Robert Mitchum


Robert Charles Durman Mitchum (August 6, 1917 – July 1, 1997) was an American film actor and singer. Mitchum is largely remembered for his starring roles in several major works of the film noir style, and is considered a forerunner of the anti-heroes prevalent in film during the 1950s and '60s.

Early Life and Career

Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut to shipyard and railroad worker James Thomas Mitchum and Ann Harriet Gunderson, a Norwegian immigrant and sea captain's daughter. His father was a former soldier and known barroom brawler of Scots-Irish ancestry (on his father's side) and Blackfoot descent (on his mother's side). James Mitchum was crushed to death in a railyard accident when Mitchum was eighteen months old, leaving Ann to find work as a linotype operator at a newspaper.

Throughout Robert's childhood, he was known as a prankster, often involved in fistfights and mischief. When he was 12, Ann sent Robert to live with his grandparents in Felton, Delaware, where he was promptly expelled from his middle school for scuffling with a principal. A year later, in 1930, he moved in with his older sister, waitress and stage actress Julie (originally Annette) Mitchum, in New York's Hell's Kitchen. After being expelled from Haaran High School, he left his sister and traveled throughout the country on railroad cars, taking a number of jobs including a ditch-digger for the Civilian Conservation Corps and a professional boxer. He experienced numerous adventures during his years as one of the Depression era's "wild boys of the road." In Savannah, Georgia he was arrested for vagrancy and put on a local chain gang. By Mitchum's own account, he escaped and returned to his family in Delaware. It was during this time, while recovering from injuries that nearly lost him a leg, that he met the woman he would marry, a teenaged Dorothy Spence. He soon went back on the road, eventually riding the rails to California.

Mitchum arrived in Long Beach, California in 1936, staying again with his sister Julie. Soon the rest of the Mitchum family joined them in Long Beach. It was sister Julie who convinced Robert to join the local theater guild with her. In his years with the Players Guild of Long Beach, he made a living as a stagehand and occasional bit player in plays. 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 a talent for poetry to work writing song lyrics and monologues for his sister Julie's nightclub performances. In 1940 he returned East to marry Dorothy, taking her back to California. He remained a footloose character until the birth of their first child, Jim, nicknamed Josh (two more children would follow, Christopher and Petrine). Robert then got a steady job as a machine operator with the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.

An apparent nervous breakdown from this encounter with conformity led him to look for work as an actor or extra in movies. An agent he had met got him an interview with the producer of the Hopalong Cassidy series of B-westerns; he was hired to play the villain in several films in the series between 1942 and 1943. He continued to find further 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 found himself groomed for B Western stardom in a series of Zane Grey adaptations.

Following the moderately successful western Nevada, Mitchum was loaned out from RKO to United Artists for the William Wellman-helmed The Story of G.I. Joe. In the film, he portrayed war-weary officer Bill Walker, 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. At the 1946 Academy Awards, the film was nominated for four Oscars, including Mitchum's only nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He finished the year off with a western (West of the Pecos) and another war film (Till the End of Time), before transitioning into a genre that came to define both Mitchum's career and screen persona: film noir.

Work in Film Noir

Mitchum would become a signature actor in the style of film known as film noir (a style used in many genres but most commonly in gangster and crime movies). His first entry into this world of dark crime stories was the well-regarded B-movie, When Strangers Marry, about a psychotic serial killer. One of Mitchum's early film noir outings, Undercurrent, 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). The ill-received film was Vincente Minnelli's first and last film noir as a director. John Brahm's The Locket (1946) featured Mitchum as a bitter ex-husband to Laraine Day's femme fatale, while the Raoul Walsh-helmed Pursued (1947) combined the western and film noir genres, with Mitchum's character trying to remember his past and find those responsible for killing his family. Crossfire, also released in 1947 featured Mitchum as a member of a group of soldiers, one of whom killed a Jew. It featured themes of anti-semitism and the failings of military training. The film, directed by Edward Dmytryk, was one of the most critically acclaimed of the year, garnering five Academy Award nominations.

Following Crossfire, Robert Mitchum starred in what was arguably the definitive film of his career, Out of the Past directed by Jacques Tourneur and benefiting from the cinematography of Nicholas Musuraca. Mitchum played Jeff Markham, a small-town gas station owner whose unfinished business with gambler Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) and one of the most memorable of all femmes fatales, Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer), comes back to haunt him. Though the film was ignored by most critics upon its release, the film was a modest box office hit and has steadily gained critical praise from both film journalists and filmmakers since its release. Mitchum was photographed again by Musuraca in the Robert Wise "psychological western" Blood on the Moon the following year.

Mitchum's cynical, mischievous attitude continued through adulthood and led him to shrug off fame as a fluke. On the set, he often played pranks on fellow actors and crew. His expulsion from 1955's Blood Alley is frequently attributed to his pranks, especially one in which he reportedly threw the film's transportation manager into San Francisco Bay. In August 1948, after a string of successful films for RKO, he was arrested by narcotics officers for marijuana possession and sentenced to 60 days at a Castaic, California prison farm. The accident did little to affect his career in the long term, but was seen as an embarrassment by his studio, who ordered Mitchum to clean up his act. The conviction was later overturned by the Los Angeles court and District Attorney's office on January 31, 1951 with the following statement, after it was exposed as a set-up.

"After an exhaustive investigation of the evidence and testimony presented at the trial, the court orders that the verdict of guilty be set aside and that a plea of not guilty be entered and that the information or complaint be dismissed."

Despite troubles with the law and his studio, the 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 interested in gaining the hand of Loretta Young, the indentured servant and wife of William Holden, while the John Steinbeck adaptation The Red Pony as a trusted cowhand to a ranching family.

Robert Mitchum returned to true film noir in 1949's The Big Steal, pairing Mitchum and Jane Greer once again in an early Don Siegel film. In Where Danger Lives (1950) he played a concussion-injured nurse in a love triangle with mentally unbalanced Faith Domergue and cuckolded Claude Rains. The Racket was a noir remake of the early crime drama The Racket and featured Mitchum as a police captain fighting corruption in his precinct. The Josef von Sternberg film Macao (1952) saw Mitchum a victim of mistaken identity at an exotic resort casino, playing opposite Jane Russell. Otto Preminger's Angel Face saw the first of three collaborations between Mitchum and British stage actress Jean Simmons. In the film, Simmons plays an insane heiress who plans to use young ambulance driver Mitchum to kill for her.

Career in the '50s and '60s

Though Mitchum would continue to star in a number of crime dramas, some classified within the film noir genre, 1955 marked his last true noir outing and his first film as a freelance actor, the Charles Laughton helmed The Night of the Hunter. Many considered this to be Mitchum's best performance. Following a series of conventional westerns and films noir, including the Marilyn Monroe vehicle River of No Return (1954), The Night of the Hunter would become one of the landmark films of the decade. Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, the film noir thriller starred Mitchum as a psychotic criminal posing as a preacher to find money hidden by his cellmate in the cellmate's home. The film remains one of the most chilling and suspenseful thrillers of the decade, though it was a critical and commercial failure upon its first release. While The Night of the Hunter was a box office flop which went on to become critically acclaimed decades afterward, Stanley Kramer's melodrama Not as a Stranger, also released in 1955, was a box office hit for Mitchum, which has been largely forgotten today. 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.

Following a succession of average westerns and the poorly received Foreign Intrigue (1956), Mitchum starred in the first of three screen collaborations with British actress Deborah Kerr. The intriguing John Huston war drama Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison starred Mitchum as a marine corporal shipwrecked on a Pacific Island only to discover his sole companion is a nun, Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr). The character study centers on the relationship between the two as they fight for survival from 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. Mitchum and Kerr were paired again in 1960, first for the critically acclaimed Fred Zinnemann film, The Sundowners, 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. He was teamed with both Kerr and previous leading lady Jean Simmons as well as Cary Grant for the extremely offbeat Stanley Donen ensemble comedy The Grass Is Greener the same year.

Mitchum's performance as the menacing southern rapist Max Cady in 1962's Cape Fear brought him even more attention and furthered his renown as 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 was John Huston's The Misfits, the last film of its stars Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, the Academy Award-winning Patton, and Clint Eastwood's breakthrough film Dirty Harry. The most notable of his films later 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 (1966), 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.

Music career

One of the lesser known aspects of Robert Mitchum's career was his forays into music. His voice had long been used instead of the professional singers when characters portrayed by Mitchum sang in his films. Notable productions featuring Mitchum's own singing voice included Rachel and the Stranger (1948), River of No Return (1954) and The Night of the Hunter (1955). After hearing traditional calypso music and meeting artists such as Mighty Sparrow and Lord Invader while filming Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison in the Caribbean island of Tobago, he recorded Calypso — Is Like So . . . in March of 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 the film Thunder Road, titled "The Ballad of Thunder Road." The country-styled song became a modest hit for Mitchum, reaching #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.

Though 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 ten hit at country radio, reaching #9 there, and crossed over onto mainstream radio, where it peaked at #96. Its follow-up, "You Deserve Each Other," also charted on the Billboard Country Singles Chart.

Later career and death

Robert Mitchum made a departure from his typical screen persona with the David Lean classic Ryan's Daughter in 1970. In the critically acclaimed film, he starred as Charles Shaughnessy, a mild-mannered schoolmaster in World War I era Ireland. 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 passed over. George C. Scott won the award for his performance in Patton, a project which Mitchum had passed over for Ryan's Daughter.

The 1970s, however, saw Mitchum in a number of well-received crime dramas. The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) saw the actor playing an aging hoodlum caught between the Feds and his criminal friends. Sydney Pollack's The Yakuza (1975) transplanted the typical film noir story arc to the Japanese underworld. Mitchum's stint as an aging Philip Marlowe in the Raymond Chandler adaptation, Farewell, My Lovely (1975), was well-received by audiences and critics. He also appeared in 1976's Midway, about the World War II battle of the same name. Reprising the Marlowe role in 1978's The Big Sleep proved a mistake, however, as Michael Winner took the film at once closer to the source material and farther away from its spirit and context, setting the film in modern day London.

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

Robert Mitchum expanded into the medium of television with the 1983 miniseries The Winds of War. The big-budget Herman Wouk adaptation aired on ABC and starred Mitchum as "Pug" Henry, a naval officer and examined the events leading up to America's involvement in World War II. He followed it in 1988 with War and Remembrance, which followed America through the war. The same year, he returned to the big screen for a memorable supporting role in the Bill Murray A Christmas Carol interpolation, Scrooged.

Though Mitchum continued to appear in films throughout the 1990s, such as Tombstone and Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, the actor gradually slowed his workrate. His last film appearance was in the television biopic, James Dean: Race with Destiny. His last starring role had been in the 1995 Norwegian movie Pakten, a final nod to his Norwegian ancestry. He died on July 1, 1997 in Santa Barbara, California due to complications of lung cancer and emphysema. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy Spence Mitchum, and actor sons, James Mitchum, Christopher Mitchum, and daughter Petrina (Trina) Mitchum. His grandchildren, Bentley Mitchum and Carrie Mitchum, are also actors. In 1991, he won a lifetime achievement award from the National Board of Review and the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globe Awards in 1992. It had been widely predicted for at least a decade that his eventual death would spark a huge fascination with his film canon, but James Stewart died the very next day, immediately eclipsing Mitchum's death in the mainstream media.

Regardless, Mitchum is today venerated by critics as one of the finest actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Noted critic Roger Ebert called him 'the soul of Film Noir'.

Robert Mitchum collage by Meredy


Academy Awards

1946 Nominated Oscar Best Actor in a Supporting Role for: Story of G.I. Joe (1945)

BAFTA Awards

1958 Nominated BAFTA Film Award Best Foreign Actor for: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)

Golden Apple Awards

1950 Won Sour Apple Least Cooperative Actor

Golden Boot Awards

1994 --- Golden Boot ---

Golden Globes

1992 Won Cecil B. DeMille Award ---

Laurel Awards

1958 Second Place Golden Laurel Top Male Action Star for: The Enemy Below (1957)
1960 Nominated Golden Laurel Top Male Dramatic Performance for: Home from the Hill (1960) 4th place. Top Male Star 15th place.
1962 Nominated Golden Laurel Top Male Star 6th place.
1963 Nominated Golden Laurel Top Action Performance for: The Longest Day (1962) 5th place.
1967 Nominated Golden Laurel Top Male Star 15th place.

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

1992 --- Career Achievement Award ---

National Board of Review

1960 Won NBR Award Best Actor for: Home from the Hill (1960) also for The Sundowners (1960).
1991 --- Career Achievement Award ---

San Sebastián International Film Festival

1993 --- Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award ---

ShoWest Convention

1978 --- Lifetime Achievement Award ---

Walk of Fame

January 16, 1984 --- Star on the Walk of Fame It's located at 6240 Hollywood Boulevard, across the street from the Pantages Theater.


He was going to play Old Man Clanton in the movie Tombstone but got injured and just did the narration instead.

In 1948, he, along with actress Lila Leeds, was arrested for possession of marijuana. The arrest was the result of a sting operation designed to capture other Hollywood partiers, as well, but Mitchum and Leeds didn't receive the tip-off. Mitchum spent 60 days in the local lock-up, with Life magazine right there snapping photos of him mopping up in his prison uniform. The arrest became the inspiration for the later film She Shoulda Said 'No'!, which starred Leeds.

He was reputed to have a photographic memory.

While Mitchum was in Japan filming The Yakuza, some real-life Japanese gangsters offered to take care of anyone who gave him a hard time.

He is mentioned in the song "The Fun Machine Took a Sh%# and Died" by Queens of the Stone Age.

He is mentioned in the Velvet Underground song "New Age."

In the Internet movie "The Cloak" by Jason Steele, the secondary character is "the disembodied head of film noir legend Robert Mitchum."

Nicknames: Bob, Mitch, Old Rumple Eyes

Sidelines: Played the saxophone and wrote poetry.

Briefly served in the United States Army during World War II, under service number 39 744 068, from April 12, 1945 to October 11, 1945.

Was one of four actors (with Jack Nicholson, Bette Davis, and Faye Dunaway) to have two villainous roles ranked in the American Film Institute's 100 years of The Greatest Heroes and Villains, as Max Cady in Cape Fear at #28 and as Reverend Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter at #29.

Because Charles Laughton had a personal dislike for children, Mitchum actually directed his child co-stars for the whole shoot of The Night of the Hunter.

He was voted the 61st Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.

Was a close friend of Richard Egan and served as a pallbearer at his funeral in 1987.

Was named #23 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends by the American Film Institute.

Great-grandfather of Cappy Van Dien and Grace Van Dien.

Turned down the lead role of Gen. George S. Patton Jr. in Patton (1970), allegedly because he believed he would ruin the film due to his indifference. During a Turner Classic Movies interview with Robert Osborne, Mitchum said that he knew the movie could be a great one due to the script, but that the studio would want to concentrate on battles and tanks moving around on screen rather than on the character of Patton. Mitchum believed that with himself in the role, the movie would turn out mediocre; what was needed was a passionate actor who would fight his corner to keep the focus on Patton, an actor like George C. Scott, whom Mitchum recommended to the producers.

Treated for alcoholism at the Betty Ford Center in 1984.

Addressed the Republican National Convention in 1992.

He was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea by wife Dorothy and neighbor Jane Russell. At Mitchum's insistence, no memorial service was held.

His performance as Rev. Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter (1955) is ranked #71 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.

He had a longstanding dislike of fellow tough guy actors Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower would never allow any of Mitchum's movies to be played in the White House, due to the actor's convictions for drugs.

Turned down Burt Lancaster's role as an aging gangster in Atlantic City (1980). Mitchum had just had a face-lift and told the producers he was only playing forty-five.

Replaced Burt Lancaster in Maria's Lovers (1984) after the elder actor was forced to undergo emergency quadruple heart bypass surgery.

Though respectful of Robert De Niro's talent, Mitchum was amused by the young Method actor's habit of remaining in character all day as film studio chief Monroe Stahr during the filming of The Last Tycoon (1976). Mitchum gave De Niro the nickname "Kid Monroe," and made many jokes about him with the older actors on the set like Ray Milland and Dana Andrews.


"Movies bore me; especially my own."

"Mitchum can, simply by being there, make almost any other actor look like a hole in the screen." -- David Lean

"On the surface he is irresponsible and vague and yes - wacky. Underneath he knows the score as few men in Hollywood do." -- Edward Dmytryk

"There are all kinds of rumors about me. And they're all true, every one of them. You can make up some if you want."

"People can't make up their minds whether I'm the greatest actor in the world - or the worst. Matter of fact, neither can I. It's been said I underplay so much, I could have stayed home. But I must be good at my job. Or they wouldn't haul me around the world at these prices."

"I, too, am a devotee of Robert Mitchum. His persona always expresses wonderful individuality." -- Lizabeth Scott

"I've still got the same attitude I had when I started. I haven't changed anything but my underwear."

"Years ago, I saved up a million dollars from acting - a lot of money then - and I spent it all on a horse farm in Tucson. Now when I go down there, I look at the place and I realize my whole acting career adds up to a million dollars worth of horseshit."

"With my shamed sad hope in my telltale eyes - And the fleet fears trapped within my breast - There is no last mercy - There are no last lies - For my sweet dumb dreaming is confessed." -- A poem for Dorothy

"I'm a poor husband and a good father."

"Essentially, I attribute my success to my skeleton, to my low voice, to my broken nose and to my Bulgarian warrior walk. That's enough. Also, I have an air of being the average guy. I'm not like Brando, who makes guys jealous. When I appear on the screen, guys think: 'If he's become a star, I can hope for anything.'"

"Bob is one of the best actors in the world. In addition he can imitate any accent there is....He has great talent. He'd make the best Macbeth of any actor living. All his tough talk is a blind, you know. He's a literate, gracious, kind man, with wonderful manners, and he speaks beautifully - when he wants too. He's a very tender man and a very real gentleman. You know he's really terribly shy. I can tell you one thing: he won't thank you for destroying the image he has built up as a defense....He's one of my very favorite people in the whole world. I can't praise him too much." -- Charles Laughton

"I'm not glamour-conscious. I try to get the scene finished in one take, so it'll be cheap and quick and I can go home."

"Trouble lies in sullen pools along the road I've taken - Sightless windows stare the empty street - No love beckons me save that which I've forsaken - The anguish of my solitude is sweet." -- poem written by Mitchum at age 15

"I started out to be a sex fiend but couldn't pass the physical."

"He writes his poetry and his songs and tells his stories - some true, some not. It doesn't matter because they're all funny. But he is a complete anachronism. He claims he doesn't care about acting, but he's an extraordinary actor. He's one of that group in Hollywood who are such extraordinary personalities that people forget they're marvelous actors. -- Vincent Price

"I think when producers have a part that's hard to cast, they say, 'Send for Mitchum, he'll do anything.' I'll play Polish gays, women, midgets, anything."

"I"ve always had an intense dislike for anything that detracts from the feminine qualities of a woman, and I look upon a girdle as such a device."

"Only difference between me and other actors is I've spent more time in jail."

"It doesn't do any good to complain. Half of the people don't care about your problems and the other half are glad you got 'em."

"Every two or three years I knock off for a while. That way I'm constantly the new girl in the whorehouse."

"I never take any notice of reviews-unless a critic has thought up some new way of describing me. That old one about my lizard eyes and anteater nose and the way I sleep my way through pictures is so hackneyed now."

"Listen. I got three expressions: looking left, looking right and looking straight ahead."

"People think I have an interesting walk. Hell, I'm just trying to hold my gut in."

"I gave up being serious about making pictures around the time I made a film with Greer Garson and she took 125 takes to say no."

"This is not a tough job. You read a script. If you like the part and the money is OK, you do it. Then you remember your lines. You show up on time. You do what the director tells you to do. When you finish, you rest and then go on to the next part. That's it."

"The only effect that I ever noticed from smoking marijuana was a sort of mild sedative, a release of tension when I was overworking. It never made me boisterous or quarrelsome. If anything, it calmed me and reduced my activity."

"Maybe love is like luck. You have to go all the way to find it."

"I have two acting styles: with and without a horse."

"I never changed anything, except my socks and my underwear. And I never did anything to glorify myself or improve my lot. I took what came and did the best I could with it."

When Mitchum, who served time for marijuana possission, was asked what it was like in jail, he replied, "It's like Palm Springs without the riff-raff."

"You've got to realize that a Steve McQueen performance lends itself to monotony."

"Not that I'm a complete whore, understand. There are movies I won't do for any amount. I turned down Patton (1970) and I turned down Dirty Harry (1971). Movies that piss on the world. If I've got five bucks in my pocket, I don't need to make money that f***ing way, daddy."

"John Wayne had four inch lifts in his shoes. He had the overheads on his boat accommodated to fit him. He had a special roof put in his station wagon. The son of a bitch, they probably buried him in his goddamn lifts."

"There just isn't any pleasing some people. The trick is to stop trying."

Asked his opinion of the Vietnam War in 1968: "If they won't listen to reason over there, just kill 'em. Nuke 'em all."

"Sure I was glad to see John Wayne win the Oscar ... I'm always glad to see the fat lady win the Cadillac on TV, too."

"I've survived because I work cheap and don't take up too much time."

"You know what the average Robert Mitchum fan is? He's full of warts and dandruff and he's probably got a hernia too, but he sees me up there on the screen and he thinks if that bum can make it, I can be president."

"I kept the same suit for six years - and the same dialog. We just changed the title of the picture and the leading lady."

"I came back from the war and ugly heroes were in."

"Young actors love me. They think if that big slob can make it, there's a chance for us."

When asked why in his mid-sixties he took on the arduous task of starring in an 18-hour mini-series The Winds of War (1983): "It promised a year of free lunches."

"How do I keep fit? I lay down a lot."

"The best, my favorite... Life would be kind if I could live it with Deborah around." (regarding three-time co-star Deborah Kerr)

Asked his opinion of Method actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson: "They are all small."

Robert Mitchum collage by Meredy


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