‘Gilligan’s Island’: The Professor Had a Hilarious Backstory for Trip on S.S. Minnow

by Joe Rutland

Watching “Gilligan’s Island” for so many years, one character whose sharp mind helped a lot was The Professor. Why was he on the S.S. Minnow?

As you may or may not know, the S.S. Minnow originally left the safe harbor for a simple three-hour tour. That’s it. Just three hours out on the water, helmed by Gilligan and the Skipper. Five people jumped on the boat for a leisurely day out.

Then a massive storm hit, throwing the Minnow off-course and landing it miles away from shore and on an island. Among the people who were on that boat, it appears that The Professor really wanted to use that time for a purpose.

The Professor Rests Before Writing On ‘Gilligan’s Island’

So, the backstory around how The Professor ends up on the boat is that he wants to relax before writing a book called “Fun with Ferns.”

Obviously, the book plans went out the door for a stretch. Gilligan, Skipper, Mary Ann, Ginger, and Mr. and Mrs. Howell looked to The Professor for answers.

If anyone knew how to make a water-logged radio come back to life, then it was The Professor. He had a lot of knowledge, using items on the island from coconuts to bamboo in different ways.

He always was thinking about how to produce power and energy for the seven stranded castaways to use. The Professor was one sharp dude.

Two Different Actors Filled The Professor Role On Show

Now that we’ve covered how The Professor ended up on the S.S. Minnow, let’s spend a few minutes talking about the actors who played him.

You’re saying, “But wait, I only remember one guy as The Professor.” Yes, in the series itself, actor Russell Johnson played that role. Johnson would play it in post-TV series shows and specials over the years, too.

In the pilot, though, actor John Gabriel portrayed The Professor on “Gilligan’s Island.” After shooting the pilot, executive producer Sherwood Schwartz thought Gabriel looked too young to be someone with so many academic accolades to his name.

So Gabriel was out and Johnson was in. That’s how it works in TV land, friends.

In conclusion, here’s one final trivia tidbit about The Professor. His name was Roy Hinkley, a high school science teacher. He used his science background all the time and it helped them stay alive for three seasons on CBS.