R.I.P. - Russell Johnson, the "Professor" from Gilligan's Island

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Neroon, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Whenever a cast member from "Gilligan" dies, I'm reminded of a cartoon I saw when Alan (The Skipper) Hale Jr. died.

    He's at the "pearly gates" and he says, "I played the skipper on Gilligan's Island." And St. Peter says, "We know, but we're letting you in anyway."

    Rip, Mr. Johnson.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't think Gilligan's Island deserves the scorn it gets, certainly not in an era where popular entertainment is dominated by degrading "reality" shows and sharknadoes. It was a fun, charming, imaginative show, lowbrow in some ways but surprisingly clever in others.

    I think the problem is that when it started out, it was a pretty lousy show, and the critics judged it accordingly and moved on. So by the time it got substantially better, they weren't paying attention anymore. But it's stood the test of time better than a lot of its contemporaries.
     
  3. Dark Gilligan

    Dark Gilligan Writer Fleet Captain

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    I remember an interview Johnson did a few years back. He said Alan Hale was a sweetheart, always smiling, always slapping you on the back with a hearty laugh. Jim Bacchus would tell dirty jokes on set, a new one everyday. And Bobby Denver (as everyone called him) took his role as series star very seriously, going through every script to make sure his fellows were given equal screen time and material.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014
  4. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    Sort of the opposite of what you hear about many series leads.

    The Professor and Mary Ann were my favorite castaways.

    RIP Mr. Johnson.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014
  5. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    Agree, RIP Russell Johnson. :weep:
     
  6. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Mine too, the first season "and the rest" thing made them sort of underdogs, to me. And I believe Johnson and Dawn Wells were the closest friends to each other among the cast.

    It was always fun to see "The Professor" in something else such as Gunsmoke or Wagon Train, it seemed like he was usually a bad guy before GI. Just recently I saw him as WW2 Admiral King in the movie MacArthur; with his head of hair he looked nothing like the real person, but it was just nice to see him.

    Thanks and RIP, Mr. Johnson.
     
  7. Dark Gilligan

    Dark Gilligan Writer Fleet Captain

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    Interesting history: in the original unaired pilot, the Professor was not an educator at all. He was a writer of travel books. "Professor" was simply a nickname he'd been given because he was well-read and had researched a great many subjects.

    The Howell's were a well-to-do couple, but hardly the multi-millionaires they were later portrayed to be. Ginger was a secretary, and Mary Ann a store clerk. Gilligan himself was a Navy cook who was hired on the spot because the Skipper's real first mate was sick and couldn't make the trip. All of that changed, of course, when the pilot was scrapped and new actors were hired, retooling the characters into the ones we know today.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You've apparently been misinformed about a few things. According to the pilot's rather dreadful theme song, the two younger women were both secretaries (Ginger and Bunny, played by Kit Smythe and Nancy McCarthy) and the Professor (John Gabriel) was a high-school teacher. As far as I know or can find out, Gilligan was never meant to be anything but the character we know. He, the Skipper, and the Howells were the same in the pilot as they were in the series. We know this because the majority of the pilot's footage was incorporated into "Two on a Raft" (the first aired episode) and "Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Talk" (the Christmas episode that flashed back to the first day on the island). And note that the theme song clearly refers to the Howells as millionaires.
     
  9. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    RIP Mr Johnson, thanks for all the fun. Now, it's up to God to decide the great question of Ginger or Maryann.
     
  10. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Yeah, as I understood it "The Professor" was more of a nick-name they gave him since he was so learned but not an actual title he earned (i.e. he wasn't an educator in a college or university) though he did hold degrees and doctorates.
     
  11. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Another fun fact about this show: Gilligan does have a first name (Willy), although it was only ever revealed in Sherwood Schwartz's original treatment for the show and (unlike Columbo's first name, Frank, which is visible on his police ID) never made it on air.
     
  12. Dark Gilligan

    Dark Gilligan Writer Fleet Captain

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    Actually, Christopher, I'm not misinformed. I did err in referencing the unaired pilot, but the character descriptions are genuine. They're from the original Gilligan's Island treatment. The characters had changed after this first iteration and were on their second go-around when the pilot was filmed, as you stated above. The characters changed again, iteration three, into how we know them today.

    There is a series of shorts called Gilligan's Island: Before the Three Hour Tour which detail the following:

    The Professor was originally a writer.
    The Howells were not millionaires.
    Ginger was a secretary, and Bunny was a store clerk.
    Gilligan was a Navy cook who knew nothing about the sea. He lied about his background to get the job aboard the Minnow, as the Skipper's regular first mate had crapped out.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't think the Professor's backstory was clearly enough developed to allow any certainty on that point. Certainly in Rescue from Gilligan's Island he was treated as a full professor teaching at a university, although it's possible that could've been an honorary position resulting from his fame as a noted castaway/survivor.
     
  14. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    In development the character went from writer, to hign school teacher with professor as a nickname to a full professor in the final production on screen.
    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLU88lxsDJk[/yt]
     
  15. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    From Episode #1, "Two on a Raft":

    I've confirmed that bit of dialog at least, because coincidentally, it aired on MeTV this week on Wednesday, the night before Johnson died! It's sitting right here on my DVR. :techman:
     
  16. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    ^^ Yup, I saw that.

    I agree. It was a well-written, 60s-style parable of people coming together. A blue-collar seaman, a Right-Wing industrialist, a liberal intellectual college professor, an upper-crust society woman, a mid-western farm girl, a Hollywood glamor queen, and a simple, naive innocent who saved the day as often as he screwed up. They represented a variety of backgrounds and social classes and they were always in conflict, but they loved each other and would come to each others' aid at the drop of a hat.

    He was also the one who pressured the producers behind the scenes to add Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells to the main credits, which they didn't even know for many years. Pretty much everyone on the show, except maybe Tina Louse, was a really nice person.

    This is interesting. Do you have any links to the original treatment?
     
  17. Dark Gilligan

    Dark Gilligan Writer Fleet Captain

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    The shorts can be found on You Tube. Do a quick search for Gilligan's Island - Before the Three Hour Tour. Each of the characters has one.
     
  18. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Found 'em. Thanks for the tip. :bolian:
     
  19. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What's more, it was an educated man who led the group. Imagine that in todays world when you hear things like "something called volcano monitoring"
    http://www.livescience.com/5334-gov-jindal-follow-volcano-monitoring.html

    If only we had kept the professor instead of Bobby Jindal...

    That gives me an idea for a Gilligan sequel involving Tea Party members trapped on an island. They don't believe the professor about typhoons and the island volcano, refuse to accept his vaccination, and suffer the consequences--oh, wait--it's called Congress.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, the Howells were part of the one percent. Although I guess on the island they would've been the 28.6 percent.