Friday, January 17, 2014

Goodbye Professor

  An extra post for today to say goodbye to an old friend.Russell Johnson, who played The Professor on Gilligan's Island died yesterday at the age of 89.

Russell David Johnson was born in Ashley, Pennsylvania on November 10, 1924.Before Gilligan's Island he was in scads of westerns and science fiction movies, usually as a villan.He appeared in the Science Fiction classics This Island Earth (Poor guy couldn't get away from Islands.), and It Came From Outer Space.

Did he bring this dress with him to the island? I think he gave it to Mary Ann.
Then came Gilligan.His career was never the same afterward. Like many who play an iconic role, he was forever afterward seen as his character. He still acted after Gilligan, but he would always be seen as The Professor. He seemed to be ok with it. He attended conventions and happily signed autographs for fans. (In fact, he attended a signing event over the recent holidays.) He even wrote a book called Here on Gilligan's Isle,The Professor's Behind the Scenes Guide to Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Gilligan's Island.
It's actually pretty interesting.

  The original opening for Gilligan's Island didn't include The Professor or Mary Ann. They were famously known as "and the rest".(Geez. There were only two more! They couldn't just add two more?!) After the first season Bob Denver, who played Gilligan, insisted that be changed, and Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells be included. He didn't have to do that. He was the star. But he must have realized that the show was an ensemble show. They were on Gilligan's Isle, but it was pretty equal really.
  Everybody born since 1964 has grown up with Gilligan's Island.I don't think there has been a time since it first aired that it hasn't been airing somewhere.(Yes, the humour was simple and often ridiculous, but it was well done and still funny.)I know I grew up with the show, being born in 1962. When I had my kids, I watched the show with them. They all loved it. My girls in particular went through their Gilligan stage. When Ivy was going through hers,a few years ago, we wrote to Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells(Mary Ann), and Tina Louise (Ginger) for autographs. Mr. Johnson and Tina Louise answered within a week or two.They both very kindly signed the two Gilligan collector cards we sent them.
We're still waiting on Dawn Wells...

  And yes, there was even a doll of him.
Target exclusive doll by Premier. The set of three dolls also included the Skipper and Gilligan.

  The character of The Professor obviously had a real name too.They only mentioned it once.Anybody remember it? Emma, I think you do. No cheating.(No internet searches! Try to remember or go watch some Gilligan!) I'll tell you tomorrow. (No, I'm not using the time to cheat.I do actually know.)
Goodbye Russell. See you later Professor.


  1. Very nice tribute. I never knew they had a doll of him.

  2. Premier made quite a few series of celebrity dolls. The men weren't too bad, especially some of them, but the women left alot to be desired.Unfortunately, they're only about 8" tall, so it's not likely any of them will ever visit Morristown! They were usually made in sets of three, except for George Burns and Gracie Allen. The sets I can remember are It's a Wonderful Life, The Honeymooners, The Beverly Hillbillies,2 different Laurel and Hardy sets,and White Christmas.(Ivy was disappointed there was no Vera Ellen!)


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