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Robert Mitchum's Struggles and Run-Ins with the Law — inside the Late Actor's Life

Bettina Dizon
Apr 12, 2020
12:00 P.M.
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Robert Mitchum made himself known as a bad boy turned outlaw, yet managed to have a successful career in film, up until his death.

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Although he had several run-ins with the law, Robert Mitchum managed to bag an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Story of G.I. Joe?”

He became known throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s for his “bad boy” image that seemed to attract both men and women.

In the ‘80s, he starred in “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance,” while his last on-screen appearance was in “James Dean: Race with Destiny.”

Robert Mitchum (1917 - 1997), circa 1945. | Source: Getty Images

Robert Mitchum (1917 - 1997), circa 1945. | Source: Getty Images

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FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH AUTHORITIES

Mitchum lost his father at the age of two after a switching accident caused his death. His mother raised him and his siblings single-handedly.

At the age of 14, the actor dropped out of school to work as a coal miner, laborer, aircraft assembler, and boxer, all round the country.

Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum in the film "Macau", 1952. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum in the film "Macau", 1952. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

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He was a free-spirited prankster and despised the authorities after several encounters with them. His first time in prison happened at the age of 15 when he was charged for vagrancy in Georgia.

As punishment, he was put on the chain gang for 180 days on Brown Farm but still managed to escape. Mitchum entered the Hollywood scene a bad boy and stayed that way until the end.

Robert Mitchum in 1949. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Robert Mitchum in 1949. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

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RUN INS WITH THE LAW

Mitchum got a job as a machine operator in Lockheed Aircraft Corporation after his wife gave birth to a baby boy. However, he didn’t last long after the stress gave him a nervous breakdown.

He instead worked as an extra in films until landing a good spot in “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” and signed with RKO Radio Pictures.

Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in "Out of the Past" (1947). | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in "Out of the Past" (1947). | Source: Wikimedia Commons

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He suffered from lung cancer and emphysema prior to his passing.

In the ‘40s, with a career building, Mitchum was arrested for marijuana possession, which sent him behind bars for two months.

The charges were no doubt going to destroy his career, but with a powerful team behind him, it enhanced his rebellious image. When asked about his time in jail, he compared it to “Palm Springs without the riffraff.”

Gloria Grahame and Robert Mitchum in the film "Macau", 1952. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Gloria Grahame and Robert Mitchum in the film "Macau", 1952. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

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In Lee Server’s biography of the actor, he detailed Mitchum’s final run-in with the law. The movie star was speeding when a cop pulled him over.

Mitchum pulled over, lit a cigarette, and asked if there were any witnesses. After the cop said they were the only ones at the scene, he got back in his car and sped away.

 Robert Mitchum at home reading with his two sons, James Mitchum and Christopher Mitchum. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Robert Mitchum at home reading with his two sons, James Mitchum and Christopher Mitchum. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

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He was later issued a warrant of arrest on the accounts of resisting an officer, speeding, and hiding from authorities.’

THE LAST OF ROBERT MITCHUM

Mitchum died in 1997 at the age of 79, while asleep in his Santa Barbara, California home. He suffered from lung cancer and emphysema prior to his passing.

Robert Mitchum in Amsterdam Hilton for the film "The Amsterdam Kill," October 1, 1976. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Robert Mitchum in Amsterdam Hilton for the film "The Amsterdam Kill," October 1, 1976. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Through his over 100 films that included the genres of western and war, the actor left a legacy in the industry for a lifetime.

At the time of his death, Mitchum left his wife, two sons James and Christopher, a daughter Petrine, a brother John, and two sisters Julie and Carol.

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