The actor that from an early age seemed to be doomed to a troubled life and suddenly found his place in life as an actor, becoming a Hollywood legend
Remembering Hollywood legend Robert Mitchum on the 106th anniversary of his birth
The Hollywood legend Robert Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on August 6 1917, son of a Norwegian immigrant and sea captain’s daughter. Mitchum became known in movies by playing rough and mysterious characters, but what some people may not know is that the actor had a problematic childhood and adolescence. Known as a prankster from a very young age, Mitchum often involved in mischief and fistfights which led him to be expelled from middle school for scuffling with the principal. Throughout his teenage years his hot headed personality didn’t cool down and at age 14 in Savannah, Georgia, he was arrested for vagrancy and put on a local chain gang. After moving to New York, once again he got into trouble and was expelled from Haaren High School. It seemed that the young Mitchum was destined to a troubled life, but things changed when he moved to California in 1936, and after working on several different jobs started to audition to acting roles. Initially as an extra and has his adventure into acting progressed, started also to have small speaking parts. During the 1940’s Robert Michum’s career as an actor started to take off, and it seemed he had finally found his vocation.
Mitchum was hired by Paramount Pictures to do a series of Western films playing villainous roles, which he became initially known for. In 1945, Robert Mitchum was one one of Hollywood’s most popular actors, and was lend to United Artists for a role in the 1945 film “The Story of G.I. Joe”, an instant critical and commercial success that gave Mitchum his only Academy Award nomination, in the category of Best Supporting Actor. During the mid 1940’s, Robert Mitchum starts to specialize on another genre of film, the then trendy “film noir”. His debut role on the genre was in the 1944 film “When Strangers Marry”. By 1948, after a string of hit movies, Mitchum had solidified his status as a established and successful actor, but trouble came back to his life when in that year he and actress Lila Leeds were arrested for possession of marijuana that same year. The word about Mitchum’s early life troubles with the law was out in Hollywood, and as an early marketing strategy, to profit on in it, the studio released his films immediately after his arrest, becoming box-office hits. During the 1950’s Robert Mitchum had solidified his status as a worldwide movie star, his name on the billboard called in audiences everywhere to watch his movies, and in 1954 he starred on one of his best well known films, “River of No Return” alongside Marilyn Monroe. He also appeared the following year in Charles Laughton’s only film as director, “The Night of the Hunter”. During the 1960’s he started to play increasingly darker characters roles, being the most notable as the menacing rapist Max Cady in the original 1962 “Cape Fear” movie. But as a movie star, Mitchum had now the luxury to cherry pick his roles, and during the decade, he passed on several opportunities of now famous and iconic roles, including in John Huston’s “The Misfits”, the Academy Award–winning “Patton”, and “Dirty Harry”, that solidified Clint Eastwood’s career.
Another side of Robert Mitchum that is less known it’s his music career, both as a singer and composer. He released a Calypso music influenced album through Capitol Records in 1957 “Calypso – is like so….” In 1967 he released another album, “That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings”, a Country music oriented album released by Nashville-based Monument Records that earned him Country radio hit songs, similar to “The Ballad of Thunder Road” and the top 10 single “Little Old Wine Drinker Me”. Robert Mitchum also notably co-wrote and composed the music for an oratorio which was produced by Orson Welles at the Hollywood Bowl. During the 1980’s the actor had a resurgence on his popularity among newer generations, appearing in popular TV series during the decade including “The Winds of War” and “Norht and South”. During the 1990’s he starred in the acclaimed Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” and also, in contrast to his role as the antagonist in the original “Cape Fear”, he starred as a police detective, in the 1992 successful Martin Scorsese’s remake. Robert Mitchum’s last role was in the 1995 Norwegian movie “Pakten”. On July 1, 1997, the actor passed away in Santa Barbara, California due to complications of lung cancer and emphysema. at age 79. The actor’s body was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea. Today, Robert Mitchum’s legacy and importance in film history remains untouchable, and he’s regarded by some critics as one of the finest actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Watch one of the most famous scenes of the 1947 movie “Out of the Past” featuring Robert Michum
Watch the trailer of the 1954 movie “River of No Return” starring Robert Michum alongside Marilyn Monroe
Listen to Robert Mitchum singing one of his hits “Thunder Road”, 1958
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