Russell Johnson, who played the beloved Professor on “Gilligan’s Island”, has passed away at 89.
The actor died of kidney failure at his home in Washington state. His co-stars confirmed his sad passing.
Russell 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.
After returning from serving in the military, Johnson used the GI Bill to pay for his acting classes. He began his career in movies and television in 1952, but became famous once he was cast as Professor Roy Hinkley on Gilligan’s Island in 1964.
The series ran until 1967, and Russell continued his acting career in small parts on television shows such as “ALF” and “Dynasty”.
Johnson’s wife stated, “He died at home, peaceful, in his sleep at 5:21 am today. [He was] a very brave guy who knew what he wanted, and he wanted to be at home.”
Johnson is survived by wife Constance and daughter Kim. His son, David, died of AIDS in 1994 at age 39.
Johnson was the last surviving male of his Gilligan’s Island costars. Bob Denver (Gilligan) died in 2005, Alan Hale, Jr. (Skipper) died in 1990, and Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III) passed away in 1989. Natalie Schafer (Eunice “Lovey” Wentworth Howell) died in 1991.
Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann Summers on “Gilligan’s Island”, wrote on her Facebook, “My 2 favorite people are now gone. The Professor past away this morning. My heart is broken.”
She later added, “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.”
Dawn and Tina Louise, who played the sexy movie star Ginger, are the only surviving stars form the popular show.
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