He was born Robert Charles Duran Mitchum in Bridgeport, CT, and as a boy was frequently in trouble, behavior that was perhaps related to his father’s death when Mitchum was quite young. He left home in his teens. Mitchum was famous for fabricating fantastic tales about his life, something he jokingly encouraged others to do too. If he is to be believed, he spent his early years doing everything from mining coal, digging ditches, and ghost writing for astrologer Carroll Richter, to fighting 27 bouts as a prizefighter. He also claimed to have escaped from a Georgia chain gang six days after he was arrested for vagrancy. Mitchum settled down in 1940 and married Dorothy Spence. They moved to Long Beach, CA, and he found work as a drop-hammer operator with Lockheed Aircraft. The job made Mitchum ill so he quit. He next started working with the Long Beach Theater Guild in 1942 and this led to his becoming a movie extra and bit player, primarily in war movies and Westerns, but also in the… read more
Robert Mitchum is the only actor I ever wanted to be. He was magnificently self-assured, smart, funny, worldly, tough, even more than Bogart. I think his screen image reflected what he was as a person, which may be why he took the screen so commandingly. He had all that wild personal history behind his every gesture. Yet his varied experience allowed him to play underdogs convincingly too. ("The Lusty Men.") As with any great screen actor, you only had to look into his eyes to see his character's situation and attitude clearly. He was also a great partner to his leading ladies. He challenged them with his bravado and his straightforwardness. He wasn't interested in games or, at least, he wasn't fooled by them. He is irreplaceable.