Born in Ashley, Pennsylvania, on November 10, 1924, Russell Johnson came from a large family. In the early 1930s, his father passed away, at which time he was sent to a boarding school. After graduating from high school and serving his country in World War II, Johnson studied acting while working menial jobs and serving in the Air Force Reserve Corp. An early marriage to first wife, Edith, ended after just a few years. He married his second wife, actress Kay Cousins, in 1949. Johnson's big break came in the 1952 film For Men Only, and his performance impressed Universal-International talent scouts who signed him to a contract soon after his film debut. Universal cast him in often villainous roles in a string of westerns, including Seminole (1953), The Stand at Apache River (1954), and Ride Clear of Diablo (1954).

Russell Johnson

Early 1950s Universal-International photo of Russell Johnson

Johnson also acted in several science fiction films, such as It Came From Outer Space (1953; with Richard Carlson), This Island Earth (1955; with Rex Reason and Faith Domergue), and Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957; with Richard Crane). But his most famous role came when he was cast as Professor Roy Hinkley Jr. in the 1964-1967 CBS comedy series Gilligan's Island. Unfortunately, after the series ended Johnson was so identified with his role as the Professor that he had trouble finding good parts. However, he kept his career going by acting on a number of TV series through the late 1990s and appearing in made-for-TV films.

the films of russell johnson

It Came From Outer Space (1953)

Joe Sawyer and Russell JohnsonBarbara Rush, Richard Carlson, and Russell Johnson

From Universal's classic science fiction flick It Came from Outer Space. LEFT: With character actor Joe Sawyer. RIGHT: With Barbara Rush and Richard Carlson

Tumbleweed (1953)

Russell JohnsonLori Nelson, Roy Roberts, and Russell JohnsonLori Nelson, Russell Johnson, Audie Murphy, and Chill Wills

Images from the western Tumbleweed. LEFT: Johnson as Lam Blandon. CENTER: With Lori Nelson and Roy Roberts. RIGHT: With Lori Nelson, Audie Murphy, and Chill Wills

Ride Clear of Diablo (1954)

Russell Johnson

Promotional photo from Ride Clear of Diablo

This Island Earth (1955)

Russell JohnsonRussell Johnson

From This Island Earth with Rex Reason and Faith Domergue

Crossroads (1955-1957 ABC TV Series)

Russell Johnson

Johnson has just held up a bank in an episode of ABC's Crossroads titled A Holiday with Father Jim, which originally aired in June 1956

Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

Russell JohnsonRussell JohnsonRichard Garland, Pamela Duncan, Russell Johnson, and Leslie Bradley

From Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters. LEFT: As Hank Chapman. CENTER and RIGHT: With Richard Garland and Pamela Duncan

The Saga of Hemp Brown (1958)

Rory Calhoun and Russell Johnson

With Rory Calhoun in the Universal-International western The Saga of Hemp Brown

Black Saddle (1959-1960 ABC TV Series)

Russell Johnson and Peter Breck

Johnson starred alongside Peter Breck in the 1959-1960 NBC/ABC series Black Saddle

Gilligan's Island (1964-1967 CBS TV series)

Russell JohnsonRussell Johnson, Dawn Wells, Bob Denver, Tina Louise, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, and Alan Hale Jr.

Images from Gilligan's Island. LEFT: Johnson as Professor Roy Hinkley Jr. RIGHT: Cast photo. Pictured are Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells, Bob Denver, Tina Louise, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, and Alan Hale Jr.

russell johnson today

The enduring popularity of Gilligan's Island led to several TV reunion films in the 1970s and 1980s. Johnson returned to the role of the Professor in the made-for-TV films Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978), The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979), and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981). In addition, he lent his vocal talents to the animated series The New Adventures of Gilligan (1974-1977) and Gilligan's Planet (1982-1983). Johnson's wife, Kay, passed away in 1980 at the age of 56, and he married his third wife, actress Constance Dane, in 1982. Sadly, Russell Johnson passed away from natural causes on January 16, 2014, at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife, Constance, and daughter Kim. His son David passed away from complications from the AIDS virus in 1994.

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Surviving Gilligan's Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Three Hour Tour in History (2001)
With a Vengeance (1992) with Melissa Gilbert and Jack Scalia
Blue Movies (1988) with Larry Linville
Robotech II: The Sentinels (1986)
Off the Wall (1983) with Paul Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette
The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981) with Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Dawn Wells, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, and Barbara Bain
The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979) with Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Dawn Wells, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, and Tom Bosley
The Great Skycopter Rescue (1978) with Aldo Ray
Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978) with Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Dawn Wells, Jim Backus, and Natalie Schafer
The Bastard (1978) with Andrew Stevens, Tom Bosley, Cameron Mitchell, and Donald Pleasence
The Ghost of Flight 401 (1978) with Ernest Borgnine, Kim Basinger, and Howard Hesseman
MacArthur (1977) with Gregory Peck, Nicholas Coster, and Barry Coe
Sammy (1977) with Alan Hale Jr.
Hewitt's Just Different (1977) with Moosie Drier and Peggy McKay
Nowhere to Hide (1977) with Lee Van Cleef
Collision Course (1976) with Henry Fonda
You Lie So Deep, My Love (1975) with Don Galloway
Adventures of the Queen (1975) with Robert Stack, Bradford Dillman, Francine York, and Ralph Bellamy
Aloha Means Goodbye (1974) with Sally Struthers and James Franciscus
Beg, Borrow, or Steal (1973) with Kent McCord, Mike Connors, and Michael Cole
The Horror at 37,000 Feet (1973) with Chuck Connors, Tammy Grimes, Buddy Ebsen, William Shatner, France Nuyen, and Roy Thinnes
Vanished (1971) with Richard Widmark, James Farentino, Tom Bosley, and Sheree North
The Movie Murderer (1970) with Warren Oates, Tom Selleck, and Nita Talbot
Hitch Hike to Hell (1968)
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) with Shelley Winters and an all-star cast
Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964) with Yul Brynner
A Distant Trumpet (1964) with Troy Donahue, Suzanne Pleshette, Diane McBain, and William Reynolds
The Space Children (1958) with Peggy Webber, Jackie Coogan, and Johnny Crawford
The Saga of Hemp Brown (1958) with Rory Calhoun, Beverly Garland, Yvette Vickers, and Allan 'Rocky' Lane
Badman's Country (1958) with George Montgomery, Buster Crabbe, and Neville Brand
Courage of Black Beauty (1957) with Johnny Crawford, Ziva Rodann, and Diane Brewster
Rock All Night (1957) with Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Bruno VeSota, Abby Dalton, and the Platters
Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) with Richard Garland, Beach Dickerson, and Mel Welles
Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki (1955) with Marjorie Main, Lori Nelson, and Percy Kilbride
This Island Earth (1955) with Rex Reason, Faith Domergue, Jeff Morrow, and Lance Fuller
Strange Lady in Town (1955) with Greer Garson, Adele Jergens, Dana Andrews, Cameron Mitchell, and Nick Adams
Many Rivers to Cross (1955) with Robert Taylor, Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn, Rosemary DeCamp, and Alan Hale Jr.
Black Tuesday (1954) with Edward G. Robinson, Peter Graves, and Jack Kelly
Johnny Dark (1954) with Piper Laurie and Tony Curtis
Ride Clear of Diablo (1954) with Audie Murphy and Susan Cabot
Tumbleweed (1953) with Audie Murphy, Lori Nelson, Lee Van Cleef, and Roy Roberts
The Stand at Apache River (1953) with Julie Adams, Hugh O'Brian, Hugh Marlowe, and Jack Kelly
Column South (1953) with Audie Murphy, Jack Kelly, and James Best
It Came from Outer Space (1953) with Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush
Law and Order (1953) with Ronald Reagan, Dorothy Malone, and Jack Kelly
Seminole (1953) with Rock Hudson, Hugh O'Brian, Richard Carlson, and Barbara Hale
Back at the Front (1952) with Mari Blanchard, Tom Ewell, Richard Long, and Harvey Lembeck
For Men Only (1952) with Paul Henreid, Margaret Field, and Vera Miles
The Turning Point (1952) with William Holden, Edmond O'Brien, and Alexis Smith
Loan Shark (1952) with George Raft

Santa Barbara, 1984-1993 daytime drama. Johnson portrayed Roger Wainwright during the 1991 season
Gilligan's Planet, 1982 animated series. Johnson lent his vocal talents to this Saturday morning cartoon
The New Adventures of Gilligan, 1974-1977 animated series. Johnson lent his vocal talents to this Saturday morning cartoon
Gilligan's Island, 1964-1967 CBS TV series. Johnson portrayed Professor Roy Hinkley Jr. Also in the cast were Tina Louise, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Dawn Wells, Bob Denver, and Natalie Schafer
Black Saddle, 1959-1960 TV series. Johnson portrayed Marshal Gib Scott

Meego, episode Mommy 'n' Meego, originally aired January 1, 1997
Roseanne, episode Sherwood Schwartz--A Loving Tribute, originally aired May 24, 1995
Space Ghost Coast to Coast, episode Gilligan, originally aired April 22, 1994
My Two Dads, episode The Man in the Pink Slip, originally aired February 8, 1989
Monsters, episode Sleeping Dragon, originally aired December 10, 1988
Mathnet, episode The Case of the Willing Parrot, originally aired September 19, 1988
Knots Landing, episode The Trouble with Peter, originally aired October 1, 1987
ALF, episode Somewhere Over the Rerun, originally aired September 28, 1987
Dynasty, episode Shadow Play, originally aired May 6, 1987
Newhart, episode Much to Do Without Muffin, originally aired April 13, 1987
Fame, episode The Big Contract, originally aired February 16, 1987
Dynasty, episode The Arraignment, originally aired November 5, 1986
MacGyver, episode Ugly Duckling, originally aired March 12, 1986
Dallas, episode Twenty-Four Hours, originally aired January 10, 1986
Buffalo Bill, episode Pilot, originally aired June 1, 1983
The Jeffersons, episode Death Smiles on a Dry Cleaner: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired November 21 and 28, 1982
Bosom Buddies, episode Amy's Career, originally aired January 29, 1981
Beyond Westworld, episode Take-Over, originally aired January 1, 1980
Lou Grant, episode Babies, originally aired December 11, 1978
The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, episode Disco Devil, originally aired October 20, 1978
Police Story, episode No Margin for Error, originally aired April 30, 1978
ABC Afterschool Specials, episode Hewitt's Just Different, originally aired October 12, 1977
McMillan & Wife, episode Coffee, Tea, or Cyanide?, originally aired January 30, 1977
Dynasty, episode Chapter IX, originally aired November 30, 1976
Rich Man, Poor Man - Book II, episode Chapter VIII, originally aired November 23, 1976
Mobile One, episode Californium 252, originally aired October 27, 1975
Mobile One, episode The Informant, originally aired September 12, 1975
Cannon, episode Lady on the Run, originally aired March 5, 1975
Mannix, episode The Green Men, originally aired October 20, 1974
Cannon, episode Blood Money, originally aired February 6, 1974
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, episode An Often and Familiar Ghost, originally aired January 4, 1973
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, episode Five Will Get You Six, originally aired October 26, 1972
Gunsmoke, episode The Fugitives, originally aired October 23, 1972
Ironside, episode Programmed for Panic, originally aired September 28, 1972
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, episode The Color of Respect, originally aired February 10, 1972
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, episode Run, Carol, Run, originally aired January 20, 1972
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, episode The Triangle, originally aired December 30, 1971
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, episode Men Who Care: Part 2, originally aired October 21, 1971
O'Hara, U.S. Treasury, episode Operation: Bribery, originally aired October 8, 1971
Marcus Welby, M.D., episode I Can Hardly Tell You Apart, originally aired October 5, 1971
The Young Lawyers, episode The Bradbury War, originally aired February 17, 1971
San Francisco International Airport, episode Crisis, originally aired November 18, 1970
The F.B.I., episode The Quest, originally aired March 8, 1970
That Girl, episode Ugh, Wilderness, originally aired February 5, 1970
That Girl, episode Fly by Night, originally aired January 29, 1970
Lassie, episode Father and Son, originally aired November 9, 1969
Gunsmoke, episode The Long Night, originally aired February 17, 1969
The F.B.I., episode Caesar's Wife, originally aired January 26, 1969
Death Valley Days, episode The Pieces of the Puzzle, originally aired May 11, 1968
Felony Squad, episode The Human Target, originally aired March 7, 1968
The F.B.I., episode The Dynasty, originally aired January 7, 1968
The Big Valley, episode The Good Thieves, originally aired January 1, 1968
The Invaders, episode The Trial, originally aired October 10, 1967
The Outer Limits, episode Specimen: Unknown, originally aired February 24, 1964
The Greatest Show on Earth, episode Man in a Hole, originally aired February 18, 1964
77 Sunset Strip, episode The Toy Jungle, originally aired December 6, 1963
The Farmer's Daughter, episode The Stand-In, originally aired November 1, 1963
Breaking Point, episode Solo for B-Flat Clarinet, originally aired September 16, 1963
Rawhide, episode Incident at Alkali Sink, originally aired May 24, 1963
Laramie, episode Badge of Glory, originally aired May 7, 1963
Lassie, episode Operation Woodland, originally aired April 21, 1963
Empire, episode Arrow in the Sky, originally aired April 9, 1963
The Eleventh Hour, episode Like a Diamond in the Sky, originally aired February 13, 1963
Hawaiian Eye, episode Go for Baroque, originally aired February 12, 1963
The Dakotas, episode Mutiny at Fort Mercy, originally aired January 21, 1963
G.E. True, episode Mile-Long Shot to Kill, originally aired November 25, 1962
Laramie, episode Double Eagles, originally aired November 20, 1962
Wagon Train, episode The Shiloh Degnan Story, originally aired November 7, 1962
Lassie, episode Fawn Patrol, originally aired November 4, 1962
Ben Casey, episode Go Not Gently Into the Night, originally aired October 29, 1962
The Wide Country, episode Who Killed Edde Gannon?, originally aired October 11, 1962
The Law and Mr. Jones, episode The Boy Who Said No, originally aired April 26, 1962
Tales of Wells Fargo, episode To Kill a Town, originally aired March 31, 1962
Route 66, episode Go Read the River, originally aired March 16, 1962
Laramie, episode The Dynamiters, originally aired March 6, 1962
Laramie, episode The Perfect Gift, originally aired January 2, 1962
Adventures in Paradise, episode Survival, originally aired December 31, 1961
The Detectives, episode The Queen of Craven Point, originally aired December 22, 1961
Alcoa Premiere, episode The End of a World, originally aired December 19, 1961
Hawaiian Eye, episode The Kapua of Coconut Bay, originally aired October 4, 1961
Ripcord, episode The Sky Diver, originally aired September 28, 1961
The Deputy, episode Lawman's Conscience, originally aired July 1, 1961
Laramie, episode Killer Odds, originally aired April 25, 1961
Death Valley Days, episode Dead Men's Tale, originally aired February 26, 1961
Twilight Zone, episode Back There, originally aired January 13, 1961
Thriller, episode The Hungry Glass, originally aired January 3, 1961
The DuPont Show with June Allyson, episode The Desperate Challenge, originally aired December 15, 1960
The DuPont Show with June Allyson, episode Intermission, originally aired May 2, 1960
Twilight Zone, episode Execution, originally aired April 1, 1960
Riverboat, episode The Unwilling, originally aired October 11, 1959
Gunsmoke, episode The Bear, originally aired February 28, 1959
Lawman, episode The Encounter, originally aired January 18, 1959
Wagon Train, episode The Beauty Jamison Story, originally aired December 17, 1958
Rescue 8, episode The Bells of Fear, originally aired December 9, 1958
The Californians, episode Overland Mail, originally aired October 28, 1958
Lassie, episode The Crash, originally aired October 6, 1958
Steve Canyon, episode Project Heartbeat, originally aired October 4, 1958
Jefferson Drum, episode A Very Deadly Game, originally aired May 30, 1958
The Silent Service, episode Mine for Keeps, originally aired May 16, 1958
Wagon Train, episode The Cliff Grundy Story, originally aired December 25, 1957
Casey Jones, episode The Trackwalker, originally aired November 4, 1957
The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, episode Rusty's Reward, originally aired October 4, 1957
The Silent Service, episode Two Davids & Goliath, originally aired July 5, 1957
The Silent Service, episode The Tirante Plays a Hunch, originally aired June 14, 1957
Lux Video Theatre, episode Payment in Kind, originally aired June 6, 1957
Tales of Wells Fargo, episode Rio Grande, originally aired June 3, 1957
Code 3, episode The Fugitive, originally aired May 21, 1957
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode Vicious Circle, originally aired April 14, 1957
Cavalcade of America, episode Don Marshall's Brat, originally aired March 19, 1957
Gunsmoke, episode Bloody Hands, originally aired February 16, 1957
Circus Boy, episode Corky and the Circus Doctor, originally aired October 21, 1956
You Are There, episode Mr. Christian Seizes the Bounty, originally aired October 7, 1956
Crossroads, episode A Holiday for Father Jim, originally aired June 22, 1956
Crossroads, episode God in the Street, originally aired May 25, 1956
Celebrity Playhouse, episode Incident in Rio, originally aired May 15, 1956
Climax!, episode The Lou Gehrig Story, originally aired April 19, 1956
The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, episode The Tin Soldier, originally aired January 27, 1956
Cavalcade of America, episode Postmark: Danger, originally aired December 27, 1955
Crossroads, episode The Unholy Trio, originally aired October 21, 1955
Kings Row, episode Lady in Fear, originally aired September 13, 1955
The Lone Ranger, episode Counterfeit Redskins, originally aired September 1, 1955
Lux Video Theatre, episode Eight Iron Men, originally aired May 12, 1955
City Detective, episode Why Should the Beautiful Die?, originally aired October 26, 1954
Adventures of Superman, episode The Runaway Robot, originally aired January 9, 1953
Fireside Theatre, episode Man Without a Country, originally aired May 30, 1950

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Watch Russell Johnson's 1957 sci-fi film Attack of the Crab Monsters

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