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Robert Mitchum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Mitchum
Robert Mitchum 1949 (no signature).jpg
Mitchum in July 1949
Robert Charles Durman Mitchum

(1917-08-06)August 6, 1917
DiedJuly 1, 1997(1997-07-01) (aged 79)
Resting placeAshes scattered into the Pacific Ocean
OccupationActor, author, composer, singer
Years active1942–1995
Spouse(s)Dorothy Spence (m. 1940–1997; his death)
ChildrenJames Mitchum, Christopher Mitchum, and Petrine Day Mitchum
Robert Mitchum signature.png

Robert Charles Durman Mitchum (August 6, 1917 – July 1, 1997) was an American film actor, director, author, poet, composer, and singer. Mitchum rose to prominence for his starring roles in several classic films noir, and is generally considered a forerunner of the antiheroes prevalent in film during the 1950s and 1960s. His best-known films include Out of the Past (1947), The Night of the Hunter (1955), and Cape Fear (1962). Mitchum was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for The Story of G.I. Joe (1945).

Mitchum is rated number 23 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest male stars of Classic American Cinema.[1]

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this is robert mitchum he was possibly the most reluctant person to ever become a movie star Robert Charles Mitchum was born August 6, 1917 in Bridgeport Connecticut. His father James Thomas Mitchum was a shipyard and railroad worker his mother was Anne Gunnerson Mitchum she was a norwegian immigrant and the daughter of a sea captain. Robert had an older sister named and may it and it was three years older the robert and was born on july of 23rd 1914 in February of 1919 when Robert was too and it was five their father James was crushed to do it in a real switchyard exit while the family was living in Charleston South Carolina after James day at the family moved back to Connecticut to live with his parents Robert's mother hand with seven months pregnant at the time with a third child John Newton born September the 619 that team while living in Connecticut Robert's mother meets a man by the name of Bill Clancy they were married but only for a short time she said that he was abusive torture and when Robert was six-years-old the local newspaper head of Saturday column that feature poems and stories written by local children Robert's mother entered some of his point that she had found in his bedroom and he won the contest and a story and a picture of Robert was featured in the local paper his mother was so grateful to the editor for picking robbers poems that she invited him to dinner the next year when Robert was eight years old his mother and newspaper editor major human Mars a reserve British officer made the year was nineteen twenty five two years later in july of 1927 the couple will have a baby girl they will neighbor Carol Mars Robert and jon is old enough by this time to start rolling the street and getting into minded trouble and decided it'd be better for her two boys to go and spend some time with her parents on their farm outside of felton delaware now Robert enjoyed the farm and was considered a smart kid in school however he was always getting into trouble even have in trouble with the principal and needless to say he was expelled Robert sister and then he left home at an early age with a traveling theater group and by this time she had made a satyr that was also an ascendant you left and that living in a cold water flat and Hills kitchen in New York the entire family moved to New York and in the flat with an eight the newspaper wasn't doing well and jobs were hard to find because it was depression which affected everything their home was to do better in New York but things were no better there Robert did inner hand asking for a short time but more than once he was sent home for bad behavior soon the family decided to leave New York moved back to delaware whereas parents were Robert Charles Mitchell at the age of 14 whilst eight years later that he records his ambition at that time was just to be a bone for almost two years Mitchell no traveler rails as a hobo life will be rough but people will be kinder to a fourteen-year-old boy than the thousands of grown me surgeon to work he will work all kinds of jobs temporary and stated when he was in a place long enough he would get a letter from his mother and sit and cry wanting to see her kitchen stated that when he was 16 he had had enough for the road and was actually on his way home he was riding a train through savannah georgia when he was arrested for riding without a ticket he said he never had a ticket when you wrote he spent five days until the four seeing a judge and when he did go before the court he was surprised to learn that they charged him with burglarizing a shoe store and stealing forty dollars now they knew that he had thirty-eight dollars in his pocket when he was arresting the problem was when the money was stolen Mitchum was in jail and when a judge learned is he said well some charging you with vagrancy that will straighten you out and for several days he repaired roads in Savannah on a chain game the guards eventually removed the change from his legs that was becoming infected when he got to change here and I don't even think they chased me said I wasn't worth it bitch i'm headed for his mother's house in Delaware while they're 16 year-old robert mitchum will meet dark-haired fourteen-year-old Dorothy spent North was first being the girlfriend of Roberts younger brother John but soon romance was looming between Robert and Daugherty by 1936 and it was living in long beach california and Robert and John decided to go to California and stay with the next he promised to come back and get Dorothy when he got work finally the rest of the family made it out to California after saving some money Robert kept his promise and went back to delaware for Dorothy Spence they were married on the sixteenth of March 1940 they will immediately catch a bus and hit for California their first home will be a cleaned-out chicken house behind the family home in Los Angeles and one year later their first child was born James Robin Spence Mitchum now the support his family Robert gets a job at lockheed aircraft working the graveyard shift and while working at lockheed he became acquainted with Jim Daughtery who is made to a pretty young girl who couldn't be in over 15 of 16 years old by the name of normal g and Mitchum said that gym which show him wallet pictures of his wife he was proud of and that he couldn't believe that he would one day star in a movie called a river of no return with Jim's ex-wife Marilyn Monroe mention stated that he hated factory work and he would do anything to get away from it Roberts history had been involved with a long this theater deal where she had managed to become a performer she have Robert get a job as a staging and in a case little bit clearer Robert will lack acting better than working he said and while there which emit an agent to get him an interview with the producer of the hop alone Cassidy series of the movies they were westerns that was starring we employed they thought that he looked like a good villain because of his sleepy eyes we avoid stated that the producer didn't know that mention couldn't ride a horse said the horse throwed him twice he said that Robert grab the horse by the reins pull his face down to his and said now listen you sob and they discharge and I intend to keep it he said I believe the horse understood him perfectly because Mitchell made eight more Western said year Robert always said that he got his acting career started wearing a dead man's head it seemed that Charlie Murphy one of the extras was accidentally killed wherein ahead and wardrobe of sand mentioned the head it had dried blood still in it when asked why did you wear the head he said what can you do you want the job you want to eat you wear the damn hand in 1943 mention played in a supporting role with Nick you ready in the human comedy it led to a seven-year contract with RKO also in the sixteenth of october 1943 Robert and Dorothy will have their second child Christopher and in mission two years later in 1945 rkl will end him out to united artists to start with Burgess married it in GI joe robert mitchum will be nominated for an Academy Award and it will be the only time also in 1945 as Mitchum becomes more well known as an actor he told that he was sitting on his front porch having a drink and watching the Stars when a man jumps out of the car runs up to the porch shines allowed in his face and grabbed him mention bus the man in the face breaking his nose it turned out that the man was a los angeles police officer with the wrong address unfortunately mentioned didn't let it go his wife Dorothy said Robert sometimes has a little problem with authority anyway Robert ends up in jail when his RKO attorney advises him to plead guilty pay you ten dollars and get a suspended sentence mitcham agreed after the guilty plea the judge unfortunately had other ideas do a hundred and eighty days and chill he sees Mitchum said I can't do that the judge says what he says because I'm joining the army vintage it says a lot of patriotic actors the next day the same two cups escorted him to the enrichment center the official studio land was it he had tried to at least several times before the robert said the truth was is it when they dragged me away i still had the porch rail splinters under my fingernails Mitchum said they put him in the Medical Corps check-in genitals for venereal disease not the best job in the world the actors served eight months and from natal of family hardship discharge actually left the military return to the movies in 1947 he appeared in out of the past with Jane Greer and cart Douglas that same year his younger brother John after traveling sees decided to try his hand in the movies his first notable film was the Prairie he'll become a noted character actor appeared in over a hundred and fifty seems performing and everything from TVs detective show Richard island to movies like Dirty Harry John Mitchell pass away on November's 20-man 2000 lon after complications of three strokes he's buried at the sportsman lodge in studio city california he was survived by his wife Bonnie and daughters Vicki and Cindy John Mitchum was 82 years old and 1948 robert mitchum wife Dorothy had left him and went back east his corrals and was becoming too much for her to handle things got worse when Mitchum and I freaking love it forward real estate agent was visiting a young actress Lila Leeds and her friend Vicky evidence that leads home in Laurel Canyon before were passing around a marijuana joint when suddenly the please crash through the back door they quickly arrested the floor kitchen was convicted of conspiracy to possess marijuana is given two years probation and too much to serve in the county jail and he did is too much at the City Hall of Justice in Los Angeles his conviction will be overturned in January 1951 Mitchell machineries movie career was over after his arrest he had listed his occupation as former actor Robert old friend well this is the end of everything my career my marriage everything went north you read about the troubles she quickly returned to support him to your scandals to everyone's surprise even the studio's when September 20 of 1948 his next movie came out Rachel in the stranger Loretta Young the audience actually stood up and applauded when Mitchum appeared on the screen the next year in 1949 nuchem start in the big steel it was the only time that his life dorty had an unaccredited role as a tourist Elizabeth Scott had been scheduled to play the part of John Grail because Mitchum had been convicted of possessing marijuana and had spent some time in jail she pull out three weeks before the movie started it was reported that RKO owner Howard Hughes have been keeping JaneDear a former girlfriend of his from appearing in RKO pictures in order to destroy her career he finally had to hard when no other female lead would take the part a mission was known for taking it for the cast and crew when he thought that RKO producers would treat them well a one occasion when they would brain coffee but no one else would get any he demanded coffee for everyone they refused he told them I don't like the coffee you brought me so he went out for coffee and stayed out to sit for two hours next morning everyone had coffee and that didn't fit you want me to start with jane russell and he is kind of woman Russell stop full he said and down-to-earth although with being outspoken and not afraid of what people thought now these were the traits that Mitchell act and they became close friends that will last a lifetime in fact she was the only none family member who attended the spreading of missions ashes at is dead well March a third 1954 Robert and Dorothy elevator girl they named her betraying de mission after Roberts paternal grandmother now that year he also starred with Marilyn Monroe and the River of No Return said that during the scene the security line of the ralphs broke loose and started drifting towards the records Marilyn would not jump off until he did showing a lot of courage he said officious both out of the water robert said Maryland was childlike and very caring and too sweet for Hollywood our daughter he said in 1955 and starred in the latter of the hunter he was eager to get the part of the preacher and when he audition Charles loves was explaining to mention that for the preacher we made a diabolical rich and Mitchum promptly raised his hand and said present the movie was not well received by the critics at first but later was classed as one of the better movies ever made in 1954 he started in heaven knows mr. Allison with Deborah car one year later in 1958 Mitchum will venture out with Thunder Road this will be his first movie by his own production company he wrote the story he wrote the theme song and he chose his 17 year old son James to play his younger brother James will go on to play in the young guns of Texas and 1962 also moon runner in that tin 72 in that in 76 they will be tracked down and several others and I think you can and the missions will move out of Hollywood to a farm that they bout in the Maryland shores of the Chesapeake Bay now that same year in that do today Robert sister and maid had changed your stage name to Julie medium she was starring in house on Haunted Hill would then some press later it'll be high in the muddy with john wayne and many more and that Mitchell will pass away on baby where the 21st 2003 at Sun City Arizona from Alzheimer's she was 88 years old and she had no children in 1916 Mitchum was once again paired with Deborah car in the sundowner he stepped in the last moment replacing Gary Cooper he said all he did was feed her the lands and Deborah did all act when he was told that Deborah wanted top billion all Mitchum said was by all means in 1962 robert mitchum will start alone with several other prominent actors include John Wayne and the longest day also in 62 he will star in Cape Fear with Gregory pink and Polly Bergen he initially turned the roll down but when the producer cinema case of whiskey and some flowers Mitchum called him in the middle of the bed and said well have smelt your flowers and I drank your booze-soaked I guess male i'll have to make your damn movie in 1965 the family moved to Hollywood and moved into a modest ivy-covered mansion in Bel Air Robert also purchased a signal six-acre range near Los Angeles as a place to keep his many quarter horses you later say after spending a million dollars on these horses all I've managed to end up with is a million dollars worth of horseshit and 1967 he will appear with his friend John Wayne in El Dorado mitchell would play a drunken sure and realize he loved to drink and he used marijuana he started using marijuana in early life and he never quit in 1970 he was in Ryan's daughter with sarah mounds that same year he will also visit his youngest son Christopher on the set of real lobo Howard Hawks will ask Robert if you wanted to revive his role as a drunken sheriff that he did in El Dorado and adapted for real lobo Robert said no I'm retiring and John Wayne said mitch has been returned ever since that first day as known him and that in 75 Robert did very well my love with John Ireland and in 1981 robert mitchum will be sued by his longtime secretary real Frederick for back tension there was no agreement paperwork to back her case in the meantime evidence was discovered that she had been stealing millions over the years from mention she agreed to drop the lawsuit is he wouldn't prosecute in 1983 he appeared in the TV mini-series the winds of war with a human girl and in 1984 he would check into the Betty Ford Center for treatment of alcohol and 1980s submit age of city will host Saturday in that lab in 1988 he will be in screwed with beyond Mary and a host of others and that thing anyone he does a cameo and cape fear as a police lieutenant also in 91 kitchen will win a last time Achievement Award from the National Board of Review of motion pictures the next year in 92 he will receive the sesame the mail award from the Golden global was never mentioned will act in over a hundred and ten films during his long career his last appearance will be in 1997 as director George Stevens that directed James Dean in the epic movie giant it will be at evolve of James Dean in the race with destiny a few months later in july the first 1997 Robert Charles Mitchell will succumb to lung cancer and interesting there will be no memorial service at his own request his wife Dorothy Mitchell their children and longtime friend Jane Russell will spread his remains at see Robert Mitchum was 79 years old his wife Dorothy Mitchum will pass easily at the serene house hospice in santa barbara on April 212 2014 she was 94 years old and north is request remains will also be scattered at sea so that she might fulfill the peg that she made with Robert that one day there remains will meet again on Easter aland


Early life

Robert Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1917 into a Norwegian-Irish Methodist family.[2] His mother, Ann Harriet Gunderson, was a Norwegian immigrant and sea captain's daughter; his father, James Thomas Mitchum, was a shipyard and railroad worker of Irish descent.[3] His older sister, Annette (known as Julie Mitchum during her acting career), was born in 1914. Their father James Mitchum was crushed to death in a railyard accident in Charleston, South Carolina, in February 1919, when Robert was less than two years old and Annette was not yet five. Their mother was awarded a government pension, and she soon realized she was pregnant. Her third child, John, was born in September of that year. Ann married again, to Major Hugh Cunningham Morris, a former Royal Naval Reserve officer. He helped care for her three children. Ann and Morris also had a daughter together, Carol Morris, born July 1927 on the family farm in Delaware. When all of the children were old enough to attend school, Ann found employment as a linotype operator for the Bridgeport Post.[4]

As a child Mitchum was known as a prankster, often involved in fistfights and mischief. When he was 12, his mother sent him to live with her parents in Felton, Delaware; the boy was promptly expelled from middle school for scuffling with the principal. A year later, in 1930, he moved in with his older sister Annette, in New York's Hell's Kitchen. After being expelled from Haaren High School, he left his sister and traveled throughout the country on railroad cars,[5] taking a number of jobs, including ditch-digging for the Civilian Conservation Corps and professional boxing. He had many adventures during his years as one of the Depression era's "wild boys of the road". At age 14 in Savannah, Georgia, he was arrested for vagrancy and put on a local chain gang.[5] By Mitchum's own account, he escaped and returned to his family in Delaware. During this time, while recovering from injuries that nearly cost him a leg, he met Dorothy Spence, whom he would later marry. He soon went back on the road, eventually riding the rails to California.[6]


Mitchum arrived in Long Beach, California in 1936, staying again with his sister Annette, now going by the name of Julie. She had migrated to the West Coast in the hope of acting in movies. Soon, the rest of the Mitchum family joined them in Long Beach. During this time, Mitchum worked as a ghostwriter for astrologer Carroll Righter. His sister Julie convinced him to join the local theater guild with her. In his years with the Players Guild of Long Beach, Mitchum made a living as a stagehand and occasional bit-player in company productions. He also wrote several short pieces which were performed by the guild. According to Lee Server's biography (Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care), Mitchum put his talent for poetry to work writing song lyrics and monologues for Julie's nightclub performances.

Robert and Dorothy Mitchum (1948)
Robert and Dorothy Mitchum (1948)
Mitchum with his sons (1946)
Mitchum with his sons (1946)

In 1940, he returned to Delaware to marry Dorothy Spence, and they in turn moved to California. He remained a footloose character until the birth of their first child James, nicknamed Josh. They had two more children: Chris and Petrine. Mitchum got a steady job as a machine operator with the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.[6]

Mitchum suffered a nervous breakdown (which resulted in temporary blindness), apparently from job-related stress. He sought work as an actor or extra in films. His agent got him an interview with Harry Sherman, the producer of Paramount's Hopalong Cassidy western film series which starred William Boyd; Mitchum was hired to play minor villainous roles in several films in the series during 1942 and 1943. In 1943 he and Randolph Scott were soldiers in the Pacific Island war film Gung Ho![7]

Mitchum continued to find work as an extra and supporting actor in numerous productions for various studios. After impressing director Mervyn LeRoy during the making of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Mitchum signed a seven-year contract with RKO Radio Pictures. He was groomed for B-Western stardom in a series of Zane Grey adaptations.[6]

Following the moderately successful Western Nevada, Mitchum was lent from RKO to United Artists for The Story of G.I. Joe (1945). In the film, he portrayed war-weary officer Bill Walker (based on Captain Henry T. Waskow), who remains resolute despite the troubles he faces. The film, which followed the life of an ordinary soldier through the eyes of journalist Ernie Pyle (played by Burgess Meredith), became an instant critical and commercial success. Shortly after making the film, Mitchum was drafted into the United States Army, serving at Fort MacArthur, California, as a medic. At the 1946 Academy Awards, The Story of G.I. Joe was nominated for four Oscars, including Mitchum's only nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He finished the year with a Western (West of the Pecos) and a story of returning Marine veterans (Till the End of Time), before filming in a genre that came to define Mitchum's career and screen persona: film noir.

Film noir

Mitchum was initially known for his work in film noir. His first foray into the genre was a supporting role in the 1944 B-movie When Strangers Marry, about newlyweds and a New York City serial killer. Undercurrent, another of Mitchum's early noir films, featured him playing against type as a troubled, sensitive man entangled in the affairs of his brother (Robert Taylor) and his brother's suspicious wife (Katharine Hepburn). John Brahm's The Locket (1946) featured Mitchum as bitter ex-boyfriend to Laraine Day's femme fatale. Raoul Walsh's Pursued (1947) combined Western and noir styles, with Mitchum's character attempting to recall his past and find those responsible for killing his family. Crossfire (also 1947) featured Mitchum as a member of a group of World War II soldiers, one of whom kills a Jewish man. It featured themes of anti-Semitism and the failings of military training. The film, directed by Edward Dmytryk, earned five Academy Award nominations.[6]

Mitchum in Out of the Past (1947)
Mitchum in Out of the Past (1947)

Following Crossfire, Mitchum starred in Out of the Past (also called Build My Gallows High), directed by Jacques Tourneur and featuring the cinematography of Nicholas Musuraca. Mitchum played Jeff Markham, a small-town gas-station owner and former investigator, whose unfinished business with gambler Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) and femme fatale Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer) comes back to haunt him.

On September 1, 1948, after a string of successful films for RKO, Mitchum and actress Lila Leeds were arrested for possession of marijuana.[8] The arrest was the result of a sting operation designed to capture other Hollywood partiers as well, but Mitchum and Leeds did not receive the tipoff. After serving a week at the county jail (he described the experience to a reporter as being "like Palm Springs, but without the riff-raff"), Mitchum spent 43 days (February 16 to March 30) at a Castaic, California, prison farm. Life photographers were permitted to take photos of him mopping up in his prison uniform.[9] The arrest inspired the exploitation film She Shoulda Said No! (1949), which starred Leeds.[10] The conviction was later overturned by the Los Angeles court and district attorney's office on January 31, 1951, after being exposed as a setup.

Whether despite, or because of, Mitchum's troubles with the law and his studio, his films released immediately after his arrest were box-office hits. Rachel and the Stranger (1948) featured Mitchum in a supporting role as a mountain man competing for the hand of Loretta Young, the indentured servant and wife of William Holden. In the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's novella The Red Pony (1949), he appeared as a trusted cowhand to a ranching family. He returned to film noir in The Big Steal (also 1949), where he joined Jane Greer in an early Don Siegel film.

Career in the 1950s and 1960s

Mitchum with Jane Russell in His Kind of Woman (1951)

In Where Danger Lives (1950), Mitchum played a doctor who comes between a mentally unbalanced Faith Domergue and cuckolded Claude Rains. The Racket was a noir remake of the early crime drama of the same name and featured Mitchum as a police captain fighting corruption in his precinct. The Josef von Sternberg film, Macao (1952), had Mitchum as a victim of mistaken identity at an exotic resort casino, playing opposite Jane Russell. Otto Preminger's Angel Face was the first of three collaborations between Mitchum and British stage actress Jean Simmons. In this film, she played an insane heiress who plans to use young ambulance driver Mitchum to kill for her.

Mitchum was expelled from Blood Alley (1955), purportedly due to his conduct, especially his reportedly having thrown the film's transportation manager into San Francisco Bay. According to Sam O'Steen's memoir Cut to the Chase, Mitchum showed up on-set after a night of drinking and tore apart a studio office when they did not have a car ready for him. Mitchum walked off the set of the third day of filming Blood Alley, claiming he could not work with the director. Because Mitchum was showing up late and behaving erratically, producer John Wayne, after failing to obtain Humphrey Bogart as a replacement, took over the role himself.[11][12]

Following a series of conventional Westerns and films noir as well as the Marilyn Monroe vehicle River of No Return (1954), Mitchum appeared in Charles Laughton's only film as director: The Night of the Hunter (1955). Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, the thriller starred Mitchum as a monstrous criminal posing as a preacher to find money hidden by his cellmate in the cellmate's home. His performance as Reverend Harry Powell is considered by many to be one of the best of his career.[13][14] Stanley Kramer's melodrama Not as a Stranger, also released in 1955, was a box-office hit. The film starred Mitchum against type, as an idealistic young doctor, who marries an older nurse (Olivia de Havilland), only to question his morality many years later. However, the film was not well received, with most critics pointing out that Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, and Lee Marvin were all too old for their characters. Olivia de Havilland received top billing over Mitchum and Sinatra.

Dorothy and Robert Mitchum (1955)
Dorothy and Robert Mitchum (1955)

On March 8, 1955, Mitchum formed DRM (Dorothy and Robert Mitchum) Productions to produce five films for United Artists; four films were produced.[15] The first film was Bandido (1956). Following a succession of average Westerns and the poorly received Foreign Intrigue (1956), Mitchum starred in the first of three films with Deborah Kerr. The John Huston war drama Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, starred Mitchum as a Marine corporal shipwrecked on a Pacific Island with a nun, Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr), as his sole companion. In this character study, they struggle to resist the elements and the invading Japanese army. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. For his role, Mitchum was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor. In the WWII submarine classic The Enemy Below (1956), Mitchum gave a strong performance as U.S. Naval Lieutenant Commander Murrell, the captain of a U.S. Navy destroyer who matches wits with a German U-boat captain Curt Jurgens, who starred with Mitchum again in the legendary 1962 movie The Longest Day. The film won an Oscar for Special Effects.[16]

Thunder Road (1958), the second DRM Production, was loosely based on an incident in which a driver transporting moonshine was said to have fatally crashed on Kingston Pike in Knoxville, Tennessee, somewhere between Bearden Hill and Morrell Road. According to Metro Pulse writer Jack Renfro, the incident occurred in 1952 and may have been witnessed by James Agee, who passed the story on to Mitchum. He starred in the movie, and also produced the film, co-wrote the screenplay, and is rumored to have directed much of the film. Mitchum also co-wrote (with Don Raye) the theme song, "The Ballad of Thunder Road". He returned to Mexico for The Wonderful Country (1959) and Ireland for A Terrible Beauty/The Night Fighters for the last of his DRM Productions.[17]

Mitchum as Max Cady in Cape Fear (1962)
Mitchum as Max Cady in Cape Fear (1962)

Mitchum and Kerr reunited for the Fred Zinnemann film, The Sundowners (1960), where they played husband and wife struggling in Depression-era Australia. Opposite Mitchum, Kerr was nominated for yet another Academy Award for Best Actress, while the film was nominated for a total of five Oscars. Robert Mitchum was awarded that year's National Board of Review award for Best Actor for his performance. The award also recognized his superior performance in the Vincente Minnelli Western drama Home from the Hill (also 1960). He was teamed with former leading ladies Kerr and Simmons, as well as Cary Grant, for the Stanley Donen comedy The Grass Is Greener the same year.

Mitchum's performance as the menacing rapist Max Cady in Cape Fear (1962) brought him even more attention and furthered his renown for playing cool, predatory characters. The 1960s were marked by a number of lesser films and missed opportunities. Among the films Mitchum passed on during the decade were John Huston's The Misfits (the last film of its stars Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe), the Academy Award–winning Patton, and Dirty Harry. The most notable of his films in the decade included the war epics The Longest Day (1962) and Anzio (1968), the Shirley MacLaine comedy-musical What a Way to Go! (1964), and the Howard Hawks Western El Dorado (1967), a remake of Rio Bravo (1959), in which Mitchum took over Dean Martin's role of the drunk who comes to the aid of John Wayne.[6] He teamed with Martin for the 1968 Western 5 Card Stud, playing a homicidal preacher.


Album cover of Mitchum's calypso record, Calypso — is like so ...
Album cover of Mitchum's calypso record, Calypso — is like so ...

One of the lesser-known aspects of Mitchum's career was his forays into music, both as singer and composer. Critic Greg Adams writes, "Unlike most celebrity vocalists, Robert Mitchum actually had musical talent."[18] Mitchum's voice was often used instead of that of a professional singer when his character sang in his films. Notable productions featuring Mitchum's own singing voice included Rachel and the Stranger, River of No Return, and The Night of the Hunter. After hearing traditional calypso music and meeting artists such as Mighty Sparrow and Lord Invader while filming Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison in the Caribbean islands of Tobago, he recorded Calypso – is like so ... in March 1957. On the album, released through Capitol Records, he emulated the calypso sound and style, even adopting the style's unique pronunciations and slang. A year later, he recorded a song he had written for Thunder Road, titled "The Ballad of Thunder Road". The country-style song became a modest hit for Mitchum, reaching number 69 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. The song was included as a bonus track on a successful reissue of Calypso ... and helped market the film to a wider audience.[6]

Although Mitchum continued to use his singing voice in his film work, he waited until 1967 to record his follow-up record, That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings. The album, released by Nashville-based Monument Records, took him further into country music, and featured songs similar to "The Ballad of Thunder Road". "Little Old Wine Drinker Me", the first single, was a top-10 hit at country radio, reaching number nine there, and crossed over onto mainstream radio, where it peaked at number 96. Its follow-up, "You Deserve Each Other", also charted on the Billboard Country Singles chart. He sang the title song to the Western Young Billy Young, made in 1969. Mitchum co-wrote and composed the music for an oratorio which was produced by Orson Welles at the Hollywood Bowl.


Year Album U.S. Country Label
1957 Calypso — is like so ... Capitol
1967 That Man Robert Mitchum ... Sings 35 Monument


Year Single Chart positions Album
U.S. Country U.S.
1958 "The Ballad of Thunder Road" 62 That Man Robert Mitchum ... Sings
1962 "The Ballad of Thunder Road" (re-release) 65
1967 "Little Old Wine Drinker Me" 9 96
"You Deserve Each Other" 55

Later years

Mitchum in October 1976
Mitchum in October 1976

Mitchum made a departure from his typical screen persona with the 1970 David Lean film Ryan's Daughter, in which he starred as Charles Shaughnessy, a mild-mannered schoolmaster in World War I-era Ireland. At the time of filming, Mitchum was going through a personal crisis and planned to commit suicide. Aside from a personal crisis, his recent films had been critical and commercial flops. Screenwriter Robert Bolt told him that he could commit suicide after the film was finished and that he would personally pay for his burial.[19] Though the film was nominated for four Academy Awards (winning two) and Mitchum was much publicized as a contender for a Best Actor nomination, he was not nominated. George C. Scott won the award for his performance in Patton, a project Mitchum had rejected for Ryan's Daughter. The 1970s featured Mitchum in a number of well-received crime dramas. The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) had the actor playing an aging Boston hoodlum caught between the Feds and his criminal friends. Sydney Pollack's The Yakuza (1974) transplanted the typical film noir story arc to the Japanese underworld. He also appeared in 1976's Midway about an epic 1942 World War II battle. Mitchum's stint as an aging Philip Marlowe in the Raymond Chandler adaptation Farewell, My Lovely (1975) was sufficiently well received by audiences and critics for him to reprise the role in 1978's The Big Sleep.

In 1982, Mitchum went on location to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to play Coach Delaney in the film adaptation of playwright/actor Jason Miller's 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning play That Championship Season.

At the premiere for That Championship Season, Mitchum, while intoxicated, assaulted a female reporter and threw a basketball that he was holding (a prop from the film) at a female photographer from Time magazine, knocking two of her teeth out.[20][21] She sued him for $30 million for damages.[21] He eventually paid her his salary from the film.[20]

That Championship Season may have indirectly led to another debacle for Mitchum several months later. In a February 1983 Esquire interview, he made several racist, anti-Semitic and sexist statements, including, when asked if the Holocaust occurred, responded "so the Jews say."[20][22] Following the widespread negative response, he apologized a month later, saying that his statements were "prankish" and "foreign to my principle." He claimed that the problem began when he recited a racist monologue from his role in That Championship Season, but the writer had misunderstood the words to be his. Mitchum, who claimed that he had only reluctantly agreed to the interview, then decided to "string... along" the writer with even more incendiary statements.[22]

Mitchum expanded to television work with the 1983 miniseries The Winds of War. The big-budget Herman Wouk story aired on ABC, starring Mitchum as naval officer "Pug" Henry and Victoria Tennant as Pamela Tudsbury, and examined the events leading up to America's involvement in World War II.

He played George Hazard's father-in-law in the 1985 miniseries North and South, which also aired on ABC. He followed it in 1988 with War and Remembrance.[6]

Mitchum starred opposite Wilford Brimley in the 1986 made-for-TV movie Thompson's Run. A hardened con (Mitchum), being transferred from a federal penitentiary to a Texas institution to finish a life sentence as a habitual criminal, is freed at gunpoint by his niece (played by Kathleen York). The cop (Brimley) who was transferring him, and has been the con's lifelong friend and adversary for over 30 years, vows to catch the twosome. In 1987, Mitchum was the guest-host on Saturday Night Live, where he played private eye Philip Marlowe for the last time in the parody sketch, "Death Be Not Deadly". The show ran a short comedy film he made (written and directed by his daughter, Trina) called Out of Gas, a mock sequel to Out of the Past. (Jane Greer reprised her role from the original film.) He also was in Bill Murray's 1988 comedy film, Scrooged.

In 1991, Mitchum was given a lifetime achievement award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, in the same year he received the Telegatto award and in 1992 the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globe Awards.[6]

Mitchum continued to act in films until the mid-1990s, such as Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, and he narrated the Western Tombstone. He also appeared, in contrast to his role as the antagonist in the original, as a protagonist police detective in Martin Scorsese's remake of Cape Fear, but the actor gradually slowed his workload. His last film appearance was a small but pivotal role in the television biopic, James Dean: Race with Destiny, playing Giant director George Stevens. His last starring role was in the 1995 Norwegian movie Pakten.[6]


A lifelong heavy smoker, Mitchum died on July 1, 1997, in Santa Barbara, California, due to complications of lung cancer and emphysema. He was about five weeks shy of his 80th birthday. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea. He was survived by his wife of 57 years, Dorothy Mitchum (died April 12, 2014, Santa Barbara, California, aged 94),[23] and actor sons, James Mitchum, Christopher Mitchum, and writer-daughter, Petrine Day Mitchum. His grandchildren, Bentley Mitchum and Carrie Mitchum, are actors, as was his younger brother, John, who died in 2001. Another grandson, Kian, is a successful model.[24] Cappy Van Dien, Grace Van Dien, and Wyatt Mitchum Cardone are the children of Carrie Mitchum, the grandchildren of Christopher Mitchum, and the great grandchildren of Robert and Dorothy Mitchum.


Estoria Street Tunnel mural of Mitchum in Atlanta, Georgia
Estoria Street Tunnel mural of Mitchum in Atlanta, Georgia

Mitchum is regarded by some critics as one of the finest actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Roger Ebert called him "the soul of film noir." Mitchum, however, was self-effacing; in an interview with Barry Norman for the BBC about his contribution to cinema, Mitchum stopped Norman in mid flow and in his typical nonchalant style, said, "Look, I have two kinds of acting. One on a horse and one off a horse. That's it." He had also succeeded in annoying some of his fellow actors by voicing his puzzlement at those who viewed the profession as challenging and hard work. He is quoted as having said in the Barry Norman interview that acting was actually very simple and that his job was to "show up on time, know his lines, hit his marks, and go home".[25][26] Mitchum had a habit of marking most of his appearances in the script with the letters "n.a.r.", which meant "no action required", which critic Dirk Baecker has construed as Mitchum's way of reminding himself to experience the world of the story without acting upon it.[27]

AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars lists Mitchum as the 23rd-greatest male star of classic Hollywood cinema. AFI also recognized his performance as the menacing rapist Max Cady and Reverend Harry Powell as the 28th and 29th greatest screen villains, respectively, of all time as part of AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains. He provided the voice of the famous American Beef Council commercials that touted "Beef ... it's what's for dinner", from 1992 until his death. A "Mitchum's Steakhouse" is in Trappe, Maryland,[28] where Mitchum and his family lived from 1959 to 1965.


  • Gregory Monro (Director) (2017). James Stewart/Robert Mitchum : The Two Faces of America (Motion picture).




  1. ^ "Greatest Film Star Legends." Archived 2014-12-17 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved: March 20, 2015.
  2. ^ "The religious affiliation of Robert Mitchum: Great American actor." Archived 2012-12-15 at the Wayback Machine. Famous Methodists, June 24, 2005.
  3. ^ "Robert Mitchum, 79, Dies; Actor With Rugged Dignity". 2 July 1997. Archived from the original on 29 December 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018 – via
  4. ^ Server 2001, pp. 3–18.
  5. ^ a b Davidson, Bill (August 25, 1962). "The Many Moods of Robert Mitchum". Saturday Evening Post. Indianapolis, Indiana USA: Curtis Publishing Company: 58–70. 0048-9239. Of his clash with the law at Savannah [Georgia], Mitchum told me, 'I had hopped a freight train with about seventeen other kids and headed South. In my pocket I had thirty-eight dollars — all I had in the world. When we reached Savannah, I was cold and hungry. So I dropped off to get something to eat. The big fuzz grabbed me. "For what?" I asked. He grinned. "Vagrancy — we don't like Yankee bums around here." When I told him I had thirty-eight dollars, he just called me a so-and-so wise guy and belted me with his club and ran me in.' article pdf, publisher's website Archived 2013-07-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Biography: Robert Mitchum." Archived 2017-06-22 at the Wayback Machine. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 20, 2015.
  7. ^ Bugs Bunny-War Bonds, 1943, retrieved 2017-09-21
  8. ^ "Robert Mitchum Arrested with Two Movie Actresses in Marijuana Party Raid." Archived 2016-04-02 at the Wayback Machine. St. Petersburg Times, September 2, 1948.
  9. ^ "Mitchum images." Archived 2006-11-21 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved: October 10, 2012.
  10. ^ Mitchum's upcoming film Rachel and the Stranger was rushed to completion to take advantage of the publicity surrounding the arrest. Rachel and the Stranger at the American Film Institute Catalog
  11. ^ O'Steen 2002, p. 11.
  12. ^ Olson and Roberts 1997, p. 417.
  13. ^ Ramon, Alexander. "Part 2: The Dark Side: 100 Essential Male Film Performances." Archived 2010-02-18 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved: December 21, 2014.
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Great Movie: The Night of the Hunter." Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine. Chicago Sun-Times, April 20, 2010.
  15. ^ Roberts 2000, p. 208.
  16. ^ The Longest Day (1962) Turner Classic Movies Archived 2009-01-08 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved: March 20, 2015.
  17. ^ "The Night Fighters". Archived 2017-12-06 at the Wayback Machine. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 20, 2015.
  18. ^ Adams, Greg. "Robert Mitchum: That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings." Archived 2016-09-24 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved: March 20, 2015.
  19. ^ Robert Mitchum on being an actor in a 1971 interview. May 16, 2015. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  20. ^ a b c Maslin, Janet (March 12, 2001). "Books of the Times: The Swaggering Life of a Movie Idol". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 27, 2015.
  21. ^ a b "Actor Robert Mitchum, being sued for $30 million by..." UPI. January 27, 1984. Archived from the original on May 1, 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Mitchum Says He is 'sorry' About the 'misunderstanding' Caused by His Interview". 17 March 1983. Archived from the original on 27 July 2017.
  23. ^ "Dorothy Spence Mitchum, wife of actor Robert Mitchum for 57 Years, dead at 94." Retrieved: April 16, 2014.
  24. ^ Kian Mitchum Archived 2008-12-19 at the Wayback Machine. The Fashion Spot., April 28, 2007.
  25. ^ ": Mad, bad and dangerous to know." Archived 2012-01-10 at Wikiwix Byronic. Retrieved: October 10, 2012.
  26. ^ "Pin-up: Robert Mitchum." Archived 2013-05-24 at the Wayback Machine., October 22, 2011. Retrieved: October 10, 2012.
  27. ^ Baecker, Dirk. "The Reality of Motion Pictures." Archived 2016-03-07 at the Wayback Machine. MLN, Volume 111, Issue 3, April 1996, p. 568. Retrieved: September 26, 2013.
  28. ^ "Mitchum's Steakhouse" Archived 2011-09-05 at the Wayback Machine.,; retrieved October 10, 2012.


  • Mitchum, John. Them Ornery Mitchum Boys: The Adventures of Robert and John Mitchum. Pacifica, California: Creatures at Large, 1989. ISBN 978-0-940064-07-2.
  • Olson, James and Randy Roberts. John Wayne: American. Lincoln, Nebraska: Bison Books, 1997. ISBN 978-0-8032-8970-3.
  • O'Steen, Sam. Cut to the Chase: Forty-Five Years of Editing America's Favorite Movies. Los Angeles: Michael Wiese Productions, 2002. ISBN 978-1-55862-449-8.
  • Roberts, Jerry. Mitchum: In His Own Words. New York: Limelight Editions, 2000. ISBN 978-0-87910-292-0.
  • Server, Lee. Robert Mitchum: "Baby, I Don't Care". New York: St Martin's Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-312-28543-2.
  • Sound, Owen. TCM Film Guide: Leading Men: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actors of the Studio Era. San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8118-5467-2.
  • Tomkies, Mike. The Robert Mitchum Story: "It Sure Beats Working". New York: Ballantine Books, 1972. ISBN 978-0-491-00962-1.

External links

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