Birthplace: Ashley, PA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Professor on Gilligan’s Island
Military service: US Army Air Corps (WWII, 1942-45); US Air Force Reserve (1945-57, 1st Lt.)
Russell Johnson received poor grades in his youth, and was held back a year in school, but by adolescence he became motivated, began to study and take his education seriously, and by high school he was a member of the National Honor Society. Johnson fought with the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. He flew 44 combat missions as a crewman in B-24 Liberator bombers, and won seven decorations, including a Purple Heart for injuries sustained when his plane was shot down over the Philippines. When the war was over he joined the reserves, and used the GI Bill to fund his acting studies. By the 1960s, he was a well-established character actor whose credits include the science fiction classics This Island Earth and It Came From Outer Space.
Gilligan’s Island ran only three seasons, but left its cast so closely identified with their roles it was hard for Russell to find work. Russell has written his memoirs of the show, a book titled Here on Gilligan’s Isle. His son David ran the AIDS program for Los Angeles until his death of AIDS in 1994. Johnson has been a full-time volunteer for AIDS research fundraising since his son was diagnosed and in the years since his death.
Wife: Kay Cousins Johnson (actress, writer, d. 20-Jan-1980)
Son: David (AIDS program coordinator for the city of Los Angeles, d. 1994 AIDS)
Daughter: Kimberly Johnson (actress)
Wife: Constance Dane (actress)
Son: Courtney (stepson, from Dane’s first marriage)
Santa Barbara Roger Wainwright (1991)