Jim Backus

Jim Backus

76 (passed away Jul. 3rd, 1989)
Feb. 25th, 1913
Born in
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Jim Backus' Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Gilligan's Island TV Show
Gilligan's Island
The Bugs Bunny Show TV Show
The Bugs Bunny Show
The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show TV Show
The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show
Mr. Magoo TV Show
Mr. Magoo
The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour TV Show
The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour
Love, American Style TV Show
Love, American Style
The Hollywood Squares TV Show
The Hollywood Squares
What's New, Mr. Magoo? TV Show
What's New, Mr. Magoo?
To Tell The Truth (1956) TV Show
To Tell The Truth (1956)
I Married Joan TV Show
I Married Joan
Gilligan's Planet TV Show
Gilligan's Planet
The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo TV Show
The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo
The New Adventures of Gilligan TV Show
The New Adventures of Gilligan
McKeever & the Colonel TV Show
McKeever & the Colonel
Hollywood House TV Show
Hollywood House
Joe Forrester TV Show
Joe Forrester
Talent Scouts TV Show
Talent Scouts

Main Movie Roles

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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