‘Gilligan’s Island’: The Professor Actor Russell Johnson Starred in Western with Ronald Reagan, Dennis Weaver

by Thad Mitchell
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Humorous sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” remains a cultural icon to this very day, thanks in large part to actor Russell Johnson.

Johnson played Professor Roy Hinkley, most commonly known as “The Professor,” on the show’s ensemble cast. The Professor is one of the seven castaways on the show as they attempt to figure a plan that will return them to civilization. Along with actor Bob Denver, who plays the titular character “Gilligan,” Johnson’s sharp wit made the show a comedic hit.

Though it is the character he is most known for, The Professor is far from Johnson’s only starring role. He has also made appearances on “The Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits” among other shows. Russel Johnson also serves as a character actor in several movies over his career that spans over three decades.

He plays Marshall Gib Scott Western television series “Black Saddle.” The series was not long for the screen, going off the air after just two years and 44 episodes.

One of these defining roles came in 1952 with the hit western movie “Law and Order.” In the movie, he plays Jimmy Johnson, one of three brothers that the movie centers around. The character of Jimmy Johnson is described as a hot-head and quick to action when trouble arises.

Russell Johnson Stars Alongside Future President in Film

His character’s older brother, Frame Johnson, is played by then actor Ronald Reagan. The film also stars Dennis Weaver as Frank Durling, another character in the western film. Reagan, of course, would go on to serve as the 40th President of the United States.

In the movie, Reagan’s character Frame Johnson is a Marshall doling out his own brand of justice in Tombstone, Arizona. After catching the notorious criminal “The Durango Kid” Johnson comes in conflict with locals who want to lynch the kid.

Speaking about the movie and his relationship with the future president, Russell Johnson says he found Reagan easy to work with. While claiming to be on the “opposite end of the political spectrum” as Reagan, the two worked well together during filming.

Russell Johnson passed away in January 2014 in Bainbridge Island, Washington, due to kidney failure. He was 89-years-old at the time of his passing.

Outsider.com