THURSTON HOWELL III (mentioned in the opening credits as: "THE
MILLIONAIRE") is a character on the
CBS television sitcom Gilligan\'s
Island , which ran from 1964 to 1967, and later in syndication .
Howell, portrayed by veteran character actor
Jim Backus , is so
wealthy that he took hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and
several changes of clothing with him for what was intended to be only
a three-hour boat tour in
Hawaii , one of the sillier premises of the
show. Speaking with a
Locust Valley lockjaw accent, Howell is a
stereotypical member of the New England
Yankee elite — a resident of
Newport, Rhode Island , a graduate of
Harvard University and a
Republican. He is a member of the Union League Club where he has a
"window seat". His wife, Lovey , portrayed by
Natalie Schafer , is
conscious of social strata, yet seems to be a good-hearted woman with
a deep sense of noblesse oblige , allowing her to interact with the
other passengers and crew, though they are all her social inferiors.
One of the implied humorous points of the show is that Thurston
continually fails to realize that all of the Howells' money is
essentially useless to them on the island . On the other hand, the
other castaways apparently tolerate the fact that he refuses to do any
work. One exception is when an egocentric Hollywood producer (played
Phil Silvers ) "visited" the island and the Howells had to wait on
him as butler and maid in order to be rescued. One of the most unusual
aspects of his character is that, even though he is married, he sleeps
with a teddy bear that he calls "Teddy". The Howells, as was common
practice on American sitcoms of the mid-1960s, slept in twin beds.
Thurston Howell III was the basis of a character in the television
sitcom Dusty\'s Trail which was based on Gilligan\'s
Howell was included on
Forbes Magazine's 2006 list of the 15 richest
fictional characters . Just how much money he had was never
specified, but he was shown as owning several large corporations. When
asked what happened to him during the
Great Depression , his wife says
that he was a billionaire, lost most of his money and "became just a
millionaire." Among his assets were a diamond mine, a coconut
plantation, a railroad, an oil well, and 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) in
Colorado —which included all of downtown
Denver —that he
bequeathed to his fellow castaways in his will. He also owned the
Hatchet-Cuckoo Oil Company in Dust Bowl, Oklahoma. He tried to shove
this supposedly worthless oil company on Gilligan. When he hears that
an imposter is going to sell off his companies for cash, he is so
enraged that he tries to swim back to the mainland three times, intent
on killing the man, only to be stopped by Gilligan, the Skipper and
his wife. Backus reprised his role in the three spin-off movies of the
original series, although in the last one, (The Harlem Globetrotters
Island ) Backus's declining health only allowed him to
make a three minute appearance. Although the Howells never had any
children in the original series, their son, Thurston Howell IV
David Ruprecht ), is introduced in that movie. The
younger Howell's mannerisms are similar to those of his father.
CULTURAL AND LITERARY REFERENCES
Mitt Romney was compared to Thurston Howell during his 2012 U.S.
Presidential campaign due to a perception of him as wealthy and
* ^ Noer, Michael (2006-11-20). "The
Forbes Fictional 15".
Forbes.com . Retrieved 2010-01-10.
* ^ Brooks, David (2012-09-18). "Thurston Howell Romney". The New
York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2012.