Gilligan's Island Star Russell Johnson Dead at 89

Russell Johnson DeadRussell Johnson, best known for playing “The Professor” on Gilligan’s Island, has died at the age of 89.

Johnson, who guest-starred on dozens of shows from Dynasty to The Jeffersons to Roseanne, played his trademark role of Gilligans scholarly castaway Roy Hinkley from 1964-1967 and in several subsequent TV movies. His career began in the 1950s in movies like It Came From Outer Space, Attack of the Crab Monsters and Johnny Dark. Prior to his “Professorial” breakout, he also starred in the short-lived TV western series Black Saddle and appeared twice in installments of Twilight Zone.

The news was broken by TMZ, who learned of Johnson’s passing via the Facebook page of his costar Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann and reported that he passed away in a Hospice facility surrounded by his wife and two children.

Of the show’s seven main cast members, only Wells and Tina Louise (who played Ginger) are still alive.

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  1. Tom says:

    Even to the very end, it was the professor and Mary Ann. RIP

    • MockingbirdGirl says:

      Errrr… and Ginger. Tina Louise is still alive.

      RIP, Professor. I’ll never forget when you taught me how eating soap can cure radioactivity. :)

  2. GuessWhat says:

    “passed,” Dawn. not “past.”
    yup — the Professor was the smartest of them all!

  3. GuessWhat says:

    TVLine — Wiki says he had two kids but one died. Hmmmm.

    • GuessWhat says:

      ah — according to NY TIMES — he also had a STEPSON: Mr. Johnson’s survivors include his wife, Connie; a daughter, Kim; a stepson, Court Dane; and a grandson.

  4. Nero theTVFiddler and the gang here in Silicon Valley says:

    Broken hearted. :(

    Russell Johnson’s acting career touched so many young people as we all grew up watching Gilligan’s Island and ‘The Professor’ make a transmitter out of coconuts and bamboo, or chatting with the neighboring island natives in their various languages and dialects. The coolest guy on the island – smart ‘go-to-guy’ to solve problems, ladies-man who didn’t fully realize it, and all-around good guy who was island peace-maker when all hell broke loose amongst the other castaways.

    He influenced a generation (or two) of young viewers who dreamed of being as smart and dashing as Professor Roy Hinkley – of studying and learning to solve problems and developing technology to improve life ‘on the island’. Much like the impact Star Trek and Star Wars had on young fans, many of us who work in high tech today owe a debt of gratitude to ‘The Professor’ for inspiring us to learn, invent and solve problems.

    One of a kind, and will be greatly missed.

    RIP Russell — and thank you.

  5. mdbchud says:

    Thank you for the good times and good laughs Mr Johnson. You will forever live on and have fans in syndication. Truly a show that will endure.

    Oh and btw, GuessWhat…. kind of tacky to correct Dawn Wells grammar in what was probably a difficult tweet to send out.

  6. Teag says:

    Aw man. It was a great show.

  7. jen says:

    Bummed. I had such a crush on the professor!

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  9. ninamags says:

    So, so sad to hear.

    He was the smartest and they would have gotten off the island if not for dumb a$$ Gilligan.

  10. Lori says:

    RIP Professor! My sympathies to his family, Dawn and Tina!

  11. The Professor says:

    I’m a professor today because of this man. So sad. Russell Johnson’s book, Here on Gilligan’s Isle, is absolutely wonderful. I’ll have to read it again soon.

  12. Bob says:

    As he said later in life, about his character on the show, he could make a radio out of coconuts and bamboo, but didn’t know how to patch a hole in a boat. RIP, Professor.

  13. Condolences to the family and friends of Russell Johnson. He played The Professor’s character well. He will be missed. Made an online memorial in his honor:

  14. Orlando says:

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  15. Angie says:

    Such a decent man. He was one of my favorite characters. RIP

  16. What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable know-how about unpredicted emotions.

  17. DEB says:

    I am watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island now! Always made me laugh! As of this date all cast members are sadly gone! I am so sorry to read that the’s wonderful actors of their time did not get their financial justice! RIP cast! I still enjoy your funny antics!

  18. V.E.G. says:

    Very ironically, Russell Johnson was on the very first episode of Buffalo Bill with Dabney Coleman, Dabney was auditioned for the role of Professor on Gilligan’s Island but lost to Johnson!