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The Info List - Jim Backus


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JAMES GILMORE BACKUS (February 25, 1913 – July 3, 1989) was an American radio, television, film, and voice actor . Among his most famous roles were the voice of nearsighted cartoon character Mr. Magoo , the rich Hubert Updike III on the radio version of _The Alan Young Show _, Joan Davis ' character's husband (a domestic court judge) on TV's _ I Married Joan _, James Dean 's character's father in _Rebel Without a Cause _, and Thurston Howell III , on the 1960s sitcom _Gilligan\'s Island _. He also starred in his own show of one season, _ The Jim Backus Show _, also known as _Hot Off the Wire_.

An avid golfer, Backus made the 36-hole cut at the 1964 Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournament.

CONTENTS

* 1 Early life

* 2 Career

* 2.1 Acting * 2.2 Writing and recording * 2.3 Television commercials

* 3 Death * 4 Filmography * 5 References * 6 External links

EARLY LIFE

James Gilmore Backus was born February 25, 1913, in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Bratenahl, Ohio
Ohio
, a wealthy village surrounded by greater Cleveland. He was the son of Russell Gould Backus, a mechanical engineer , and Daisy Taylor (née Gilmore) Backus. Backus attended Shaw High School in East Cleveland, Ohio. Backus was expelled from the Kentucky Military Institute for riding a horse through the mess hall.

CAREER

ACTING

_ Virginia Brissac , Backus, Ann Doran , Edward Platt , and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause _

Backus was acting on radio as early as 1940, playing the role of millionaire aviator Dexter Hayes on _Society Girl_ on CBS
CBS
. He had an extensive career and worked steadily in Hollywood
Hollywood
over five decades, often portraying characters with an "upper-crust", New England-like air, such as Thurston Howell, III, in _Gilligan\'s Island _. He appeared in _ A Dangerous Profession _ (1949) (as well as narrating), _ Deadline – U.S.A. _ (1951), with Humphrey Bogart , _ Pat and Mike _ (1952), with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn , _Rebel Without a Cause_ (1955), _The Pied Piper of Hamelin _ (1957), and _It\'s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World _ (1963). He also made television appearances on _ The Beverly Hillbillies _ (1962).

Backus was the voice of the nearsighted cartoon character Mr. Magoo. Years later, when Backus was a frequent talk show guest, he would recount the time Marilyn Monroe urgently beckoned him into her dressing room. Henny Backus, Jim's wife, recalled the story: “Jim was in the 1952 film _Don’t Bother to Knock_, with Marilyn Monroe. He came home one night during the filming and told me that Miss Monroe in her most seductive breathy voice asked him to meet her in her dressing room. His curiosity got the better of him and he went. Once there, she exclaimed like an excited child, ‘Do Mr. Magoo!’ And Jim did.”

He frequently could be heard on primetime radio programs in the postwar era, including _ The Jack Benny Program _, and he portrayed an exceedingly vain character named Hartley Benson on _The Mel Blanc Show _ on the CBS
CBS
Radio Network , as well as a similar character named Hubert Updike on _ The Alan Young Show _ on the NBC Radio Network . He also starred on the short-lived variety program _The Jim Backus
Jim Backus
Show_ on the ABC Radio Network in 1957 and 1958, when that network changed its name to the American Broadcasting Network (ABN) and tried out a "Live and Lively" format of "Big Time Radio" with orchestras and audiences. Backus costarred in the comedy show _I Married Joan_ from 1952 to 1955, portraying the husband of Joan Davis.

In stark contrast to his usual affluent characters, he appeared on _ The Brady Bunch _ as an old gold prospector, a role he also played on a _Gilligan's Island_ episode. He also appeared in the final season episode "The Hustler" in which he plays Mike's boss, Mr. Matthews.

Backus stayed with _Gilligan's Island_ between 1964 and 1967 and did revivals of the TV series in TV films made between 1978 and 1981 (although by this time, he was starting to suffer from Parkinson's disease, and by the third and final film, _The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan\'s Island _, ill health forced him to only make a cameo appearance). He also did revivals of Mr. Magoo from 1964 to 1977, which included _The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo _ and _What\'s New, Mr. Magoo? _.

In 1977, Backus appeared in "Never Con a Killer," the pilot for the ABC crime drama _ The Feather and Father Gang _.

WRITING AND RECORDING

Backus and his wife, Henny Backus
Henny Backus
, co-wrote several humorous books, including: _...Only When I Laugh_, his autobiography , _Backus Strikes Back_, a memoir, _Forgive Us Our Digressions: An Autobiography_, and _What Are You Doing After the Orgy?_ — the title taken from a line Backus spoke in the 1965 film _ John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! _ He also co-wrote the 1971 family film _Mooch Goes to Hollywood
Hollywood
_, about a dog that tries to become a movie star.

In the late 1950s, he made two novelty 45 rpm records , "Delicious" and "Cave Man". In 1974, a full-length comedy LP album was released on the DORE label under the title _The Dirty Old Man_, with sketches written by Bob Hudson and Ron Landry , who also appear on the album, along with voice-actress Jane Webb . Backus also played the voice of God
God
in the recording of _Truth of Truths_, a 1971 rock opera based on the Bible
Bible
.

TELEVISION COMMERCIALS

Backus acted in several television commercials. As Mr. Magoo, he also helped advertise the General Electric
General Electric
line of products over the years. He was also spokesman for La-Z-Boy furniture during the 1970s. In the late 1980s, he was reunited with former co-star Natalie Schafer in an advertisement for Orville Redenbacher 's popcorn. They reprised their roles from _Gilligan's Island_, but instead of still being shipwrecked, the setting was a luxurious study or den. It was the last television appearance for both performers.

DEATH

On July 3, 1989, Backus died in Los Angeles
Los Angeles
from complications of pneumonia after suffering from Parkinson\'s disease for many years. Backus was buried at the southwest corner of Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles
Los Angeles
.

FILMOGRAPHY

* _ A-Lad-In His Lamp _ (1948) as Genie (voice, uncredited) * _ One Last Fling _ (1949) as Howard Pritchard * _ Father Was a Fullback _ (1949) as Professor Sullivan * _Easy Living _ (1949) as Dr. Franklin * _The Great Lover _ (1949) as Higgins * _ A Dangerous Profession _ (1949) as Police Lt. Nick Ferrone / Narrator * _ Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town _ (1950) as Joseph 'Little Joe' Rogers * _Customs Agent_ (1950) as Shanghai Chief Agent Thomas Jacoby * _ Emergency Wedding _ (1950) as Ed Hamley * _ The Killer That Stalked New York _ (1950) as Willie Dennis (uncredited) * _M _ (1951) as The Mayor * _ Bright Victory _ (1951) as Bill Grayson * _ Half Angel _ (1951) as Michael Hogan * _ Hollywood
Hollywood
Story _ (1951) as Mitch Davis * _Iron Man _ (1951) as Max Watkins * _ His Kind of Woman _ (1951) as Myron Winton * _ The Man with a Cloak _ (1951) as Flaherty * _I\'ll See You in My Dreams _ (1951) as Sam Harris * _I Want You _ (1951) as Harvey Landrum * _ Here Come the Nelsons _ (1952) as Joe Randolph * _ Deadline – U.S.A. _ (1952) as Jim Cleary * _ Pat and Mike _ (1952) as Charles Barry * _Don\'t Bother to Knock _ (1952) as Peter Jones * _ The Rose Bowl Story _ (1952) as Michael 'Iron Mike' Burke * _Androcles and the Lion _ (1952) as Centurion * _Above and Beyond _ (1952) as Gen. Curtis E. LeMay * _Angel Face _ (1953) as District Attorney Judson * _ I Love Melvin _ (1953) as Mergo * _Geraldine _ (1953) as Jason Ambrose * _Deep in My Heart _ (1954) as Ben Judson * _ Francis in the Navy _ (1955) as Cmdr. E.T. Hutch * _ Rebel Without a Cause _ (1955) as Frank Stark * _ The Square Jungle _ (1955) as Pat Quaid * _ Meet Me in Las Vegas _ (1956) as Tom Culdane * _ The Naked Hills _ (1956) as Willis Haver * _ The Opposite Sex _ (1956) as Psychiatrist * _ The Girl He Left Behind _ (1956) as Sgt. Hanna * _You Can\'t Run Away from It _ (1956) as Danker * _ The Great Man _ (1956) as Nick Cellantano * _ Top Secret Affair _ (1957) as Col. Homer W. Gooch * _Man of a Thousand Faces _ (1957) as Clarence Locan * _ Eighteen and Anxious _ (1957) as Harvey Graham * _The Pied Piper of Hamelin _ (1957) as King's Emissary * _ The High Cost of Loving _ (1958) as Paul Mason * _Macabre _ (1958) as Police Chief Jim Tyloe * _Ask Any Girl _ (1959) as Maxwell * _ The Wild and the Innocent _ (1959) as Mr. Forbes * _The Big Operator _ (1959) as Cliff Heldon * _A Private\'s Affair _ (1959) as Jim Gordon * _1001 Arabian Nights _ (1959) as Uncle Abdul Azziz Magoo (voice) * _Ice Palace _ (1960) as Dave Husack * _ The Errand Boy _ (1961) as Mr. Arbutt (voice, uncredited) * _ The Horizontal Lieutenant _ (1962) as Cmdr. Jeremiah Hammerslag * _Boys\' Night Out _ (1962) as Peter Bowers * _ Zotz! _ (1962) as Horatio Kellgore * _ The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm _ (1962) as The King ('The Dancing Princess') * _Mister Magoo\'s Christmas Carol _ (1962) (TV) as Ebenezer Scrooge / Mr. Magoo (voice) * _ Operation Bikini _ (1963) as Bosun's Mate Ed Fennelly * _ My Six Loves _ (1963) as Sheriff * _Critic\'s Choice _ (1963) as Dr. William Von Hagedorn * _ The Beverly Hillbillies _ (1963) (TV) as Marty Van Ransohoff * _ Johnny Cool _ (1963) as Louis Murphy * _It\'s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World _ (1963) as Tyler Fitzgerald * _ Sunday in New York _ (1963) as Chief Pilot Drysdale * _ The Wheeler Dealers _ (1963) as Bullard Bear * "Gilligan island pilot " (1963) as Thurston Howell III * "Gilligan\'s Island " (1964-1967) as Thurston Howell III * _ Mr. Magoo in Sherwood Forest_ (1964) as Mr. Magoo (voice) * _ Advance to the Rear _ (1964) as Gen. Willoughby * _ John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! _ (1965) as Miles Whitepaper * _Fluffy _ (1965) as Sergeant * _Billie _ (1965) as Howard G. Carol * _Hurry Sundown _ (1967) as Carter Sillens * _Don\'t Make Waves _ (1967) as Himself (uncredited) * _ Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? _ (1968) as Tru-Blue Lou * _ Hello Down There _ (1969) as T.R. Hollister * _ Wake Me When the War Is Over _ (1969) (TV) as Colonel * _ I Dream of Jeannie _ (1970) (TV) as General Fitzhugh * _ The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County _ (1970) as Staunch * _Myra Breckinridge _ (1970) as Doctor * _ The Brady Bunch _ (1971) (TV) * _Now You See Him, Now You Don\'t _ (1972) as Timothy Forsythe * _ The Girl Most Likely to... _ (1973) (TV) as Tilson * _Miracle on 34th Street _ (1973) as Shellhammer * _Goodnight Jackie_ (1974) as Mr. Landry * " The New Adventures of Gilligan " (1974-1976) as Thurston Howell III * _Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus_ (1974) (TV) as Narrator / Santa Claus (voice) * _ Crazy Mama _ (1975) as Mr. Albertson * _Friday Foster _ (1975) as Enos Griffith * _The Magic Pony _ (1975) as The Tsar (voice) * _Pete\'s Dragon _ (1977) as Mayor of Passamaquoddy * _Rescue from Gilligan\'s Island _ (1978) (TV) as Thurston Howell III * _ Good Guys Wear Black _ (1978) as Doorman * _Angels\' Brigade _ (1979) as Cmdr. Lindsey March * _The Castaways on Gilligan\'s Island _ (1979) (TV) as Thurston Howell III * _The Rebels _ (1979) as John Hancock * _ The Electric Horseman _ (1979) as Mr. Magoo (voice, uncredited) * _ C.H.O.M.P.S. _ (1979) as Mr. Gibbs * _There Goes the Bride _ (1980) as Mr. Perkins * _The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan\'s Island _ (1981) (TV) as Thurston Howell III * _Enchanted Journey _ (1981) as Gamba * _ Slapstick of Another Kind _ (1982) as President of the U.S. * "Gilligan\'s Planet " (1982) as Thurston Howell III * _ Prince Jack _ (1984) as Dealy * _Gilligan\'s Island _ (1964-1992) (TV) as Thurston Howell III

REFERENCES

* ^ "Russell Gould Backus (1880 - 1954) - Find A Grave Memorial". * ^ "Thursday\'s Highlights" (PDF). _Radio and Television Mirror_. 13 (5): 50. March 1940. Retrieved 24 February 2015. * ^ "Animation Anecdotes #193". * ^ General Electric
General Electric
advertisement featuring Mr. Magoo. _Life_ Magazine December 14, 1959 * ^ Collins, Glenn (July 4, 1989). "Jim Backus, 76, Character Actor Best Known as Mr. Magoo, Dies". _