The death of his father when he was eight years old and his placement in a boarding school for disadvantaged boys changed future character actor Russell Johnson from an aimless Pennsylvania youth to a purpose-driven young adult. Following his decorated military service during World War II, Johnson studied acting in Hollywood on the GI Bill, winning a contract with Universal Studios. After a decade of work on stage and television and in such features as "It Came From Outer Space" (1953) and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965), Johnson signed on for the CBS sitcom "Gilligan's Island" (1964-67) with little ambition beyond supporting his family; the unparalleled success of the series in both its three-year run and in syndication made a pop culture figurehead of Johnson's "The Professor," whose indefatigable gadget-making was a low tech tonic for the high anxiety of the Cold War. Yet instant recognition came at a price for Johnson, who found himself adrift after the cancellation of his series in 1967, struggling to reestablish himself as a dramatic actor even as he was enshrined for playing one of the most beloved television characters of all time. Inevitably, his obituaries following his 2014 death led with his most iconic role.