Jim Backus - Famous Voice Actor

Jim Backus Net Worth


Jim Backus had a net worth of $5 million at the time of his death in 1989, which was adjusted for inflation. He was an American actor who was most famous for his character Thurston Howell III on the TV show Gilligan’s Island.

Key facts:

  • Jim Backus was an American actor known for his roles in film, television, and radio.
  • Backus had 250 acting credits to his name, making him one of the most prolific actors of his time.
  • He was best known for his roles as Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island, Judge Bradley Stevens on I Married Joan, and the voice of Mr. Magoo on various series.
  • In 196, Jim Backus was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the entertainment industry.
  • Backus hosted his own series called The Jim Backus Show and played the role of Hubert Updike III on the radio show The Alan Young Show during the height of his career.

Basic Information About Jim Backus

CategoryCelebrities β€Ί Actors
ProfessionsActor, Voice Actor, Writer
Net worth$5,000,000
Date of birth1913-02-25
Place of birthCleveland
Date of death1989-07-03 (aged 76)
NationalityUnited States of America
Curiosities and TrademarksRich smooth voice
Often played wealthy, upper-class figures
SpouseHenny Backus - (14 JanuaryΒ 1943 - 3 JulyΒ 1989)Β (his death)
Betty Kean - (1939 - 1942)Β (divorced)
Social Mediaβ†—οΈŽ Wikipedia β†—οΈŽ IMDb

What Movie Awards did Jim Backus win?


Golden Globe

Golder Raspberry


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Jim Backus roles

Movie / Series Role
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad WorldTyler Fitzgerald
Pete's DragonThe Mayor
Myra BreckinridgeDoctor
CHiPsWeitzman 1 episode, 1977
The Beverly HillbilliesMarty Van Ransohoff 1 episode, 1963
Chico and the ManHarold Erickson 1 episode, 1975
Arrest and TrialSam Thayer 1 episode, 1964
Kolchak: The Night StalkerHerb Bresson 1 episode, 1975
The Brady BunchZaccariah T. Brown / ... 3 episodes, 1971-1974
Nanny and the ProfessorDr. Charles Walters 1 episode, 1970
Love, American StyleJerry (segment "Love and the Understanding") / ... 2 episodes, 1970
The Love BoatMr. Landers / ... 2 episodes, 1978-1981
TattletalesSelf 5 episodes, 1974
New Zoo RevueTraveling Salesman 1 episode, 1975
The Mod SquadEmile Wade 1 episode, 1973
Marcus Welby, M.D.Bill 1 episode, 1974
I SpyTom Mathews 1 episode, 1968
The Ghost BustersEric, the Red 1 episode, 1975
Match Game 73Self - Panelist 5 episodes, 1973
I Dream of JeannieGeneral Charles Fitzhugh 1 episode, 1970
The Wild Wild WestFabian Swanson 1 episode, 1969
Fantasy IslandCap Truman / ... 2 episodes, 1978-1980
Burke's LawHarold Mason / ... 3 episodes, 1963-1964
Trapper John, M.D.Gus 1 episode, 1983
Ark IIArnie Pool 1 episode, 1976
Laugh-InGuest Performer (uncredited) unknown episodes
Medical CenterDr. Danvers 1 episode, 1973

Jim Backus's Quotes

  • Many a man owes his success to his first wife and his second wife to his success.
  • Mr. Magoo's appeal lies in our hostility toward an older generation. But he's not only nearsighted physically; his mind is selective of what it sees, too. That is where the humor, the satire lies, in the difference between what he thinks he sees and reality as we see it.

Jim Backus's photos

The Legacy of Jim Backus: From Rebel Without a Cause to Mr. Magoo

Jim Backus, famous for his roles as Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island and the voice of Mr. Magoo, was born James Gilmore Backus on February 25, 1913, in Cleveland, Ohio. Beginning his career in 1942, he appeared on numerous radio programs such as The Alan Young Show and played the lead character in the series I Married Joan from 1952 to 1955.

Net Worth Details

Jimmie’s illustrious career spanned over almost four decades with 250 credits to his name. At the time of his death in 1989, Jim Backus’s net worth was estimated to be $5 million after adjusting for inflation factors.


What is Jim Backus known for?

Backus is widely recognized for his versatility in acting on the radio, film, and television, and his iconic roles like his statement role of voicing Mr. Magoo in different television series, becoming nearly synonymous with the famous cartoon character himself. He appeared as Thurston Howell III in famed comedy sitcom Gilligan’s Island and starred alongside James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. His talent and acumen established him as a highly respected authority in the entertainment industry.

Early life and education

Jim Backus was born into a wealthy family, his father being a fabric company president, which provided him with an affluent upbringing. Although he was associated with wealth, Jim’s parents encouraged him to be independent and pursue his interests. After attending Shaw High School in East Cleveland, Ohio, Backus graduated in 1931 and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City for about a year, where he was cast in a Broadway production called Night Must Fall. His acclamation opened doors for him to become part of a prominent theater company called The Group Theater.


Jim Backus had a long and illustrious acting career that began before World War II and continued well into the 197s. He held some of his most iconic roles, such as his famous voiceover role of Mr. Magoo, which he has played since the late 194s, on both television and movies, establishing the character over generations, partially because of his ability to perfect the characterization of such a strange creature.

One of the main reasons that made Jim an outstanding actor lies mainly in his ability to adapt to a mass variety of roles; Jim could play everyone, from dramatic characters in such films as Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean, while also creating some of the more hilarious characters Galloping through comedy scenes with grace like Thurston Howell III in seven seasons of the series Gilligan’s Island, keeping people entertainer during the rocky times.


Jim Backus passed away on July 3rd, 1989, in Los Angeles, California. The actor succumbed to his lung cancer journey and died at Los Angeles’ St. John’s Health Center a few months later at 76 years old.


Over four decades, Jim received numerous nominations and worldwide acclaim for several of his performances. For one, his portrayal of Judge Bradley Stevens on I Married Joan won him an Emmy nomination for the best continuing performance by a comedian in an ongoing series before his popular portrayal of Thurston Howell III in Gilligan’s Island conquered people’s hearts. Besides that, Jim Backus has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which he earned in 196 at 1735 Vine Street, not to forget that his captivating voice made people absconds with the witty Mr. Magoo from the late 194s.


Jim Backus set a standard for what an actor could be, filled with breathtaking performances and styles that raised the middle, which gave him performances that have an enduring radiance that brought joy to so many others, and, like so many great actors before him, helped shape popular culture for generations to come. Backus’s mesmerizing career has established him as one of the most renowned actors of the twentieth century and earned him an enduring legacy that will live on forever.

Interesting Facts about Jim Backus

  1. Following his death, he was interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.
  2. One of his teachers in grade school was Margaret Hamilton, who would later play the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  3. Attended the Kentucky Military Institute. One of his classmates was future fellow actor Victor Mature.
  4. Used to work as a radio announcer in New York City.
  5. When Backus was doing radio plays, one of his characters Hubert Updyke III would become the basis for Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island (1964).
  6. Was an avid golfer.
  7. Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 34-35. New York: Facts on File (1992). ISBN 0816023387.
  8. He was once roommates with Martin Gabel.
  9. He not only played Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island (1964), once he also did a double-role, portraying a man, that impersonated Thurston Howell III, but was a criminal, in Gilligan's Island: Will the Real Mr. Howell Please Stand Up? (1966). The man later falls off a yacht, while drinking wine from a lady's slipper.
  10. He reached the United States 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 voice was actress Lenore Kingston. 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.
  11. He provided the voice of Wally the Bird on the Western Airlines commercials 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).
  12. Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 43-45. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons (1999).
  13. Was the first choice to play Abner Kravitz on Bewitched (1964), but turned down the role, as he was already working on Gilligan's Island (1964). The role went to George Tobias.
  14. 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 could not manage the steps into Schwartz's house.
  15. In November 1957, Eva Gabor was his landlady - he sublet her New York City apartment.
  16. He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1735 Vine Street in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
  17. Had played the same character (Thurston Howell III) on three different series: Gilligan's Island (1964), The New Adventures of Gilligan (1974) and Gilligan's Planet (1982).
  18. Had appeared with Charles McGraw in four films: Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1950), His Kind of Woman (1951), The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962) and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963).
  19. Had appeared with Mickey Rooney in four films: The Big Operator (1959), It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County (1970) and Pete's Dragon (1977).
  20. Had appeared with Natalie Wood in four films: Father Was a Fullback (1949), The Rose Bowl Story (1952), Botsende jeugd (1955) and The Girl He Left Behind (1956).

References & Fact Checks βœ…

1/ Filename: virginia-brissac-jim-backus-ann-doran-edward-platt-and-james-dean-in-rebel-without-a-cause-trailer-YI67E2C4.jpg
  • Checked: βœ… Yes (2023-07-02 00:33:50)
  • Source URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Virginia_Brissac,_Jim_Backus,_Ann_Doran,_Edward_Platt_and_James_Dean_in_Rebel_Without_a_Cause_trailer.jpg
  • Original Source: Rebel Without a Cause trailer
  • Author: Trailer screenshot
  • Date taken: 1955
2/ Filename: jim-backus-nancy-kulp-beverly-hillbillies-1963-U965A91Q.jpg
  • Checked: βœ… Yes (2023-07-02 00:33:51)
  • Source URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jim_Backus_Nancy_Kulp_Beverly_Hillbillies_1963.JPG
  • Original Source:

    eBay item photo front

    photo back
  • Author: CBS Television
  • Date taken: Press release is undated; there is a 24 April 1963 date stamp.
3/ Filename: jim-and-henny-backus-1969-o8688k01.jpg
  • Checked: βœ… Yes (2023-07-02 00:33:52)
  • Source URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jim_and_Henny_Backus_1969.JPG
  • Original Source:

    eBay item photo front

    phpto back
  • Author: CBS Television
  • Date taken: May 1969

Jim Backus Famous Network

Male Actors ♂️ With Net Worth Closest To $5,000,000

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