Gilligan's Island Professor dead at 89

CREATED Jan. 16, 2014

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Russell Johnson, who played the professor on “Gilligan’s Island,” died Thursday morning, his agent confirmed to TheWrap. He was 89.

Johnson died at his home in Washington state of natural causes, his agent, Michael Eisenstadt said.

Johnson was the last surviving male castaway from the TV series that ran from 1964 to 1967. Bob Denver (Gilligan) died in 2005; Alan Hale (the Skipper) died in 1990; and Jim Backus (Mr. Howell) died in 1989. Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Howell) died in 1991; Dawn Wells and Tina Louise (Mary Ann and Ginger) are the last surviving castmembers.

Born in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, Johnson graduated from a private boarding school for orphaned children before joining the Air Force, flying dozens of combat missions in World War II – including one that turned him into a real-life castaway in the Philippines in 1945. Johnson’s B-25 bomber was shot down by heavy flak; he broke both his ankles during the mission, and received the Purple Heart.

Johnson’s acting career started nearly a decade later, with early roles in westerns and sci-fi movies and TV shows, including “It Came From Outer Space,” “This Island Earth” and “Attack of the Crab Monsters.”