Attended the Kentucky Military Institute. One of his classmates was future fellow actor Victor Mature.
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
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!).
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).
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 was once a roommate of Martin Gabel.
In November, 1957, Eva Gabor was his landlady - he sublet her New York City apartment.
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).
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.
Used to work as a radio announcer in New York City.
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).
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).