‘Gilligan’s Island’: ‘The Professor’ Actor Russell Johnson Had Reoccurring Role on ‘Dallas’

by Joe Rutland
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“Gilligan’s Island” star Russell Johnson happened to find himself a sweet role on CBS’s red-hot drama “Dallas” during its ninth season.

Johnson, who played “The Professor” on the CBS sitcom for all three seasons it aired, portrayed Sheriff Wyatt Mansfield. He would appear as Mansfield in several episodes that season, including “Twenty-Four Hours.”

But Johnson saw his role go away as producers sent the “Gilligan’s Island” star off the show.

Now it wasn’t anything personal between Johnson and “Dallas.” It just so happened that the ninth season would become the “dream season.” That’s the one where Bobby Ewing, played by Patrick Duffy, mysteriously reappeared in the season finale. See, Bobby had died in the eighth season and didn’t appear at all in the ninth. Pamela Ewing, played by Victoria Principal, actually saw Bobby in a dream.

So because of this “dream season” stuff, Johnson’s role was axed.

He had other TV credits than “Gilligan’s Island” and “Dallas” to his name. They included “The Invaders,” “Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law,” “Ironside,” and “Gunsmoke.”

Johnson died on Jan. 16, 2014, at 86 years old. He died from kidney failure in Bainbridge Island, Wash.

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Played In Western Movie With 2 Other Well-Known Actors

Johnson had some work in movies throughout his career. One picture that stands out is from 1952 with “Law and Order.”

The “Gilligan’s Island” star played Jimmy Johnson, a rather hot-headed character. One of his three brothers, Frame Johnson, was played by none other than Ronald Reagan. Obviously, a few years later Reagan would become the 40th President of the United States.

Dennis Weaver, who played Chester Goode on “Gunsmoke,” showed up as Frank Durling.

Frame Johnson is a U.S. Marshal keeping justice in its rightful place in Tombstone, Ariz. He caught “The Durango Kid,” but local folk wanted him lynched. A conflict arises and has to be dealt with in the movie.

Other movies in which Russell Johnson had roles included “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “This Island Earth,” “MacArthur,” and “Off the Wall.”

Johnson Served In U.S. Armed Forces During World War II

When World War II broke out, many actors found themselves becoming part of the U.S. Armed Forces. Johnson was no different.

The “Gilligan’s Island” star was shot down over the Solomon Islands. Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann during the show’s time on CBS, talked about him in an interview with Herbie J Pilato.

“He was the funniest person on the set, he had the greatest sense of humor,” Wells said. “But I did not know until the funeral, I knew he fought in World War II as a navigator.

“I knew he was shot down on the Solomon Islands,” she said. “[But] I did not know until the funeral he got a Purple Heart. He never mentioned it. He was wonderful.”

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