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Russell Johnson: The Professor on ‘Gilligan’s Island’

Russell Johnson credit 'Gilligan's Island'In the hit 1960s TV sitcom Gilligan’s Island, it was no accident that Roy “The Professor” Hinkley, portrayed by Russell Johnson, was the least-funny character.

The show’s creator, producer Sherwood Schwartz, needed an anchor for his otherwise lightweight cast of eccentric, inept castaways – a straight man who could rescue them from their various outlandish predicaments (though not from the island itself) and serve as a foil for their funny lines and pratfalls. As Schwartz would explain decades later in his memoir Inside Gilligan’s Island: “The Professor was the glue that held the more colorful characters in place in the Gilligan mosaic. And Russell Johnson played him perfectly: Intellectual, serious, sincere.”

But Johnson, who died on Jan. 16 at age 89 at his home on Bainbridge Island, Wash., did have comedic chops, too, as evidenced by this scene.


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Here are 10 facts about Johnson and the memorable character he helped to create:


Here is Johnson explaining the frustration of being initially lumped into “the rest” in the show’s theme song. After the first season, his character and that of Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells) were inserted at the end.


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