The iconoclastic Robert Mitchum was born Robert Charles Durman Mitchum 99 years ago today in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Here are 10 RM Did-You-Knows:
- His father, a railroad and shipyard worker, died in a train accident when Mitchum was two. He was raised by his mother and stepfather, a British army major.
- Mitchum had issues with authority from an early age, and he spent much of his teens on the road. At 14, he was charged with vagrancy and spent time on a Georgia chain gang (he escaped).
- While living with his older sister in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, he was expelled from Haaren High School, at which point he traveled the country by riding the rails, working for the Civilian Conservation Corps and earning money as a boxer.
- He once worked as a ghostwriter for an astrologist (this delights us, by the way).
- He recorded several record albums, including a Calypso record titled Calypso — Is Like So…, and generally was not dubbed when he sang in a movie.
- Mitchum was arrested on September 1, 1948, for marijuana possession. He spent a week in the L.A. county jail and after being convicted, spent 43 days at a prison farm in Castaic, California. In 1951, the conviction was overturned, and many years later, Mitchum told TCM‘s Robert Osborne the arrest never happened, that it was all a publicity stunt. (What’s the truth? Your guess is as good as ours.)
- Though he was true to her at times only in his fashion, Mitchum and his wife, Dorothy, remained married for more than 57 years until his death in 1997.
- Mitchum was the voice of the “Beef…it’s what’s for dinner” television advertisements from 1992 until his death.
- Mitchum was known for passing on roles that later proved to be iconic, among them Gen. George S. Patton, played by George C. Scott in Patton, and Det. Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry, portrayed by Clint Eastwood.
- Mitchum was a big fan of Elvis Presley‘s early music and tried to sign him to appear in Thunder Road, but Col. Tom Parker‘s asking price was too steep for the independent production.
Happy birthday, Robert Mitchum, wherever you may be!