Robert Mitchum: Bad Boy and Unlikely Hero

Born on August 6, 1917, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, this bad boy screen legend had an unlikely start in life. One of two children, his father was a railroad worker who died in a train accident when he was two years old. His mother and stepfather who was a British Army major and perhaps the first object of his contempt for authority raised him and his brother, John. He was a rebellious and truculent teen and he spent many of his early years on the open road. At the age of 14, he was charged with vagrancy and sentenced to a Georgia chain gang from which he escaped. Before becoming an actor, he held a variety of odd jobs including one at Lockheed Aircraft where job stress caused him to suffer from temporary blindness.

He joined an amateur theater company in Long Beach, California, and began to obtain small roles in films. In 1945 his performance in “The Story of GI Joe” earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and he became a star very quickly. He was soon seen in many film noir although he was equally adept in westerns and romantic dramas. He became an icon; a position not at all tarnished and perhaps even enhanced by a 1949 prison term for marijuana usage. He was a tough bad boy and women loved him.

Although he was voted the 61st Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly, in 1970 he turned down the role of General George S. Patton in “Patton” because he believed he would ruin the film.

He was treated for alcoholism at the Betty Ford Center in 1984 and died one day before Jimmy Stewart (July 1, 1997). Always the bad boy, he remained with his wife, Dorothy, for sixty years, despite numerous affairs. He insisted on no memorial service at his funeral, but his ashes were scattered at sea by his wife and neighbor, Jane Russell.
He was of Scottish, Norwegian, Irish and possibly Native-American descent.

What are some of YOUR favorite Robert Mitchum movies?

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About Marjorie Dorfman

Marjorie Dorfman is a freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of New York University School of Education, she now lives in Doylestown, PA, with quite a few cats that keep her on her toes at all times. Originally a writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non-fiction writing in the last decade. Many of her stories have been published in various small presses throughout the country during the last twenty years. Her book of stories, "Tales For A Dark And Rainy Night", reflects her love and respect for the horror and ghost genre.