Russell Johnson, the Professor from Gilligan's Island, Dead at 89
updated 01/16/2014 AT 04:15 PM EST
•originally published 01/16/2014 AT 03:45 PM EST
The actor died of kidney failure Thursday at his home in Washington, surrounded by his wife Constance Dane and daughter Kim Johnson.
"He died at home, peaceful, in his sleep at 5:21 a.m. today," Dane told ABC News. "[He was] a very brave guy who knew what he wanted, and he wanted to be at home."
His death came quickly, says his agent Michael Eisentstadt.
"I spoke to him right before the holidays and he did an autograph job," says Eisentstadt. "He had just done that and he was fine."
Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on the show, posted a picture of herself, Johnson and Bob Denver, who played Gillian and died in 2005, to Facebook to express her grief.
"My 2 favorite people are now gone. The Professor [passed] away this morning. My heart is broken."
Johnson was born in Pennsylvania and joined the United States Army Air Forces after high school. He flew combat missions in World War II prior to pursuing an acting career. He appeared in several films and television shows throughout the 50s and early 60s, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone, before landing the role on Gilligan's Island in 1964.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the hit show about seven men and women stranded together on an island after their ship, the S.S. Minnow, wrecks during a storm.
Johnson continued to make appearances on television shows throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, including roles on Lassie, Gunsmoke, The Jeffersons and Dynasty.
Reporting by MONICA RIZZO