'Gilligan's Island' Star Russell Johnson Dies of Kidney Failure

Johnson played the Professor on the sitcom.

Jan. 16, 2014 -- Russell Johnson, the actor best known for playing the Professor on "Gilligan's Island," has died.

ABC News confirmed with the actor's wife, Constance, that the 89-year-old TV star died early this morning of kidney failure.

"He died at home, peaceful, in his sleep at 5:21 am today," she said. "[He was] a very brave guy who knew what he wanted, and he wanted to be at home."

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Originally from northeastern Pennsylvania, Johnson served in World War II before pursuing an acting career. He acted in several TV programs in the 1950s and '60s, including "The Adventures of Superman," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Twilight Zone." However, his most famous role came along in 1964: The Professor on "Gilligan's Island."

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

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Afterward, he appeared in several films and TV shows, including an episode of "Newhart" in which he was shown watching an episode of "Gilligan's Island."

Johnson, a Washington resident, leaves behind his wife and a daughter, Kim.

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