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:

Myron Winton: [after he and the other guests have viewed one of Mark Cardigan's films] Yes sir, I agree with those folks: that was one of the finest movies I've ever seen. They oughta' make 'em ALL like that. None of this nonsense about social matters. People don't go to the movies to see how miserable the world is - they go there to eat popcorn and be happy!
Mark Cardigan: [Addressing Mr. Krafft] What did you think of it?
Martin Krafft: [Dourly] It had a message no pigeon would carry.
Mark Cardigan: [Slightly amused, turning to Mr. Winton] At my studios, all messages are handled by Western Union.
Myron Winton: You know, you can't take his opinion on anything: he's an *intellectual.*
[Cardigan responds with a look of mild alarm]

Clarence Locan: Make it 1001 faces, Lon. This is one I've never seen before.

Jim Stark: I don't think I want anything, I'm nervous.
Frank Stark: My first day of school, I was so nervous, Mother made me eat so much, I couldn't swallow until recess.

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Jim Backus on the
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Jim Backus Facts
Interred at Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California, USA, Section D, #203.

He not only played Thurston Howell III in "Gilligan's Island" (1964), 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!).

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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