Saturday, November 4, 2023

The Only Celebrity Grave in Delaware is Empty


"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."

Robert Charles Durman Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on August 6, 1917. His father was a railroad worker who was crushed to death in a 1919 worksite accident.  His mother, who was pregnant with her third child at the time, relocated the family to South Carolina, before ultimately returning to Connecticut.

To say that Mitchum had a troubled childhood would be an understatement.  He was known as a prankster and was frequently in trouble at school.  By the time he was 16, he was already sentenced to serve on a Georgia chain gang after being arrested for vagrancy.  By his own admission, he escaped from captivity and relocated to Delaware, where he met 14-year-old Dorothy Spence, a girl he would ultimately marry and spend the rest of his life with.

Mitchum landed in Hollywood in 1936.  He rose to prominence following an Oscar nomination for one of his best-known roles in the film The Story of G.I. Joe (1945).  Throughout his career, he'd star in a number of box-office hits, including River of No Return (1954), Thunder Road (1958), which Mitchum produced, and the original Cape Fear (1962). He is also widely remembered his for role as U.S. Navy Captain Victor "Pug" Henry in the 16-hour television mini-series The Winds of War (1983) and it's 30-hour 1988 sequel War and Remembrance.

A lifelong smoker, Mitchum's health had deteriorated by the 1990s.  He ultimately died of lung cancer and emphysema on July 1, 1997.  He was 79 years old.

Robert Mitchum was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.  Dorothy returned to her hometown of Camden, Delaware, where she eventually passed in 2014.  She was laid to rest in her family's plot at the Odd Fellows Cemetery.  A cenotaph honoring Robert was placed next to her.

Rest in peace.

  • There are a number of Robert Mitchum biographies for sale.  Check out this listing on Amazon.

  • Film critic Roger Ebert declared Mitchum his favorite movie star and the soul of film noir.

  • Mitchum had a photographic memory that allowed him to read a script and memorize his lines instantly.  As such, he rarely rehearsed.

  • In 1966, Mitchum tried his hand at singing and released the album "That Man Robert Mitchum Sings."  You can hear it in its entirety on YouTube.

  • In 1971, Mitchum was offered the role of Popeye Doyle in The French Connection, which he declined, finding the storyline offensive.  The role ultimately went to Gene Hackman, earning him an Academy Award for Best Actor.

  • Mitchum provided the voice-over narration for the 1993 film classic Tombstone.  He was originally hired for a much more significant on-screen role in the film, but script changes provided by Kurt Russell pushed him out of the picture.  Here's a sample of that narration.

  • Mitchum also narrated those "Beef - It's What's for Dinner" commercials back in the 1990s.

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