Russell Johnson from Gilligan's Island wasn't ''psychologically equipped'' for Hollywood
The Professor couldn't deal with fame.
It takes a particular kind of person to be under constant public scrutiny. Celebrity has its benefits, but it also invites a lot of unwanted attention. While some deftly navigate the heights of stardom, many do not have the toolset for such a lifestyle.
One example of a star out of his depths is Russell Johnson. While his name may not be immediately recognizable, Johnson was famous in his day as Professor Roy Hinkley on Gilligan's Island. As The Professor, Johnson was the island's voice of reason. The other castaways were often presented as cartoonishly one-note, but The Professor grounded the comedy in something like real life.
Despite his later successes, Johnson had a humble upbringing in Ashley, Pennsylvania. His father died when Russell was only eight years old. After attending Girard College, a Philadelphia boarding school for poor, fatherless boys, Russell Johnson enlisted in the United States Air Force as an aviation cadet. Following his honorable discharge, Johnson used the G.I. Bill to pay for acting classes in Los Angeles.
Throughout the 1950s, Russell Johnson steadily built an impressive résumé, amassing tons of credits in both film and television. While he was featured in dozens of productions, none of them reached the levels of fame he'd have thrust upon him on Gilligan's Island.
His profile grew substantially after that disastrous "three-hour tour," and he only became more famous as the sitcom reran in syndication Russell Johnson was suddenly very recognizable to the public, but his background kept him humble. In 1966, he spoke with the Buffalo News about the phenomenon.
"I come from a large family, the oldest of six children and I took on a lot of that responsibility when I was young. I spent 10 years in an orphanage after my father died.
"Actually, I'm not psychologically equipped to be an actor. I don't like people looking at me. So I avoid public appearances and publicity. I wish I were better at such things."
While at first, the above quote may seem like false modesty, the sentiment is reflected in the way Johnson's career played out. In the wake of Gilligan's Island, there was no great attempt to capture more fame. Johnson worked in a handful of movies, and a few more TV shows, but mostly stayed out of the limelight.