Cameron Mitchell

Active - 1945 - 2001  |   Born - Nov 18, 1918   |   Died - Jul 6, 1994   |   Genres - Drama, Action, Western, Adventure, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The son of a Pennsylvania minister, actor Cameron Mitchell first appeared on Broadway in 1934, in the Lunts' modern-dress version of Taming of the Shrew. He served as a bombardier during World War II, and for a brief period entertained thoughts of becoming a professional baseball player (he allegedly held an unsigned contract with the Detroit Tigers until the day he died). Mitchell was signed to an MGM contract in 1945, but stardom would elude him until he appeared as Happy in the original 1949 Broadway production of Death of the Salesman. He re-created this role for the 1951 film version, just before signing a long-term contract with 20th Century Fox. Throughout the 1950s, Mitchell alternated between likeable characters (the unpretentious business executive in How to Marry a Millionaire [1952]) and hissable ones (Jigger Craigin in Carousel [1956]); his best performance, in the opinion of fans and critics alike, was as drug-addicted boxer Barney Ross in the 1957 biopic Monkey on My Back. Beginning in the 1960s, Mitchell adroitly sidestepped the IRS by appearing in dozens of Spanish and Italian films, only a few of which were released in the U.S. He also starred in three TV series: The Beachcomber (1961), The High Chapparal (1969-1971), and Swiss Family Robinson (1976). Mitchell spent the better part of the 1970s and 1980s squandering his talents in such howlers as The Toolbox Murders, though there were occasional bright moments, notably his performance as a neurotic mob boss in 1982's My Favorite Year. A note for trivia buffs: Cameron Mitchell also appeared in the first CinemaScope film, The Robe (1953). Mitchell was the voice of Jesus in the Crucifixion scene.

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