Russell Johnson in 2004.
Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Russell Johnson, the man who portrayed Professor Roy Hinkley on classic TV hit Gilligan’s Island, died Thursday at the age of 89 of kidney failure. “He died at home, peaceful, in his sleep at 5:21 am today,” his wife Constance told ABC News. “[He was] a very brave guy who knew what he wanted, and he wanted to be at home.” From 1964 to 1967, Johnson appeared in 98 of the show’s 99 episodes and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, remained proud of his work there until the end of his life. He once wrote: “I think, what I love most at this point in time in the long life of Gilligan’s Island is the positive, intelligent nature of longtime Gilligan aficionados.”
TV Land president Larry W. Jones paid tribute to the actor, saying, “We are deeply saddened to have learned of the passing of Russell Johnson, the beloved ‘Professor.’ We extend our deepest condolences to his family. Gilligan’s Island is one of the most iconic television series in pop culture history. The news about Russell makes its return to TV Land on Monday all the more meaningful.”