Home Biography Biography of Robert Mitchum

Biography of Robert Mitchum

Robert Charles Durman Mitchum

Biography of Robert Mitchum

Key Takeaways

  • Full Name: Robert Charles Durman Mitchum
  • Born: August 6, 1917, Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
  • Died: July 1, 1997, Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
  • Profession: Actor, Singer, Writer
  • Active Years: 1942–1997
  • Famous Works: “Out of the Past,” “The Night of the Hunter,” “Cape Fear”
  • Awards: National Board of Review Award for Best Actor, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor


  • Early Life: Difficult childhood, various odd jobs, and early encounters with the law.
  • Hollywood Entry: Began as a bit player, progressed to major roles in the 1940s.
  • Breakthrough Role: “The Story of G.I. Joe” (1945), earned an Academy Award nomination.
  • Film Noir Icon: Starred in classics like “Out of the Past” and “Crossfire.”
  • Versatility: Excelled in various genres including westerns, war films, and thrillers.
  • Singing Career: Released several albums, showing his talent beyond acting.
  • Personal Life: Married to Dorothy Spence, three children, struggled with substance abuse.
  • Legacy: Known for his rugged charm, deep voice, and screen presence, influenced generations of actors.

Robert Charles Durman Mitchum

Early Life

Robert Charles Durman Mitchum was born on August 6, 1917, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His father, James Mitchum, was a shipyard and railroad worker who tragically died in a train accident when Robert was just two years old. Following his father’s death, his mother, Ann Harriet Mitchum, moved the family to Delaware. Growing up, Mitchum had a rebellious streak. He frequently clashed with authority and was expelled from numerous schools. By the time he was a teenager, Mitchum had left home, traveling across the country and taking on various odd jobs to survive.

Childhood Struggles

  • Rebellious Nature: Mitchum was known for his defiance and troublemaking.
  • Early Jobs: Worked as a ditch digger, professional boxer, and even joined a carnival.
  • Legal Troubles: At 14, he was arrested for vagrancy, an early sign of his tumultuous relationship with the law.

Entry into Hollywood

Mitchum’s entry into Hollywood was as unconventional as his early life. After settling in Long Beach, California, he started working as a writer for a local theatre group. His good looks and charismatic personality eventually led to bit parts in films. His first notable role was in the film “Hoppy Serves a Writ” (1943), a Hopalong Cassidy western.

Climbing the Ladder

  • Initial Roles: Small parts in westerns and war films.
  • Breakthrough: “The Story of G.I. Joe” (1945) earned him critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
  • Signature Style: Mitchum’s laid-back, naturalistic style set him apart from his contemporaries.

Rise to Stardom

Mitchum’s career soared in the late 1940s and 1950s. He became a leading figure in the film noir genre, starring in iconic movies such as “Out of the Past” (1947) and “Crossfire” (1947). His portrayal of morally ambiguous characters with a sense of underlying menace became his trademark.

Film Noir Icon

  • “Out of the Past” (1947): Played Jeff Bailey, a private investigator with a dark past.
  • “Crossfire” (1947): Portrayed Sergeant Keeley, a role that showcased his depth as an actor.
  • Quote: “I have two kinds of acting. One on a horse and one off a horse.” – Robert Mitchum

Versatility in Roles

  • Westerns: “Blood on the Moon” (1948), “The Wonderful Country” (1959).
  • War Films: “The Enemy Below” (1957), “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison” (1957).
  • Thrillers: “Cape Fear” (1962), “The Night of the Hunter” (1955).

Personal Life and Challenges

Mitchum married Dorothy Spence in 1940, a union that lasted until his death. They had three children: James, Christopher, and Petrine. Despite his professional success, Mitchum’s personal life was marred by struggles with substance abuse and brushes with the law. He was famously arrested in 1948 for marijuana possession, a scandal that surprisingly did little to tarnish his career.

Family Life

  • Marriage: Mitchum remained married to Dorothy Spence for 57 years.
  • Children: His sons James and Christopher followed in his footsteps, becoming actors.
  • Substance Abuse: Mitchum’s battle with addiction was a well-known aspect of his life.

Legal Troubles

  • 1948 Arrest: Caught in a marijuana bust, served a brief jail sentence.
  • Public Image: Despite his legal issues, maintained a “bad boy” charm that captivated audiences.

Later Career and Legacy

Mitchum continued to work prolifically into the later years of his life. He received acclaim for his roles in “Farewell, My Lovely” (1975) and the miniseries “The Winds of War” (1983) and “War and Remembrance” (1988). His deep voice and rugged persona left an indelible mark on Hollywood.

Later Works

  • “Farewell, My Lovely” (1975): Played Philip Marlowe, earning praise for his performance.
  • Television: Starred in the epic miniseries “The Winds of War” and its sequel.
  • Final Roles: Continued to act until the late 1990s, his final film being “James Dean: Race with Destiny” (1997).

Awards and Honors

Robert Charles Durman Mitchum

Influence and Recognition

  • Quote: “I never changed anything, except my socks and my underwear.” – Robert Mitchum
  • Legacy: Mitchum’s influence is seen in the work of many contemporary actors. His ability to convey complex emotions with minimal dialogue set a new standard for screen acting.

Filmography Highlights

Year Film Title Role
1945 The Story of G.I. Joe Lt. Bill Walker
1947 Out of the Past Jeff Bailey
1955 The Night of the Hunter Rev. Harry Powell
1962 Cape Fear Max Cady
1975 Farewell, My Lovely Philip Marlowe
1983 The Winds of War (TV Miniseries) Victor “Pug” Henry

Discography Highlights

Year Album Title Notes
1957 Calypso – Is Like So… Debut album showcasing Mitchum’s singing talent.
1967 That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings A collection of country music tracks.


Robert Mitchum’s life was as multifaceted as the characters he portrayed on screen. From a troubled youth to a celebrated actor, Mitchum’s journey was marked by both personal struggles and professional triumphs. His contribution to the film industry remains unparalleled, with a legacy that continues to inspire actors and filmmakers.


#RobertMitchum, #ClassicHollywood, #FilmNoir, #MovieLegends, #CinemaHistory #Biography of Robert Mitchum


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here