Russell Johnson: Dawn Wells Tina Louise Recall on ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Professor After Death

January 20, 2014 Updated: January 20, 2014

Dawn Wells and Tina Louise, the two surviving actors on “Gilligan’s Island,” fondly remembered late actor Russell Johnson last week, who played “The Professor” on the show.

Johnson died last week, according to media reports. He was 89.

Wells, who played Mary Ann Summers on the show, posted to her Facebook about Johnson as well as her memories on the show several days ago.

“Russell’s passing and your responses here on facebook are a reminder of how we touch each others lives and how special our moments are together,” she wrote. “I am moved by all your comments and apologize in advance for not responding to individual messages I am receiving during this time.”

She added: “This is a time of reflection for me. To acknowledge and celebrate the life of a dynamic person that was always full of life and a person of strong character and integrity.A kindred spirit. I smile thinking that he ended up living on an island himself.”

A day earlier, she wrote that Johnson was a “true gentleman, a good father, [and] a great friend,” adding: “I love him and shall miss him. My heart goes out to Connie and his daughter Kim.”

Louise, who played Ginger Grant on the show, also recalled working with Johnson.

“It was always fun to work,” she said, reported The Wall Street Journal. “It was a half-hour show, and it was fun for me playing my far-out part.”

Louise had fond memories of Johnson.

“He was lovely, a lovely person. We always had a lot of fun,” she added. “He is certainly in everybody’s heart. His work stands for itself.”

“Gilligan’s Island” ran from 1964 to 1967, but reruns of the show are still on TV.

Bob Denver, who played Gilligan, died in 2005.

AP update on Johnson’s death:

NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Russell Johnson, who became known to generations of TV fans as “The Professor,” the fix-it man who kept his fellow “Gilligan’s Island” castaways supplied with gadgets, has died. He was 89.

Johnson died Thursday morning at his home in Washington State of natural causes, said his agent, Mike Eisenstadt.

Johnson was a busy but little-known character actor when he was cast in the slapstick 1960s comedy about seven people marooned on an uncharted Pacific island.

He played high school science teacher Roy Hinkley, known to his fellow castaways as The Professor. There was seemingly nothing he couldn’t do when it came to building generators, short-wave radios and other contraptions from scraps of flotsam and jetsam he found on the island. But, as Russell would joke years later, the one thing The Professor never accomplished was figuring out how to patch the hole in the bottom of the S.S. Minnow so the group could get back to civilization.

During its three-season run on CBS, critics repeatedly lambasted the show as insipid. But after its cancellation in 1967, it found generations of new fans in reruns and reunion movies.

One of the most recent of the reunion films was 2001′s “Surviving Gilligan’s Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Three-Hour Tour in History,” in which other actors portrayed the original seven-member cast while Johnson and two other surviving cast members narrated and reminisced.

In a 2004 interview, Johnson analyzed the show’s lasting appeal.

“Parents are happy to have their children watch it,” he said. “No one gets hurt. No murders. No car crashes. Just good, plain, silly fun — that’s the charm.”

He admitted he had trouble finding work after “Gilligan’s Island,” having become typecast as the egg-headed professor. But he harbored no resentment for the show, and in later years he and other cast members, including Bob Denver, who had played the bumbling first mate Gilligan, often appeared together at fan conventions.

Johnson, Dawn Wells and Tina Louise were the last of the cast’s survivors. Wells played vacationing farm girl Mary Ann Summers and Louise was sexy movie star Ginger Grant. Besides Denver, the other stars were Alan Hale Jr. as Skipper Jonas Grumby and Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer as snooty millionaires Thurston and Lovey Howell.

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