Robert Mitchum

Robert Mitchum

Mentioned by name as part of The Velvet Underground song "New Age" (from the 1970 album "Loaded").

Mentioned in the song "One More Arrow" by Elton John.

Mitchum once said that Rev. Harry Powell, the murderous villain he played in The Night of the Hunter (1955), was his favorite role.

Mitchum was cast by Howard Hughes in Holiday Affair (1949) because Hughes felt that Mitchum needed to "soften" his image after his marijuana conviction and prison sentence.

Mitchum was in poor health while filming "The Winds of War" (1983), and once again there was talk of retirement. He filmed Maria's Lovers (1984) despite suffering from a solid case of pneumonia.

Presented with a People's Choice Award backstage by Charlton Heston for "War and Remembrance" (1988) during the 1989 ceremony in Beverly Hills, California.

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

Referenced by name in the song "The Fun Machine Took a Sh-t and Died" by Queens of the Stone Age.

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

Sidelines: Played the saxophone and wrote poetry.

The 60-year-old Mitchum impressed Oliver Reed, Britain's legendary hellraiser, by drinking a whole bottle of gin in 55 minutes on the set of The Big Sleep (1978).

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.

Treated for alcoholism at the Betty Ford Center in 1984.

Turned down Gene Hackman's role as drug-busting cop Popeye Doyle in The French Connection (1971) because he found the story offensive.

Turned down the lead role of Gen. George S. Patton 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.

Turned down the leading role in Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece The Wild Bunch (1969), which went to his old friend William Holden, and made 5 Card Stud (1968). His excuse was they were both westerns.

Turned down the role that eventually went to Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones (1958). Mitchum, a real-life veteran of a Southern chain gang, didn't believe the premise that a black man and a white man would be chained together and said that such a thing would never happen in the South. Over the years this reason was corrupted to the point where many people now believe Mitchum turned down the role because he didn't want to be chained to a black man, an absolute falsehood. Curtis repeated the inaccurate story in his autobiography, but later recanted after Mitchum's real reason was explained to him.

Visited his son Christopher Mitchum on the set of Rio Lobo (1970). Director Howard Hawks asked the elder Mitchum to reprise his El Dorado (1966) role as a drunken sheriff, but Mitchum claimed he was now retired. John Wayne responded, "Mitch has been retiring ever since the first day I met him."

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.