Actor Jim Backus, who played Thurston Howell III on “Gilligan’s Island” and did the voice of the cartoon character Mr. Magoo, died today of pneumonia, a St. John’s Hospital spokeswoman said in Santa Monica. He was 76.
Backus died at 8:45 a.m. His physician listed the cause of death as pneumonia.
Although he starred in his own TV show for a year and played Joan Davis’s husband for three years in “I Married Joan,” Backus is probably best remembered as Howell, the world’s richest man, on the 1964-67 comedy series “Gilligan’s Island,” which still appears in syndication.
Backus, who began a radio career in the 1930s and graduated to TV in 1949, also did the voice for the “Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo” during the 1964-65 television season. His most recent TV role was as a guest on “Fantasy Island.”
In 1955 he appeared as James Dean’s father in “Rebel Without a Cause.”