How Gilligan's Russell Johnson drew from his military experience
The Professor taught the crew about WWII-era planes!
Technical advisors are one of the most important positions in Hollywood. Without them, movies and the people that make them would just be pretending. Technical advisors help provide a level of specificity that makes each project more believable. They're the ones who, for example, make sure a Medieval movie doesn't feature anachronisms in the costumes and props.
The world of TV and movies is fantastical, and sometimes, the right technical direction can ground a story in reality.
Fans will doubtlessly remember Russell Johnson as Professor Roy Hinkley on Gilligan's Island. However, long before he and his crewmates were marooned, Johnson had a completely different career, and it was one that would end up making Gilligan a more believable show.
Prior to joining the cast of Gilligan's Island, Russell Johnson flew 46 missions in a B25 bomber during World War II. According to a 1965 article in The Wichita Beacon, Johnson was able to provide advice regarding realism on a TV episode.
Apparently, the episode in question featured a B25 bomber, and so the producers hired a few young Air Force officers to provide technical direction. It turns out that the advice provided in 1965 didn't hold true for a plane that was then 20 years out-of-date.
"They knew as much about a B25 bomber as a Nazi submarine captain," said Johnson. Luckily, he was there to steer the production back on track!