhood, when television was the three network stations, fuzzy UHF, and at some point very basic cable, that went all the way up to channel 13! Along with The Brady Bunch (by the same creator, Sherwood Schwartz), Star Trek, Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, Speed Racer and Spider-Man, Johnson's show was in heavy rotation. And of all of those shows, and all of those actors and characters, it was Johnson's Professor Roy Hinkley character that. . .ahem. . .inspired a curious attraction. I couldn't name it then, in my pre-teens, but I know it now!

RIP Mr. Johnson. Thanks for the memories.


Russell Johnson, Professor on ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ Dies at 89
Russell Johnson, an actor who made a living by often playing villains in westerns until he was cast as the Professor, the brains of a bunch of sweetly clueless, self-involved, hopelessly na├»ve island castaways, on the hit sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” died on Thursday at his home in Bainbridge Island, Wash. He was 89. His agent, Michael Eisenstadt, confirmed the death. . .

Read more at: New York Times

1 comment:

  1. I could have swore he was already dead.
    And yes, I remember the days of black and white TV, 4 channels-ABC, NBC,CBS and PBS and a few UHF channels. Actually, I grew up not knowing there UHF channels- only when I was a teenager did I finally found them. And 24 hour TV, forget about it.
    Sigh. I'm getting really old.


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