Theodore's World: Veteran U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II , Actor 'Gilligan's Island' Professor, actor Russell Johnson, dead at 89

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January 17, 2014

Veteran U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II , Actor 'Gilligan's Island' Professor, actor Russell Johnson, dead at 89

Veteran U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II , Actor 'Gilligan's Island' Professor, actor Russell Johnson, dead at 89

Military career

After high school, in the midst of World War II, Johnson joined the United States Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He flew 44 combat missions as a bombardier in B-25 Mitchell twin-engine medium bombers. While flying as a navigator in a B-25 with the 100th Bombardment Squadron, 42nd Bombardment Group, 13th Air Force, his plane and two other B-25s were shot down in the Philippines in March 1945 during a low level bombing and strafing run against Japanese targets. The planes were hit by intense flak and had to ditch in the waters off the port of Zamboanga. During the ditching, he broke both his ankles and the radioman next to him was killed. Johnson earned a Purple Heart for this mission. He was also awarded the Air Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three service stars, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one service star, and the World War II Victory Medal. He was honorably discharged with the rank of first lieutenant on November 22, 1945. He then joined the Army Reserve

He became a close friend of Audie Murphy and later appeared with him in three of his films, Column South and Tumbleweed in 1953 and Ride Clear of Diablo in 1954.

He was best known for playing the handsome Professor Roy Hinkley (usually referred to as "The Professor"), the very knowledgeable polymath who could build all sorts of inventions out of the most rudimentary materials available on the island, but, as Johnson himself pointed out, could not fix the hole in the boat. Gilligan's Island aired from 1964 to 1967, but has been shown in reruns continuously ever since.

He died from kidney failure at his home in Bainbridge Island, Washington, on January 16, 2014, at the age of 89

Wild Thing's comment............

It is always interesting to read about the actors of the past and how most of them are Veterans. So many actors now are not and I think it is a shame.

Posted by Wild Thing at January 17, 2014 12:55 AM


During WWII, many actors put their careers on hold to serve in the military in some form or another. Even those who didn't join, served by visiting the troops overseas with USO Shows. I don't know of any celebrities today that put their careers on hold to serve except for Pat Tillman. But, quite a few did visit the troops overseas.

Posted by: bobf at January 17, 2014 07:34 AM

Rocky Blier and Roger Staubach were two future NFLers that served in Vietnam. Roger was fulfilling his USNA contract and Rocky was drafted. Rocky was severely wounded but recovered to go on to a very illustrious career with the Steelers. Roger became a Hall of Famer with the Cowboys. Another Dallas Cowboy, can't think of his name, who was an outstanding defensive player flew Air Force A-10s in the First Gulf War. As for hollywood celebrities I can't think of any since the Korean War.

Posted by: TomR,armed in Texas at January 17, 2014 11:38 AM