Professor of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Fame Dead

Professor Gilligan's Island Dead

Russell Johnson, who is most famous for playing the professor on Gilligan’s Island, passed away Thursday morning at the age of 89, according to his agent.

The actor died in his Washington state home from natural causes, according to his agent.  However, his wife Constance confirmed to ABC News that he had died of kidney failure.

“He died at home, peaceful, in his sleep at 5:21 am today,” she said. “[He was] a very brave guy who knew what he wanted, and he wanted to be at home.”

Johnson was the last living male cast member from Gilligan’s Island, which went off the air in 1967.  Bob Denver (Gilligan) passed away in 2005; Alan Hale (the Skipper), in 1990; and Jim Backus (Mr. Howell), in 1989.  Of the female cast members, Natalie Shafer (Mrs. Howell) passed away in 1991.  Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) and Tina Louise (Ginger) are still living.

Johnson was born in rural northeastern Pennsylvania and attended a private boarding school for orphans.  He later joined the Air Force and served during World War II.  In a case of life imitating art, Johnson’s B-25 bomber was shot down at one point, leaving him on an island in the Philippines.  He broke his ankles during the crash and was awarded a Purple Heart.

A decade after his military service, Johnson became an actor, appearing in westerns and sci-fi films and TV shows.  He is best remembered, however, for his role in Gilligan’s Island.

No details appear to be available yet about funeral arrangements.

By Nancy Schimelpfening


The Wrap

ABC News

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