January 16 in Twilight Zone History: Remembering actor Russell Johnson ('Execution,' 'Back There')

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Jan 16, 2018

Today, January 16th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia remember actor Russell Johnson, who passed away on this day in 2014 at the age of 89.

Always dependable as a science fiction brainiac, Johnson starred in two TZ episodes. In "Execution," he's the scientist who inadvertently plucks a convicted murderer (Albert Salmi) from the gallows of the Old West and transports him to modern times – a time traveling experiment that goes incredibly awry.

Professor Manion (Russell Johnson) begins to realize that he plucked the wrong person out of the past in "Execution."

In the second season episode "Back There," Johnson is the time traveler himself – inexplicably finding himself back in Washington D.C. shortly before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. However, as all time travelers discover, there's never enough time to get the job done.

Trying to save Abraham Lincoln from assassination, time traveler Pete Corrigan (Russell Johnson) finds himself in odd company in "Back There."

Forever immortalized as Professor Roy Hinkley on Gilligan's Island, Johnson (1924-2014) was also featured in a number of 1950s science fiction films, including It Came From Outer Space, This Island Earth and The Space Children. Throw some scientific jargon his way and he always batted it out of the park.

So let's raise a tall glass of something bubbly in honor of a TZ great and the twisty time traveling path he carved in two classic episodes of our favorite show: The Twilight Zone.