Sunday, March 02, 2014

Farewell, Professor

In January, an important figure from my childhood died at the age of 89.

I'm speaking, of course, of Professor Roy Hinkley, B.A., B.S., M.A., Ph.D. He was a man who could keep a radio recharged for years with copper wiring and coconuts. A man whose knowledge spanned astronomy, physics, chemistry and a very specific knowledge of primitive tribes of the South Pacific. A man so identified with his title, The Professor, that if you do a Google image search for "The Professor" this picture is the first you'll see.

In real life, that's actor Russell Johnson who played the Professor on Gilligan's Island. From the New York Times obituary:
Russell David Johnson was born on Nov. 10, 1924, near Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the oldest of six children. His father died when Russell was not yet 10, and his mother sent him and two brothers to Girard College, then a school for poor orphan boys, in Philadelphia, where he finished high school. He served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, receiving a Purple Heart, and after his discharge studied on the G.I. Bill at the Actors’ Laboratory in Hollywood.
The Professor was my favorite character on one of my favorite shows. I identified with him more than any of the others and I recognized that this smart, level-headed and fair character was the true, behind-the-scenes, leader of the castaways. In my mind, along with Spock on Star Trek, he made being smart cool.

Thanks, Professor.

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