James Gilmore "Jim" Backus was an American radio, television, film, and voice actor, whose Disney roles included Milton in the animated short, Plutopia, The Mayor in Pete's Dragon, and Timothy Forsythe in Now You See Him, Now You Don't. He also hosted the Mouse Factory episodes "Homeowners", "Paul Bunyan", and "Homes" and his acknowledgment of being the original voice of Mr. Magoo appeared in the 1997 live-action film adaptation of Mr. Magoo.
Backus was born February 25, 1913, in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Bratenahl, Ohio and attended Shaw High School and graduated from University School in Hunting Valley, Ohio.
Backus was acting on radio as early as 1940, playing the role of millionaire aviator Dexter Hayes on Society Girl on CBS. He had an extensive career and worked steadily in Hollywood over five decades, often portraying characters with an "upper-crust", New England-like air, much like his best-known role, Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island. His other television appearances included The Beverly Hillbillies, The Wild Wild West, Blondie, I Married Joan, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Brady Bunch. He also provided the original voice of Mr. Magoo in various shorts, specials, and commercials.
Backus also appeared in films, like Rebel Without a Cause, A Dangerous Profession, Deadline – U.S.A., Pat and Mike, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Don't Bother to Knock, Critic's Choice, The Wheeler Dealers, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, Sunday in New York, The Magic Pony, and The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County.
On July 3, 1989, Backus died in Los Angeles from complications of pneumonia after suffering from Parkinson's disease for many years.