25 of the most memorable TV teachers

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The Professor – Gilligan’s Island

As a Mary Ann myself, I always had a soft spot for the Professor. What’s not to love? He’s very handsome, a genius and an apparent expert on everything tropical or island-related. His resourcefulness is probably the only thing that kept those folks alive all those years.

Although his real name is rarely mentioned, The Professor is Ron Hinckley, a high school science teacher from Cleveland, Ohio. Once he gets to the island, he’s the appointed problem solver and diplomat. Not only is he building telephones from coconuts and vines, but he’s brokering peace among the other castaways and offering empathy for the hapless Gilligan.

In terms of implausibility, it does seem unlikely that the Professor would bring so many giant heavy books on a three-hour tour, but I guess it’s lucky for everyone that he did. With a background in science, his presence on the tour is for a botany expedition, and that accounts for his extensive knowledge about plant life and the flora of the island.

More interesting, however, is the underlying sexual tension he shares with the women. To me, Mary Ann is a better match, but that doesn’t stop Ginger from trying her hand at getting at the Professor. Cultural conventions of the time precluded any real romance, but if this show were shot today, there would be a lot more shipping for the show. However, because of the problem of the censors, he is depicted as completely asexual, and he states so explicitly to Ginger during one of her attempts to seduce him.

Catch some of the episodes of the classic on YouTube.