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 It turns out that the advice provided in 1965 didn't hold true for a plane that was then 20 years out-of-date.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! 

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Runeshaper 8 months ago
Wow! That’s really cool 😎
JedFife 8 months ago
Does Gilligan have a last name?
MrsPhilHarris JedFife 8 months ago
Some say no but I’ve seen his first name as Willie.
Bapa1 8 months ago
I read his Auto-Biography some years ago. His military experience was interesting.
harlow1313 8 months ago
I particularly like his role on "The Big Valley," episode entitled "The Good Thieves." He plays a despicable character, and I think does it well. l
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