Jan 16, 2014

Remembering The Professor & Reuben Kincad Upon Their Passing....

On occasion centerfieldmaz features special articles on classic pop culture (music or TV) from my days of growing up. Today we remember two actors from two legendary classic TV shows.

Russell David Johnson was born November 10, 1924 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. He was a graduate of Girard College, in Philadelphia, a private school for orphans. He served as a lieutenant in the Air Force during World War II winning a Purple Heart, as well as three other Medals & a Ribbon, for bravery.

After the war he attended acting school, met his first wife Kay Levey & became close friends with Audie Murphy. Early on in the fifties he appeared in Westerns & Sci Fi films such as; Law & Order (with Ronald Regan) Loan Shark (with George Raft) It Came From Outer Space (with Barbra Rush) & Attack of the Crab Monsters.

On television he appeared on legendary shows as a guest such as; Superman, the Californians, the Outer Limits, Black Saddle, Lassie, Iron side, Death Valley Days, Gun smoke, Newhart, as well as two episodes of the Twilight Zone. In season 9 of Dallas he appeared in several episodes as a Sheriff.

But it was his three year stint as the Professor on Gilligan's Island that he is most famous for. The show ran from 1964-1967, then continued on endlessly though today, becoming an all time classic through syndication. During the first season (in black & white) The Professor & Mary Ann were not in the opening credits nor mentioned in the theme song. They were referred to as " and the rest". They were put in both the theme song & on screen credits in season two (in color).

In his role as the professor (aka: Roy Hinkley) he was a high school science teacher from Ohio. The well versed professor had attended USC, UCLA, SMU & TCU with a list of various degrees. He had taken the "three hour tour" with a number of books & had planned to write a book about Ferns. His expertise was botany, but he ended up helping make life more livable for the castaways with his clever inventions. His most famous inventions were the different ways he developed to generate electricity, usually Gilligan on a bicycle & batteries made of bamboo.

In real life even he would joke how the Professor could make something out of nothing, except fix a hole in the boat. He was also the calmest most level headed castaway, usually talking sense into the other characters & restoring order from the usual zany chaos.
He never showed a lust for Ginger (actress Tina Louise) or Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) even though he had been teased by them at various times, as they tried to turn him on. In one episode where the Castaways made a Silent Movie, ha has a long kissing scene with Ginger.
In real life Russell Johnson was married three times & had two children; a son & daughter. His son died from AIDS in 1994 & Russell was a full time volunteer for  AIDS research.

On January 16th, 2014 at 520 AM Russell Johnson passed away at his home in Bainbridge, Washington, from Kidney failure, he was 89. Ginger & Mary Ann are the last two living survivors of the show. Actress Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) & he remained life long friends. After his death, she commented that her two favorite People were now gone.


Another passing of an actor from the classic TV era was the death of Dave Madden. Madden was born December 17, 1931 in Ontario Canada, then grew up in Huron Michigan & Haute Indiana after his father had died.

He enlisted in the Air Force & began entertaining, as a standup comic. He eventually landed in Los Angeles, getting a gig in Beverly Hills which led him to Frank Sinatra who recommended him to Ed Sullivan. He did The Sullivan Show, and later landed a part in Rowan & Martin's Laugh In from 1968-1969.

After that he landed his most famous part as Reuben Kincade, the bands manager in the Partridge Family. The show ran from September 1970 through March 1974 on Friday nights & has lived on in syndication ever since.

The show focused on a family of young siblings who convince their mother (a bank teller) played by Shirley Jones to join the band, as singer keyboard/piano player. The lead singer is eldest son: Keith Partridge played by teen idol; David Cassidy (Shirley Jones' real life step son).

Other family members included teenage sweetheart Susan Dey, Tracy (Suzanne Crough), Chris (Brian Foster) & the famous redheaded brother; Danny Bonaduce.

Danny finds Reuben as the bands manager who helps making their first song a top forty hit & get them gigs. Reuben & Danny would usually be bantering amongst each other making for some good comedy as Rubens dry humor mixed well with Danny's wit.  

Reuben was a bachelor guy, who had a soft place in his heart for the Partridge children, although they did get on his nerves at times. He & Shirley never had a romantic relationship. The show featured an endless list of famous stars who appeared as special guests. The family drove around in a multi colored 1957 Chevrolet Series 6800 Superior Bus. 

Off the screen, Madden became friendly with the entire cast through the rest of his life. He had a special relationship with Bonaduce, even having the boy stay with him during problem times in his family.

After Maddens passing Bonaduce tweeted: "Dave Madden was a great guy & like family to me. He taught me to drive a car when I was 10. One of many great memories. I'll truly miss him.

After the Partridge Family he appeared on episodes of Bewitched, Alice, Happy Days, Barney Miller, the Love Boat, Fantasy Island & his last role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

In real life he was married twice & had two children.
Madden passed away from complications of heart & kidney failure on January 16th, 2014 in Fruit Cove, Florida, he was 82.

long live classic sitcom television.................

No comments: