Find out more about Russell Johnson, the well-known actor. Is Money Heist’s character with the same name inspired by the Professor from Gilligan’s Island?
Russell Johnson was the epitome of inconsistency. His acting career spanned more than 50 years, but he is most remembered for playing The Professor on the American sitcom Gilligan’s Island.
He played the bad brother of former US President Ronald Reagan in a film, yet his agent of over 20 years characterizes him as a thoughtful and courteous individual.
FACTS IN A NUTSHELL
|Full Name||Russell David Johnson, Jr.|
|Stage Name||Russell Johnson|
|Date of Birth||November 10, 1924|
|Place of Birth||Ashley, Pennsylvania|
|Date of Death||January 16, 2014|
|Father||Russell Kennedy Johnson, Sr. (1901- 1932)|
|Mother||Marion Wenona Smink (1902-1976)|
|Lived in||Bainbridge Island, Washington|
|Hair Color||Dark brown|
|Education||Actors’ Laboratory Theatre (Hollywood)|
|Spouse||Constance Dane (1982- 2014)
Kay Cousins (1949- 1980)
Edith Cahoon (1943-1948)
|Siblings||Kenneth W. Johnson (1925–2012)
David Reed Johnson (1926–1976)
Lois Marion Johnson (1927–1928)
Lorraine Johnson Crosby (1928-2015)
Marion Joan Johnson Reeves (1930–2010)
Paul Wesley Johnson (1932–1933)
|Children||Kim Johnson, David Johnson (died 1994)|
|Total Net worth||$10M|
|Awards & Recognitions||Purple Heart|
|Trivia||He almost died fighting in WWII.|
Russell Johnson is a well-known actor. Early Years
Russell Kennedy Johnson and Marion Wenonah Smink raised Johnson in Ashley, Pennsylvania. He was the oldest of seven siblings, and as a youngster, he was known as Johnny.
His father died of pneumonia when he was 31 years old, and his youngest brother Paul Wesley, who was just a year old at the time, died shortly after. Marion wedded Thomas S. Lewis later in life.
Russell was transferred to Girard College, an all-boys elite boarding school in Philadelphia, when his father died.
Russell Johnson is serving in the army.
He enlisted as an aviation cadet in the United States Army Air Force (then known as the US Army Air Corps) and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Russell served as a B-25 bombardier in the Pacific during WWII and performed 44 combat flights.
In March 1945, while flying as a navigator, his B-25 was shot down by Japanese soldiers somewhere in the Philippines. He and two coworkers, a bomber and a co-pilot, were forced to land in the water off the coast of Zamboanga.
The bomber’s co-pilot died in the emergency landing, and both Johnson’s ankles were broken. Johnson was awarded the Purple Heart, Air Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Philippine Liberation Ribbon, and World War II Victory Medal, among other honors.
He enlisted in the US Air Force Reserve in November 1945 and used his GI Bill to attend the Actor’s Laboratory Theatre in Hollywood.
Early Career of Russell Johnson
In 1950, he made his movie debut as a sailor in the short-lived television series Fireside Theater. He also played a mobster in a 1951 episode of The Adventures of Superman that was only two years later shown.
His first film was “For Men Only”, a drama about fraternity hazing, where Johnson played a sadistic fraternity head, in 1952.
Russell’s subsequent performances were mostly in Westerns, an action film genre replete with cowboys, horses, firearms, and shootouts. Rancho Notorious, in which he co-starred with blonde beauty Marlene Dietrich, was released in 1952. In Law and Order, he played the brother of former US President Ronald Reagan, and he also featured in Badman’s Country.
Russell also enjoyed science fiction films, starring in cult favorites such as It Came from Outer Space, This Island Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters, and The Space Children.
Russell Johnson: Television Programs
Johnson became a television mainstay with four appearances in the military drama The Silent Service. He also appeared in June Allyson’s CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson on two occasions.
He appeared in a 1961 episode of Thriller alongside William Shatner. In the CBS anthology series GE True, he played the role John Metcalf. He also appeared in ABC dramas such as The Real McCoys, The Dakotas, and Breaking Point.
The Twilight Zone’s Russell Johnson
He appeared in two episodes of The Twilight Zone, both of which included time travel. Russell played a scientist fine-tuning his time machine in the 1960 episode “Execution,” in which he mistakenly sent back a 19th century murderer. He was debating time travel with colleagues a year later, in 1961, only to find himself there for Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Gilligan’s Island’s Russell Johnson
Russell is most remembered for his role as The Professor in the American cultural landmark, the Gilligan’s Island TV series, despite his diverse acting abilities. From 1964 through 1967, CBS broadcasted the comedic series.
The sitcom follows seven shipwrecked castaways, each with their own distinct personality traits, as they attempt to live on the island. Thanks to Gilligan, their attempts to flee had all been in vain.
Bob Denver plays Gilligan, who is known for his signature red shirt, light-colored slacks, and white sneakers with a white naval hat. In the series, he is the clumsy first mate of the fictitious ship SS Minnow.
As Professor, Russell Johnson
He was requested to remove his shirt during his audition for the part. Despite his refusal, he was hired. The unique requirement was to balance two female characters (Ginger and Mary Ann) who were purposefully cast as sex symbols.
Russell was a high school teacher named The Professor Ron Hinkley who came aboard the SS Minnow to write a botany book. He created items out of coconuts and bamboo on the show. He was the most reasonable figure, brought in to settle castaway conflicts, in addition to being a Science nerd.
In comedy roles, Russell Johnson is typecast.
Russell’s participation in the show was both a benefit and a curse. He indicated in various interviews that he had fond recollections of his time on the show. However, once it ceased broadcasting, he struggled to get serious parts. He couldn’t manage to break his association with his job as Professor.
He, on the other hand, stated that he had no regrets about portraying the role.
Russell Johnson in the Spin-offs of Gilligan’s Island
Gilligan’s Island lasted for three seasons and 98 episodes, but it was so successful that a two-part made-for-TV movie, Rescue From Gilligan’s Island, was released in 1978. The castaways were successfully rescued in the film, but after a disastrous Hawaiian cruise reunion, they found themselves back on the island.
The castaways were entangled with stuntman cagers in The Harlem Globetrotters On Gilligan’s Island, which aired a year later.
Russell featured in these films as well as others such as Gilligan’s Island: The Castaways and Surviving Gilligan’s Island. He also appeared in Gilligan’s Island and The New Adventures of Gilligan.
The actors and creators of the show didn’t expect it to continue very long. However, fifty years later, the show’s spin-offs and repeats continue to draw large audiences on television and social media platforms like YouTube.
Russell Johnson’s Personal Life
During his lifespan, Johnson married three different women. His first wife was Edith Cahoon, whom he married in 1943 and divorced five years later. In 1949, he married Kay Cousins, a fellow Actors’ Lab student. Russell and Kay have a daughter named Kim and a son named David. Kay died in 1980.
Russell married Constance “Connie” Dane two years later, and they were married until his death in 2014. Russell became a stepfather to Courtney Dane after marrying Connie.
Johnson and Dane relocated to Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1988 after residing in Los Angeles since their marriage.
Russell Johnson has announced his retirement.
Johnson was able to collaborate on the book with writer Steve Cox because of the atmosphere on Bainbridge Island, “Here on Gilligan’s Isle,” published in 1993. The book took readers behind the scenes of the almost 50-year-old show.
While his acting career appeared to be over, Johnson continued to provide his voice to TV and radio characters and advertisements.
Russell’s son David, the Los Angeles HIV/AIDS coordinator, died of HIV-related complications in October 1994. David’s lifelong girlfriend had died of identical conditions eight years before, in 1986. Russell became an activist for HIV research and fundraising as a result of this.
What Caused Russell Johnson’s Death?
Russell died in his sleep in January 2014, at the age of 89, with his family at his side, including his wife Connie and daughter Kimberly. Johnson is also survived by a grandchild and his stepson, Courtney Dane.
Johnson died of renal failure, according to the doctor. His ashes were burned, and a month later, a memorial ceremony was performed.
His death came as a shock, as he had been signing autographs and making public appearances in the days leading up to his death.
With his death, only Tina Louise, who portrayed Ginger, and Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann, are the only living cast members of Gilligan’s Island as of mid-2020.
Russell Johnson is a well-known actor. Estimated Net Worth
|Estimated Net Worth (when he was alive)||$10M|
|What were Russell Johnson’s Income Sources?||Film and TV appearances, Voice acting, autographed trading & baseball cards|
Unfortunately, performers did not start earning money from syndicated shows until the 1970s. Johnson is unlikely to have received anything from the Gilligan’s Island syndicates.
With his ample earnings in acting, he was able to build this house in Bainbridge:
Russell Johnson transitioned to voice acting years before his death, in addition to performing in cinema and television. He also guest-starred in the late 1990s on TV shows “My Two Dads,” ”Dynasty” and “Newhart”.
He also autographed Topps trading cards and baseball cards, including Americana Private Signings from 2007, Panini Golden Age Historic Signatures from 2012, and Press Pass Platinum Cuts from 2012.
Russell autographed 2013 Topps 75th Anniversary cards only weeks before his death in 2014.
A signature for Topps cards is likely to sell up to $20 apiece, according to a discussion site. Others charge by the set, such as $100K for 300 cards. Following Johnson’s death, the value of his autographed cards is likely to have increased.
The Professor in Money Heist is a character who appears in the film Money Heist.
The Professor is a fictitious character in Netflix’s Money Heist. Both show mental genius, however Money Heist’s persona is wickedly crafty, whereas The Professor in Gilligan’s Island was a level-headed innovator. As a result of the similarities, both have the same moniker.