Russell Johnson

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour Archive interview, Russell Johnson (1924-2014) talks about his early years learning his craft at the Actors Lab in Hollywood. He describes his work in movies ("It Came From Outer Space") and on live television in the 1950s, and recalls his work as a guest star on television series such as, You Are There, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Johnson describes his first series as a regular, Black Saddle, and details the role for which he is most identified, as "The Professor" on Gilligan's Island. Karen Herman conducted the interview on February 8, 2004 in Glendale, CA.

"I've had people in the ensuing years say to me, 'if they did 'Gilligan's Island' today you'd all be living in the same tent.' It's true. That innocence was kept and it worked."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Russell Johnson on being cast on Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on his fellow cast members on Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on advice to aspiring actors
Russell Johnson on appearing on The Twilight Zone in the teleplay "The Execution"
Russell Johnson on being questioned about his politics because of his name
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and developing an interest in acting; on studying at the Actors Lab; on his first television and film roles and his early memories of TV
On acting in early television on anthology series Lux Theatre, Matinee Theater, and You Are There
On the Hollywood Blacklist
On acting in early TV Westerns

Chapter 2

On appearing in early television Westerns as the "heavy"; on being cast as a regular on the Western series Black Saddle; on guest appearances
On guest appearances on The Lone Range r, The Twilight Zone  and other TV shows; on appearing in the 3-D movie "It Came From Outer Space"
On being cast on Gilligan's Island; on working with Sherwood Schwartz and playing "The Professor" on the series

Chapter 3

On fan reactions and critics' reactions to Gilligan's Island; on the end of the series
On his post-Gilligan's Island work, including roles on Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, TV movies of Gilligan's Island, and voiceover work

Chapter 4

On some of the series on which he guest-starred, including Lassie and Dynasty; on his work in the film "The Greatest Story Ever Told"
On his career highlights; on his advice to aspiring actors; on how he would like to be remembered; on his service in World War II
Shows

ALF

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Russell Johnson on appearing as "The Professor" on shows other than Gilligan's Island

Bosom Buddies

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Russell Johnson on guest-starring on Bosom Buddies

Dynasty

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Russell Johnson on appearing on Dynasty

FBI, The

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Russell Johnson on appearing with Harrison Ford on The F.B.I.

Gilligan's Island

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Russell Johnson on co-starring as "The Professor" on Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on the theme song to Gilligan's Island and being part of "the rest"
Russell Johnson on interacting with network executives on Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on his favorite episodes (ones with dream sequences) of Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on working with guest stars on Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on the critics' reactions to Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on reactions from fans of Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on questions he gets asked from people about Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on the cancellation of Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on the TV movies of Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on appearing as "The Professor" on shows other than Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on working with animals on Gilligan's Island

Irwin Shaw's Rich Man, Poor Man

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Russell Johnson on appearing on Rich Man, Poor Man

Lassie

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Russell Johnson briefly on difficulties working with animals when guesting on a Lassie episode

Lou Grant

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Russell Johnson on guest-starring on Lou Grant

NBC Matinee Theater

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Russell Johnson on his early appearances on Matinee Theater

Newhart

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Russell Johnson on appearing on Newhart

Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law

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Russell Johnson on his appearances as the district attorney on Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law

Police Story

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Russell Johnson on guest-starring on Police Story

Rescue 8

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Russell Johnson on appearing on Rescue 8

Roseanne

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Russell Johnson on appearing as "The Professor" on shows other than Gilligan's Island

Santa Barbara

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Russell Johnson on appearing on Santa Barbara

You Are There

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Russell Johnson on his work on You Are There
Topics

Advice

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Russell Johnson on advice to aspiring actors

Anthology Drama

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Russell Johnson on enjoying working in live television

Characters & Catchphrases

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Russell Johnson on "The Professor" being asexual on Gilligan's Island

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Russell Johnson on his mentor, Paul Hendry
Russell Johnson on his mentor, Paul Hendry

Criticism of TV

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Russell Johnson on the critics' reactions to Gilligan's Island

Hollywood Blacklist

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Russell Johnson on being questioned about his politics because of his name

Pivotal Career Moments

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Russell Johnson on his mentor, Paul Hendry

Pop Culture

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Russell Johnson on "The Professor" being asexual on Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on the theme song to Gilligan's Island and being part of "the rest"

TV Theme Songs

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Russell Johnson on the theme song to Gilligan's Island and being part of "the rest"

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Russell Johnson on enjoying working in live television

Television Industry

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Russell Johnson on being questioned about his politics because of his name
Russell Johnson on the critics' reactions to Gilligan's Island
Russell Johnson on advice to aspiring actors
Professions

Actor

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Russell Johnson on studying at the Actors Lab
Russell Johnson on the challenges of working in live television
Russell Johnson on advice to aspiring actors
Russell Johnson on his acting style and how he prepares for roles

Performers

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Russell Johnson on studying at the Actors Lab
Russell Johnson on the challenges of working in live television
Russell Johnson on advice to aspiring actors
Russell Johnson on his acting style and how he prepares for roles
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Russell Johnson on enjoying working in live television

Comedy Series

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On being cast on Gilligan's Island; on working with Sherwood Schwartz and playing "The Professor" on the series
Russell Johnson on co-starring on Gilligan's Island

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Russell Johnson on the TV movies of Gilligan's Island

Western Series

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Russell Johnson on appearing in early television Westerns as the "heavy"
People

Jim Backus

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Russell Johnson on his fellow cast members on Gilligan's Island - Jim Backus

Roger Corman

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Russell Johnson on his work in the film "Attack of the Crab Monsters" for Roger Corman

Bob Denver

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Russell Johnson on his fellow cast members on Gilligan's Island - Bob Denver

Alan Hale, Jr.

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Russell Johnson on his fellow cast members on Gilligan's Island - Alan Hale, Jr.

Tom Hanks

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Russell Johnson on guest-starring on Bosom Buddies

Paul Henreid

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Russell Johnson on his mentor, Paul Hendry

Albert McCleery

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Russell Johnson on his early appearances on Matinee Theater

Natalie Schafer

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Russell Johnson on his fellow cast members on Gilligan's Island - Natalie Schafer

Sherwood Schwartz

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Russell Johnson on working with Sherwood Schwartz on Gilligan's Island

Rod Serling

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Russell Johnson on meeting Rod Serling while appearing on The Twilight Zone

Tom Shales

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Russell Johnson on the critics' reactions to Gilligan's Island

George Stevens

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Russell Johnson on his work in the film "The Greatest Story Ever Told"

Ethel Winant

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Russell Johnson on working with casting director Ethel Winant

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