R.I.P. Professor

Russell Johnson, who a generation of television fans knew as The Professor on the TV show Gilligan's Island, died today at his home in Washington state.  

The Professor was a good-looking but nerdy academic, an exaggerated stereotype of the man of capacious intelligence with little or no social awareness. Occasionally approached romantically by Ginger (and guest stars, including Zsa Zsa Gabor), he remained chaste and unaffected.

But he was pretty much the only character on the show who possessed anything resembling actual knowledge, and he was forever inventing methods to increase the castaways’ chance of rescue. Still, among the show’s many lapses of logic was the fact — often noted by Mr. Johnson in interviews — that although the Professor could build a shortwave radio out of a coconut shell, he couldn’t figure out how to patch a hole in a boat hull.

Professor Roy Hinkley was not his only role. Johnson appeared in movies beginning in 1952, and played in many Westerns both in film and on TV -usually as the villain. He also appeared in time-traveling episodes of The Twilight Zone twice.

What many fans do not know was that during World War II, Johnson was an Air Force Captain and flew 44 bombing missions. He was awarded many combat medals, and earned a Purple Heart after a plane crash. Johnson was 89 years old. -via Metafilter

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