His life was a leaf that the wind dragged from one sewer to another. Spree, marijuana and drunk. He swore he was never an actor and had 100 movies to prove it; for years he wore the same Burberry raincoat and the same dialogues, only the title of the film and the lead actress changed.
Less educated than doggy star Rin-Tin-Tin, he reigned supreme in film noir with his sleepy pimp look and cheap lifesavers, thanks to the downcast eye and crooked nose he won in a boxing match.
It was Commissioner JP Hara, in The Golden , Detective Philip Marlowe, in Bye doll ; the psychopath Max Cady in Cape of Fear or the false preacher Harry Powel, in Hunter’s night . The latter ended it by punching and arguing with director Charles Laughton, upset that the actor drank and used drugs.
In his time, critical eunuchs called him inexpressive, laconic and having only two interpretive registers: with horse or without horse. Robert Charles Durman Mitchum never argued with them; as I said: “My difference with other actors is that they have spent less time in jail than I have.”
He also didn’t lie about that because at age 14 he fled his native Bridgeport, Connecticut, and hopped on a freight train. He traveled all over the United States jumping from wagon to wagon.
Police caught him in Savannah, Georgia, and dumped his bones in prison; They accused him of vagrancy and spent several weeks in chains with several inmates, but managed to escape and returned to his mother, Ann Gunderson.
While Robert was brooding his next adventures he met and fell in love with Dorothy Spence; At 23 they married and lived together for 67 years.
Unable to resist the call of the street, he boarded another railroad; He led the life of a rebellious young man, unstable and without destiny.
He did what he could to half eat: miner, gravedigger, dishwasher, laborer, gigolo in a bar of evil living; he cleaned ship decks on all fours, was assistant to an astrologer and became a boxer. He fought in 27 fights and left the ring, because a beating left him feeling sleepy and lost.
At the requests of his sister Julie, he settled in California, there he got a permanent job as an usher in a movie theater and later in an amateur theater. During the day he worked in an airplane factory and quit because the stress almost left him blind.
Whether by chance, necessity, or looking for women, he got into the movies and became an actor. He never had a vocation for it and, according to Robert, he always followed the Rin-Tin-Tin method: “He never cares about motivation, concepts and all that rubbish.”
He was descended from a family of Irishmen; He had a tough childhood and a difficult youth due to his character as a thug. They gave birth to him in Connecticut, on August 6, 1917, and when he was two years old, his father – James Thomas – was killed by a train in Charleston, South Carolina.
The mother, Ann, married Lt. Hugh Cunningham Morris and they raised Julie, John, and Carole. When the children grew up she worked as a linotype designer.
From a young age Robert was a joker and a brawler; To keep him away from fights and mischief, Ann sent him to live with his grandparents in Delaware. He barely lasted a few months at school; They expelled him for using the director’s hat as a latrine. Despite this, he was a restless, intelligent boy and a voracious reader.
The days of the Great Depression were spent wandering through different states, like thousands of unemployed. This is how he spent his youth, until at age 25 a talent scout convinced him to try his luck at a theater in Long Beach, California.
His colossal physique, rude manners, deep voice, and sulky face made a place for him in role-playing roles, where he spoke with his fists or weapons.
He stopped the Hollywood peddlers in their tracks, who tried to change his last name Mitchum to a more “artistic” one; he refused because it was a tribute to the father he never knew.
In 1943 he performed for the first time in Hopalong Cassidy , a series of cowboy movies. Charged $ 100 per week and per War and memories , from 1988, they paid him a million dollars.
From 1946 to 1957, he played ruffians, soldiers, private detectives, vagabonds and antiheroes with high doses of cynicism, the same one he displayed in his private life.
The police arrested him in 1948 – with his friend Lila Leeds – for drug possession and he spent two months locked up. Magazine Life He photographed him in a prison suit and sweeping the floor of the prison.
Thanks to magnate Howard Hughes he returned to the stage. The public adored him for his lack of glamour , and did not stop working, smoking weed, drinking and women until the day of his death, July 1, 1997, at the age of 79.
He was never a star, because he did not like being taken over by his cold and distant appearance, or his dry, hard, angular face with a dimple on his chin. Lacking acting talent, he played himself, memorized his lines, and acted like a movie animal.
Robert Mitchum never took himself seriously, never listened to himself, scorned the hypocritical environment of Hollywood and acknowledged that “Everything that has been written about me is true.”
He was always a vagabond. He died as he lived: without regret and without remorse.
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Black Page Robert Mitchum: The Poker of Death