r. Magoo was a
snooty, incredibly near-sighted character who was constantly
getting himself into comedic trouble due to his intense myopia
and chronic stubborness. Despite his lack of vision, Magoo had
been entrusted as the caretaker of his little nephew Waldo,
who was always drawn in to his uncle's mishaps.
Jim Backus, best known as millionaire Thurston Howell III
from Gilligan's Island, provided the voice for Magoo before,
during, and after the actor's island stay.
Dating back to 1949, Magoo first starred in a series of UPA
theatrical animated shorts. He made his television series
debut in 1960 with the self-titled, Mr. Magoo. Magoo's
character was softened for the TV episodes and he was joined
by a supporting cast which included his nephew Waldo, from the
theatrical shorts, and other relatives including Mother Magoo
and an English nephew, Prezley.
The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo debuted on NBC-TV in
prime time in 1964. As well as playing host and narrator,
Magoo was presented in a variety of roles, portraying various
literary and historical figures like Don Quixote, Cyrano
DeBergerac, William Tell, and many more. The show even took on
such weighty material as Ulysses and Moby Dick. 13 hour-long
episodes were produced, some being 2 half-hour stories in one
program. One story, Robin Hood, was a full-length feature
presented in two, hour long programs. Unfortunately, the
program left the air after only one season, but the cartoons
were later syndicated as animated specials under the umbrella
title Mr. Magoo's Storybook.
Magoo had to wait until 1977 to get another series, What's
New, Mr. Magoo? That series lasted two seasons, after which
Magoo faded into pop culture limbo until a 1997 live-action
feature, starring Leslie Nielsen in the title role.