Russell David Johnson, passed away at his residence on Bainbridge Island, Washington on Thursday, January 16, 2014. He was born on November 10, 1924 in Ashley, Pennsylvania to Russell Kennedy and Marinne Winona Johnson.
Russell was an American television and film actor best known as "The Professor" on the CBS television sitcom Gilligan's Island.
He became a close friend of Audie Murphy and later appeared with him in three of his films, Column South and Tumbleweed in 1953 and Ride Clear of Diablo in 1954. Johnson's Hollywood career began in 1952, with the college fraternity hazing exposť For Men Only, and with Loan Shark, also released in 1952 and starring George Raft. His early roles were primarily in westerns and science fiction such as It Came from Outer Space (1953), This Island Earth (1955), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1956), and The Space Children (1958). He also appeared in a Ma and Pa Kettle vehicle, Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki (1955).
During the 1950s, he guest starred on Rod Cameron's syndicated crime drama, City Detective. He played the head of a gang of crooks in Episode 17 of season 1 of The Adventures of Superman (January, 1953). He was cast on the religion anthology series, Crossroads. He played "The Sundown Kid" in an episode of the 1958 NBC western series, Jefferson Drum. He guest starred too in another NBC western series, The Californians.
Late in 1958, Johnson and Joe Flynn were cast in the episode "The Bells of Fear" of the syndicated adventure series, Rescue 8, starring Jim Davis and Lang Jeffries. In the story line, an elderly clockmaker trying to repair the chimes in a church clock is trapped inside the instrument just before Christmas Eve.
Johnson was cast in the role of Darius in the 1959 episode, "The Unwilling", of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds. In the story line, businessman Dan Simpson, played by Eddie Albert, attempts to open a general store in the American West despite a raid from Mississippi River pirates who stole from him $20,000 in merchandise. Debra Paget is cast in this episode as Lela Russell; John M. Pickard, uncredited, as a river pirate.
Johnson appeared three times on the syndicated military drama The Silent Service, based on actual stories of the submarine section of the United States Navy. Johnson was cast as Hugh Grafton and as Tom Richards in two 1960 episodes, "Intermission" and "The Desperate Challenge", both with June Allyson on her CBS anthology series, The DuPont Show with June Allyson. Johnson was cast as John T. Metcalf in the 1962 episode "Mile-Long Shot to Kill" of CBS's anthology series, GE True, hosted by Jack Webb. In 1963, he was cast in an episode of the short-lived ABC/Warner Brothers western series, The Dakota. Later in that same year, he was cast in the series premiere of the ABC medical drama Breaking Point starring Paul Richards and Eduard Franz.He was best known for playing Professor Roy Hinkley (usually referred to as "The Professor"), the very knowledgeable polymath who could build all sorts of inventions out of the most rudimentary materials available on the island, but, as Johnson himself pointed out, could not fix the hole in the boat. Gilligan's Island aired from 1964 to 1967, but has been shown in reruns continuously ever since.
He is survived by his wife Constance Johnson, daughter Kimberly Johnson, sister Lorraine Crosby, step-son Court Dane and grandson Max Dane. Niece Alison Aylesworth, and many other loving nieces and nephews. Russell was preceded in death by his son David Johnson.
Family and friends are respectfully invited to attend the Memorial Service on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 1:00 PM at the Kiana Lodge: 14976 Sandy Hook Rd. NE
Poulsbo WA 98370. A reception will follow. Memorial contributions can be made to Russell's favorite African Village Charity: www.yekoanim.com or Hospice of Kitsap County. Looking for accommodations near the Kiana Lodge? Click here.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home on Bainbridge Island, Washington.