Classic Movie Hub (CMH)

Job Actor
Years active 1937-1989
Known for Grouchy growlers, over-hearty businessmen; Mr. Magoo, Thurston Howell III on TV's Gilligan's Island
Top Roles Sam Harris, Clarence Locan, Charles Barry, Professor 'Sully' Sullivan, Col. Homer W. Gooch
Top GenresComedy, Drama, Romance, Musical, Crime, Thriller/Suspense
Top TopicsRomance (Comic), World War II, True Story (based on)
Top Collaborators (Producer), (Director), , (Producer)
Shares birthday with Zeppo Marx, George Harrison, Jane Nigh  see more..

Jim Backus Overview:

Legendary character actor, Jim Backus, was born James Gilmore Backus on Feb 25, 1913 in Cleveland, OH. Backus appeared in over 240 film and TV roles -- including LOTs of Mr. Magoo shorts (as Mr. Magoo of course!), and playing multi-millionaire Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island (1964-1967), and Judge Bradley Stevens (Joan's husband) on TV's I Married Joan opposite Joan Davis (1952-1955). He also starred as Mike O'Toole in his own show aptly called The Jim Backus Show (1960-1961). His best known films include Rebel Without a Cause (as Frank Stark, James Dean's dad), It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (as Tyler Fitzgerald) and Man of a Thousand Faces (as Clarence Locan). Backus died at the age of 76 on Jul 3, 1989 in Los Angeles, CA .


Comedy actor Jim Backus was usually seen either beaming or scowling as there were few half-measures with his characters. After military service in World War II, he became a familiar part of the cinema for 20 years playing grouchy growlers and over-hearty businessmen. He was also popular as the long-suffering husband of Joan Davis in TV's I Married Joan, and as the rasping tones of cartoonland's short-sighted Mr. Magoo.

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Illustrated Dictionary of Film Character Actors).



He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Television. Backus was never nominated for an Academy Award.

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Jim Backus Quotes:

Mergo: [About Melvin] The last I saw him, he was going to throw himself off a tall building.
Judy: Oh no!
Mergo: Oh, he didn't do it. I'd 've heard from his first.
Judy: How do you know?
Mergo: He promised me the shot!

Genie: Three cheers and a tiger for you!

Tyler Fitzgerald: You know what I need? I need a drink. There's some ice and stuff back there. Why don't you make us all some old fashioneds?
Ding Bell: "Old Fashions"? Do you think you oughta drink while you're flying?
Tyler Fitzgerald: Well stop kidding, will ya, and make us some drinks! You just press the button back there marked "booze". It's the only way to fly!

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Jim Backus on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame

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Jim Backus Facts
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).

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).

Suffered from Parkinson's disease in later years and had to be carried into "Gilligan's Island" (1964) creator Sherwood Schwartz's 70th-birthday party in 1987 because he couldn't manage the steps into Schwartz's house.

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