Jim Backus

Biography

Date of Birth 25 February 1913, Cleveland, Ohio, USA Date of Death 3 July 1989, Los Angeles, California, USA (pneumonia) Birth Name James Gilmore Backus Height 5' 10" (1.78 m) Mini Biography Jim Backus was one of the few actors to do it all: radio, Broadway, movies, television and cartoons. After attending prep school in his native Cleveland, Backus enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, to ply his trade. While waiting for parts, he did radio and became friends with such future notables as Garson Kanin and Keenan Wynn. Backus stuck it out and soon was doing motion pictures in addition to radio. He was typecast in roles as "rich types" but broke the mold when he portrayed James Dean's father in the classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955). With his career in full swing, Backus also tackled two roles that he would be best known for, Mr. Magoo in cartoons and Thurston Howell III, in "Gilligan's Island" (1964). After the show's run ended, he continued doing guest spots on television and movies, before passing away on July 3, 1989. IMDb Mini Biography By: Ken Severson Spouse Henny Backus (14 January 1943 - 3 July 1989) (his death) Trivia Interred at Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California, USA, Section D, #203. One of his teachers in grade school was Margaret Hamilton, who would later play Miss Gulch/The Wicked Witch, in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Attended the Kentucky Military Institute. One of his classmates was future fellow actor Victor Mature. Used to work as a radio announcer in New York City. When Backus was doing radio plays, one of his characters "Hubert Updyke III" would become the basis for "Thurston Howell III" in "Gilligan's Island" (1964). Avid golfer. Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 34-35. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387 He was once a roommate of Martin Gabel. He not only played Thurston Howell III, he also portrayed a man who impersonates Thurston for criminal gain (the man later falls off a ship while drinking wine from a lady's slipper!). He reached the US Top 40 Pop charts for a couple of weeks in 1958 with his novelty recording, 'Delicious!' on Jubilee Records featuring instrumental backing from Appleknocker And His Group. The female part was comedienne Phylis Diller. It was basically the two of them taking a drink of champagne and exclaiming "delicious!" As the record progresses they get drunker and giddier, slurring the word and laughing hysterically. He provided the voice of Wally the Bird on the Western Airlines ads of the 1950s. His one-liner was simply "Western Airlines, the O-O-ONLY way to fly." He repeated this line in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963). Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 43-45. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999. Was the first choice to play Abner Kravitz in "Bewitched" (1964), but turned it down, as he was already working on "Gilligan's Island" (1964). Suffered from Parkinson's disease in later years and had to be carried into "Gilligan's Island" creator Sherwood Schwartz's 70th-birthday party in 1987 because he couldn't manage the steps into Schwartz's house. In November, 1957, Eva Gabor was his landlady - he sublet her New York City apartment.

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Birth Name

James Gilmore Backus

Birth Place

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Birth Date

2/25/1913

Death Date

7/3/1989
Known For
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Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge / Mr. Magoo (voice)

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Rescue From Gilligans Island

Thurston Howell III

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The Humpbacked Horse

The Tsar (voice)

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Now You See Him, Now You Don't

Timothy Forsythe

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Zotz

Horatio Kellgore

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The Pied Piper of Hamelin

King's Emissary

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Macabre

Jim Tyloe

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Hello Down There

T.R. Hollister

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Los Angeles Plays Itself

Frank Stark in Rebel Without A Cause (archive footage) (uncredited)

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The Girl Most Likely To . . .

Prof. David Tilson

Starring In
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The Gilligan Manifesto

Thurston Howell III (archive footage)

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Los Angeles Plays Itself

Frank Stark in Rebel Without A Cause (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Surviving Gilligan's Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Three Hour Tour in History

Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Slapstick

President of the U.S.

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C.H.O.M.P.S.

Mr. Gibbs

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Angels' Brigade

Cmdr. Lindsey March

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Good Guys Wear Black

Doorman

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Rescue From Gilligans Island

Thurston Howell III

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Pete's Dragon

The Mayor

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The Humpbacked Horse

The Tsar (voice)

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Friday Foster

Enos Griffith

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Crazy Mama

Mr. Albertson

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The Girl Most Likely To . . .

Prof. David Tilson

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Now You See Him, Now You Don't

Timothy Forsythe

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Mooch Goes to Hollywood

Himself

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Myra Breckinridge

Doctor

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Hello Down There

T.R. Hollister

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Wake Me When the War Is Over

Colonel

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Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?

Tru-Blue Lou

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Don't Make Waves

Himself (uncredited)

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Hurry Sundow

Carter Sillens

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Fluffy

Sergeant

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Billie

Howard G. Carol

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Advance to the Rear

Gen. Willoughby

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Sunday in New York

Chief Pilot Drysdale

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It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Tyler Fitzgerald

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A Child Is Waiting

Hot Dog Vendor (uncredited)

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Critic's Choice

Dr. William Von Hagedorn

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The Wheeler Dealers

Bullard Bear

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My Six Loves

Sheriff

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Johnny Cool

Louis Murphy

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Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge / Mr. Magoo (voice)

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The Wonderful World of the Brother's Grimm

The King ('The Dancing Princess')

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Horizontal Lieutenant

Cmdr. Jeremiah Hammerslag

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Zotz

Horatio Kellgore

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Sexy!

Peter Bowers

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The Errand Boy

Mr. Arbutt (uncredited) (voice)

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Ice Palace

Dave Husack

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1001 Arabian Nights

Uncle Abdul Azziz Magoo (voice)

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The Wild and the Innocent

Cecil Forbes

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Immer die verflixten Frauen

Maxwell

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A Private's Affair

Jim Gordon

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The Big Operator

Cliff Heldon

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The High Cost of Loving

Paul Mason

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Macabre

Jim Tyloe

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The Pied Piper of Hamelin

King's Emissary

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Man of a Thousand Faces

Clarence Locan

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Top Secret Affair

Col. Homer W. Gooch

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The Opposite Sex

Psychiatrist

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The Naked Hills

Willis Haver

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Meet Me in Las Vegas

Tom Culdane

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Autumn Leaves

Mr. Magoo (archive sound) (uncredited)

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The Girl He Left Behind

Sgt. Hanna

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The Great Man

Nick Cellantano

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You Can't Run Away from It

Danker

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The Square Jungle

Pat Quaid

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Rebel Without a Cause

Frank Stark

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Francis in the Navy

Cmdr. E.T. Hutch

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Deep in My Heart

Ben Judson

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I Love Melvin

Mergo

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Don't bother to knock

Peter Jones

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Deadline U.S.A.

Jim Cleary

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Androcles and the Lion

Centurion

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Above and Beyond

Gen. Curtis E. LeMay

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Angel Face

Dist. Atty. Judson

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Pat and Mike

Charles Barry

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I Want You

Harvey Landrum

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M

The Mayor

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Iron Man

Max Watkins

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The Man with a Cloak

Flaherty

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I'll See You In My Dreams

Sam Harris

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Bright Victory

Bill Grayson

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His Kind of Woman!

Myron Winton

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Hollywood Story

Mitch Davis

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Ma and Pa Kettle Go To Town

Joseph 'Little Joe' Rogers

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The Killer That Stalked New York

Willie Dennis (uncredited)

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Emergency Wedding

Ed Hamley

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The Great Lover

Higgins

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Father Was a Fullback

Professor Sullivan (as James G. Backus)

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A Dangerous Profession

Police Lt. Nick Ferrone / Narrator

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Vida Fácil

Dr. Franklin (as James Backus)

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Baseball Bugs

Smoky the Genie (voice)

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Looney Tunes: Spotlight Collection, Vol. 2

Smoky the Genie (voice)

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