Robert Mitchum was one of the most underrated movie stars in Hollywood history. Mitchum was Hollywood's original bad boy, and is best known for his many tough guy roles. Mitchum was even jailed in the 1950s for possession of marijuana, which seemed to add to his appeal as a rebel and outsider. During his career, Mitchum starred in over one hundred movies, most of them of the "film noir" style. Best known for his roles in the films, "Cape Fear", "The Night of the Hunter", "Thunder Road", "The Sundowners", and "Out of the Past", Mitchum is considered by critics to be one of the founding fathers of the anti-hero movement that would dominate Hollywood cinema during the 1960s and 70s.
Mitchum was born on August 6, 1917 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His father, James Thomas Mitchum, was a shipyard and railroad worker, was killed in a railyard accident when Robert was only 18 months old. Robert's mother, Ann Harriet Gunderson, was a Norwegian immigrant, and the daughter of a sea captain. Throughout his childhood Robert Mitchum frequently got into fights with other boys in his neighborhood, his mother even sent him to live with his grandparents in Felton, Delaware when he was 12 years old. While Mitchum was in school in Felton, he was expelled after he got into a fight with the school's principal. Mitchum's rebellious streak continued into his teens when he was arrested for vagrancy in Savannah, Georgia, and he was forced to work on the chain gang. Mitchum escaped from the chain gang, and returned to Delaware, where he would meet his future wife, Dorothy Spence. Mitchum would eventually hop a train out west to California.
Mitchum's acting career would lead to his being honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1992. His last film appearance would be in the television biopic of James Dean entitled "James Dean: Race With Destiny", which also starred Mitchum's granddaughter, Carrie Mitchum. Robert Mitchum would die on July 1, 1997 in Santa Barbara, California from complications of lung cancer.
This report prepared by Nathaniel Ford