Russell Johnson, the actor best known as Professor Roy Hinkley on the seminal sitcom Gilligan’s Island, died of natural causes this morning, TMZ reports. He was 89.
“Russell was a true gentleman, a good father, a great friend, and ‘the rest,'” wrote his co-star Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) on Facebook, referencing the duo’s initial absence from the Gilligan’s theme song, where they were referred to as “the rest.” (Star Bob Denver later demanded their names be included.) “I love him and shall miss him,” Wells continued. “My heart goes out to [his wife] Connie and his daughter Kim. I love you.”
Johnson was already a seasoned actor when he landed the role of the Professor. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, he appeared in numerous westerns and sci-fi shows, including a stint on the series Black Saddle and two appearances on The Twilight Zone. After Gilligan’s Island ended its three-season run in 1967, Johnson spent the next two decades as a prolific character actor, appearing in mostly one-off turns on such shows as The Jeffersons and Dallas. He even reprised his role as the Professor in a 1982 episode of Alf.
Johnson retired from acting in the 1990s, though continued to make Gilligan’s Island-related appearances. “He was a gentleman, very kind,” Johnson’s agent, Mike Eisenstadt, told E! “He was very smart and very respectful. He was a nice, normal guy.”