76 (passed away Jul. 3rd, 1989)
Feb. 25th, 1913
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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 (I)'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.
- Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 43-45. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
- Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 34-35. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
- One of his teachers in grade school was 'Margaret Hamilton' (qv), who would later play Miss Gulch/The Wicked Witch, in _The Wizard of Oz (1939)_ (qv).
- 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.
- 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)_ (qv).
- Was the first choice to play Abner Kravitz in _"Bewitched" (1964)_ (qv), but turned it down, as he was already working on _"Gilligan's Island" (1964)_ (qv).
- He was once a roommate of 'Martin Gabel' (qv).
- Attended the Kentucky Military Institute. One of his classmates was future fellow actor 'Victor Mature' (qv).
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