The man best known for his role as Professor Roy Hinkley in the hit show died aged 89
Russell Johnson has sadly passed away at his Washington home after suffering from kidney failure at the age of 89. The actor and decorated army veteran garned acting 160 credits to his name before retiring from showbiz for good at the end of the 1990's and he leaves behind an admirable legacy as a true professional and as a genuine friend to those lucky enough to know him.
His death was confirmed on Facebook by fellow Gilligan star Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on the show, who wrote on her FB page on Thursday, 16 January: "My 2 favorite people are now gone. The Professor past away this morning. My heart is broken."
Her other favourite person, referred to in her message, was Bob Denver, who played Gilligan in the show and died in 2005.
Scoring his last acting credit in 1997 for the TV series Meego, Johnson's acting career began almost fifty years earlier when he appeared as an extra in Fireside Theatre, going on to play various bit part roles until his career began to gain serious momentum by the 1960's. It was then, in 1964, when he was given his most prominent role to date, that of Professor Roy Hinkley in the hit lost-at-sea adventure series Gilligan's Island. Starring in just short of 100 episodes over the show's three year run, Johnson never quite found a similar standard of success again in his years, but that never deterred him from giving committed performances and for serving as a true professional throughout his career.
Prior to his acting career, Johnson served a distinguished term in the United States Army Air Corps during the Second World War. His valor earned him the Purple Heart, the recognition coming when his B-24 Liberator was shot down in the Philippines during a bombing run in March, 1945, after which he managed to survive long enough to be rescued as the War in the Pacific continued to liberate islands in the Philippines.
Johnson is survived by his third wife, Constance Dane, and three children: his biological children from his second marriage; David and Kim Johnson, and his step-son from his current marriage, Courtney Dane. Our thoughts are with them in this difficult time.
The BBC drama starring Aidan Turner returns to BBC One on September 4th.