Jim Backus Biography, Height, Age, Family, Death, Education, Net Worth and News

Jim Backus Biography

Jim Backus ( born James Gilmore Backus ) was an American radio, television, film, and voice actor. Among his most famous roles was 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.


The American radio, television, film, and voice actor was born on February 25, 1913, in Cleveland, OH, and died on July 3, 1989, in Los Angeles, CA.

Jim’s Height

Have you been wondering how tall is the American radio, television, film, and voice actor, well, according to our research he has a standing height of 5 feet 10 inches.

Jim’s Family

Backus was married to actress Betty Kean from 1939 to 1942. After divorcing Kean, he married Henny Backus on January 14, 1943. As a golf enthusiast, he participated in many tournaments across the United States. He even made the 36-hole cut in 1964 when he took part in ‘Bing Crosby Pro-Am.’


Jim studied at ‘Shaw High School’ in East Cleveland. He attended ‘Kentucky Military Institute’ where he became friends with Victor Mature, who, too, would become a professional actor. Backus was more interested in acting and playing golf than attending classes. Hence, he convinced his father to allow him to attend the ‘American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. After relocating to New York City, he started working as a radio announcer to support himself.

Jim Backus Photo

Happy 106th Birthday Jim Backus – Waldina


In 1940, Backus started playing Dexter Hayes on the ‘CBS’ radio show, ‘Society Girl.’ Thereafter, Jim voiced Hartley Benson in the radio situation comedy ‘The Mel Blanc Show.’ Again, he also lent his voice to various post-war era radio programs, such as the popular comedy show ‘The Jack Benny Program.’ Similarly, Jim hosted his short-lived variety program, ‘The Jim Backus Show,’ which was broadcast on the ‘ABC Radio Network.’ Though, he started his film career as a voice actor in movies like ‘Where Will You Hide?’ and ‘A-Lad-In His Lamp.’ Moreover, Jim got an opportunity to lend his voice to the wealthy, short-statured, and near-sighted fictional cartoon character, Mr. Magoo, in the short comedy film ‘Ragtime Bear’ (1949).
Though his role went uncredited, he went on to reprise the role of Mr. Magoo in many films and television shows. However, Mr. Magoo eventually became his signature role and his performance increased his popularity as a voice actor. Besides, he voiced Mr. Magoo in several films like ‘Trouble Indemnity’ (1950), ‘Grizzly Golfer’ (1951), ‘Magoo’s Masterpiece’ (1953), ‘When Magoo Flew’ (1955), ‘Magoo’s Puddle Jumper’ (1956), and ‘Inside Magoo’ (1960). ‘Inside Magoo’ was a cancer awareness short film produced by the ‘American Cancer Society.’  Furthermore, Jim also voiced  Magoo in television films and series like ‘Mister Magoo’ (1960-61), ‘The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo’ (1964-65), ‘What’s New, Mr. Magoo?’ (1977), ‘Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol’ (1962), and ‘Uncle Sam Magoo’ (1970).

Jim Backus Net Worth

Backus was an American actor who had a net worth equal to $5 million at the time of his death in 1989, after adjusting for inflation.

Jim Backus Death

Jim suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years. Although, on July 3, 1989, he succumbed to complications caused by pneumonia in Los Angeles, California. Therefore, he was laid to rest at the southwest corner of ‘Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles. Later, in September 1999, his wife, Henny, released a book titled ‘Care for the Caretaker’ in which she documented Backus’ struggle with Parkinson’s disease.



New York Times News ServiceCHICAGO TRIBUNE

Jim Backus, the beetle-browed actor whose booming voice gave life to the nearsighted cartoon character of Mr. Magoo and the self-indulgent millionaire of ”Gilligan`s Island,” died of pneumonia Monday in St. John`s Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76. Mr. Backus, who had Parkinson`s disease for many years, entered the hospital more than two weeks ago. He was an actor and writer in the theater, radio, and television and in more than 80 movies. His most prestigious film role was that of James Dean`s ineffectual father in ”Rebel Without a Cause,” but it was as Mr. Backus.

pink-nosed bumbler.

Magoo became best known to audiences. His vocal portrayal of the pink-nosed bumbler in the screen cartoon series began in the late 1940s, continued for more than 50 episodes, and won two Academy Awards. In 1958, in his freewheeling reminiscence, ”Rocks on the Roof,” Mr. Backus said he had loosely patterned the delivery and philosophy of Mr. Magoo on his father. An amiable Cleveland engineer who confused names, dates, and places with lovable determination. ‘Magoo`s appeal lies in our hostility toward an older generation,” Mr. Backus said in a 1958 interview.

”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.”Mr. James Gilmore Backus, born and raised in Cleveland, graduated in 1933 from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Later on, after two years of appearances in summer stock and several productions in New York, Mr. Backus said, ”I decided to try radio as a source of livelihood because I like to eat regularly.”Furthermore, he was a free-lance performer on hundreds of radio programs. Ultimately Jim became a hit playing a character called Hubert Updyke III on several shows.

Broadway appearances.

Updyke, a hilarious snob who insisted that his ancestors landed at ”Cadillac Rock,” said things like ”Careful, or I`ll have your mouth washed out with domestic champagne.” Additionally, his Broadway appearances included roles in ”Too Many Heroes” (1937) and ”Paint Your Wagon” (1951). However, as a writer, Mr. Backus often collaborated with his wife, the former Henriette Kaye. Whereby the two wrote a lighthearted depiction of their life together in a 1962 book, ”What Are You Doing After the Orgy?” Besides, they also produced two humor books based on his illness, ”Backus Strikes Back” and ”Forgive Us Our Digressions.

‘Among his more memorable screen portrayals was Cmdr. Hutch in ”Francis in the Navy” (1955) and the glib press agent in ”Man of a Thousand Faces”(1957). On television, Mr. Backus appeared in the ”Lux Video Theater,” was a panelist on ”What`s My Line?” and played Joan Davis` long-suffering husband on 117 episodes of ”I Married Joan” (1952-1954). Mr. Backus won popularity with younger generations for his portrayal of the fabulously wealthy Thurston Howell III on television`s ”Gilligan`s Island,” which originally ran from 1964 to 1967 and which has been in syndication ever since.”The critics assassinated it, but the kids flipped for it,” he once said.” I`ve been watching the reruns and confess I`m hooked on it myself.”Mr. Backus is survived by his wife.