Jim Backus The Jim Backus Show 1962

Jim Backus from "The Jim Backus Show" (1962); photo from Wikimedia Commons.

James Gilmore Backus (February 25, 1913–July 3, 1989) was an American comic actor, best known as the voice of Quincy Magoo in the Mr. Magoo theatrical cartoons, and as Thurston Howell III on the CBS sitcom Gilligan's Island. For Hanna-Barbera, he played Mr. Gibbs in C.H.O.M.P.S.


Jim Backus was one of the few actors to do it all: radio, Broadway, movies, television and cartoons. After attending preparatory school in his hometown of Cleveland, Backus enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, to ply his trade.

While waiting for parts, Backus worked in radio and became friends with such future notables as Garson Kanin and Keenan Wynn. Backus stuck it out and soon was working in motion pictures in addition to radio. He was typecast in roles as "rich types" but broke the mold when he portrayed James Dean's father in the classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

With his career in full swing, Backus also tackled his two most famous roles, Mr. Magoo in animated cartoons and Thurston Howell III in Gilligan's Island (1964). After the series' run ended, he continued doing guest spots on television and movies, before passing away on July 3, 1989.

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