Southland : TV Actor Jim Backus Dies at 76

From Times staff and wire service reports

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.”