Two we lost today…And another one


(CNN/AP)The News with James Barcus is saddened to bring you the news of two actors who have passed away Thursday.

Russell Johnson, who became known to many fans as “The Professor” on “Gilligan’s Island” during the three-season run on CBS in the 1960’s and movie spinoffs, died of natural causes according to his agent, Mike Eisenstadt.  Johnson was 89.

Johnson attributed the long success in reruns to the show’s charm.  “Parents are happy to have their children watch it,” he said. “No one gets hurt.  No murders.  No car crashes.  Just good, plain, silly fun – that’s the charm.”

Dawn Wells and Tina Louise are the only two left from the series.

Johnson had also appeared in many television shows as a character actor, including “The Twilight Zone”, “Wagon Train”, “The Big Valley”, and more.  Johnson appeared on “My Two Dads”, “Dynasty”, and “Newhart”.  In recent years, Johnson did voiceover work for radio commercials in Seattle, ferrying from Bainbridge Island, Washington where he moved to in 1988.  It was there he wrote his memoir “Here on Gilligan’s Isle.”

Johnson is survived by his wife and daughter.  Johnson was married before to Kay Cousins, who passed away in 1980, and his son was a prominent Los Angeles AIDS activist, who also had AIDS and passed away in 1994.

Canadian Born Dave Madden, the father-figure and agent of “The Partridge Family” on the TV series, also passed away today.  He was 82.

Madden had been in a hospice center, according to his niece Mary Frances Miller.

Madden had been a positive influence on Danny Bonaduce, writing that Madden served as a surrogate father to him during filming.

Shirley Jones remarked that his character hated kids, but off camera, he loved them.

Madden also had recurring roles on “Alice” as a regular at Mel’s Diner.  He was a guest on “Bewitched”, “The Love Boat”, “Barney Miller”, “Happy Days”, and “Fantasy Island”.

He also wrote a book called “Reuben on Wry” in 2007.  He is survived by his wife, son, and daughter.

Also in to the newsroom is another passing.  The last of the original female Munchkins from the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz” has died.  Ruth Robinson Duccini was 95, and with her death Thursday, only one actor is left from the 124 Munchkins who originally graced the screen.  Her death was confirmed by author Stephen Cox, who wrote a book on the Munchkins called “The Munchkins of Oz”.  He stated that Duccini’s son made him aware of the death.  She also appeared in “Under the Rainbow” with Chevy Chase and Carrie Fisher.

The actor left from the Original 124 Munchkins is Jerry Maren, age 93, who portrayed a member of the Lollipop Guild.


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