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Russell Johnson was born in Ashley, Pennsylvania in 1924. He attended Girard College,
a private boarding school in Philadelphia, PA. When Russell graduated from high
school in 1942 World
War II was in full swing. Johnson joined the United States Army
Air Forces as an aviation cadet.
During his time in the Army he flew 44 combat
missions as a bombardier and commanded the B-25 Mitchell bomber.
His plane was
shot down over the Philippines in March of 1945. Johnson’s craft was severely
damaged during a bombing run against Japanese targets and made a crash landing at the
port of Zamboanga in the Philippines.
Johnson broke both his ankles during the crash,
but was rescued and taken to U.S. territory. He
earned the Purple Heart and was also
awarded the Air Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal,
the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one service star, and the World War II Victory
He was honorably discharged with the rank of 1st Lieutenant on November 22, 1945.
Johnson began his acting career in 1952. HIs early roles were primarily in
westerns and science fiction.
He starred in It Came from Outer Space (1953), This
Island Earth (1955), and Attack
of the Crab Monsters (1956). Johnson appeared in two
famous episodes of the original Twilight
Zone. He is best known for playing Roy
Hinkley (The Professor) on the television show Gilligan’s
Island. His character could
build all sorts of inventions out of the most unusual materials available
on the island.
Gilligan's Island aired from 1964 to 1967, but has been shown in reruns ever since.