The Professor, Hazel and the Rest: Next on TVC

We’ll remember the life and career of actor Russell Johnson on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, Friday at 7pm ET and PT on Share-a-Vision Radio.

A decorated World War II pilot, whose many medals included the Purple Heart, Russell Johnson used his G.I. bill to study acting at the Actors Lab in Hollywood following his discharge from the Air Force in 1945. Seven years later, his film and TV career began with appearances in Westerns and science fiction fare, including three films with his good friend Audie Murphy. Though usually cast as a heavy early in his career, Johnson starred as Marshal Gib Scott in the ABC Western series Black Saddle, plus he played heroic figures in two classic episodes of The Twilight Zone, “Execution” and “Back There.”

Today, of course, three generations of television viewers know Russell Johnson as Professor Roy Hinkley on Gilligan’s Island ― and though the actor believed that the show would not last beyond its initial 13-episode order, Gilligan’s Island went on to enjoy a nice three-year run on CBS television (1964-1967), and an endless run in syndication to this day in nearly 30 countries around the world.

We’ll remember the man behind “The Professor” along with Russell’s daughter Kimberly Johnson. Kimberly will share some memories of her dad, plus she’ll talk about his favorite episodes, her favorite episodes, and her dad’s take on the whole Gilligan’s Island pop culture phenomenon.

Also joining us this week will be our friend Bill Funt. The son of Candid Camera originator Allen Funt, Bill first came to know Kimberly and other Gilligan’s Island personnel (including series creator Sherwood Schwartz) as part of an effort to bring the three Gilligan TV-movies from the late 1970s to DVD.

Continuing the “family affair” thread for this week’s program… Our first hour will feature Greg Ehrbar’s interview with Peter Key, the son of Ted Key, the writer/cartoonist whose popular Hazel cartoons for The Saturday Evening Post served as the basis for the long-running comedy series Hazel (CBS, 1961-1966) starring Shirley Booth. If creating Hazel were the only thing that Ted Key did in his career, that would be enough. But he also went to create the characters and format for what eventually became Mr. Peabody and Sherman, as well write three successful comedy movies for Disney, including The $1,000,000 Duck.

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