Saturday, August 6, 2011

Robert Mitchum, Nancy Carroll

Who was born on this date:

Actor Robert Mitchum was born on August 6, 1917 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He began his film career as an extra in B-Movies, his agent got him an interview with the producer of the Hopalong Cassidy series of B-westerns; he was hired to play the villain in several films in the series during 1942 and 1943. He continued to find further work as an extra and supporting actor in numerous productions for various studios. After impressing director Mervyn LeRoy during the making of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Mitchum signed a seven-year contract with RKO Pictures. He found himself groomed for B Western stardom in a series of Zane Grey adaptations. 

Following the moderately successful western Nevada, Mitchum was lent from RKO to United Artists for the Story of G.I. Joe. At the 1946 Academy Awards, The Story of G.I. Joe was nominated for four Oscars, including Mitchum's only nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He finished the year off with a western West of the Pecos and Till the End of Time), before filming in a genre that came to define Mitchum's career and screen persona: film noir. Mitchum was initially known for his work in the film noir genre. His first entry into this world of dark crime stories was When Strangers Marry, about a serial killer. This was followed by The Locket (1946), Pursued (1947), Crossfire (1947), and Out of the Past (1947).

On September 1, 1948, after a string of successful films for RKO, Mitchum and actress Lila Leeds were arrested for possession of marijuana. The arrest was the result of a sting operation designed to capture other Hollywood partiers as well, but Mitchum and Leeds did not receive the tip-off. After serving a week at the county jail, (he described the experience to a reporter as being "like Palm Springs, but without the riff-raff") Mitchum spent 43 days (February 16 to March 30) at a prison farm. Despite troubles with the law and his studio, the films released immediately after his arrest were box-office hits, Rachel and the Stranger (1948), the Red Pony (1949) and The Big Steal (1949). 

Mitchum's cynical, mischievous attitude through his career had led him to shrug off fame as a fluke. His performance as the menacing southern rapist Max Cady in Cape Fear (1962) brought him even more attention and furthered his renown as playing cool, predatory characters. The 1960s were marked by a number of lesser films and missed opportunities. Among the films Mitchum passed on during the decade was The Misfit’s, Patton, and Dirty Harry. The most notable of his films in the decade included The Longest Day (1962) and Anzio (1968). Though Mitchum continued to appear in films throughout the next few decades but gradually slowed his workload. His last film appearance was in the television biopic, James Dean: Race with Destiny. Mitchum died on July 1, 1997 in Santa Barbara, California from complications of lung cancer and emphysema. His remains were cremated and scattered.

Who died on this date:

On August 6, 1965, actress Nancy Carroll died. She was born on November 19, 1903 in New York City. She and her sister once performed a dancing act in a local contest of amateur talent. This led her to a stage career and then to the screen. She began her acting career in Broadway musicals. She became a successful actress in the movie musicals of the 1930s. Her film debut was in Ladies Must Dress in 1927. In 1928 she made eight films. One of them, Easy Come, Easy Go, co-starring Richard Dix. In 1930 she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Devil’s Holiday. Among her other films are Laughter (1930), Paramount on Parade (1930), Hot Saturday (1932), The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933) and Broken Lullaby (1932).  

Under contract to Paramount Pictures, Carroll often balked at the roles being offered to her and earned a reputation as a recalcitrant and uncooperative actress. In spite of her ability to successfully tackle light comedies, tearful melodramas, and even musicals, and as well as garnering considerable praise by the critics and public, she was released by the studio. In the mid-1930s under a four-film contract with Columbia Pictures, she made four rather insignificant films and was no longer an A-list actress. She retired from films in 1938, returned to the stage, and starred in several early television series. On August 6, 1965, she was found dead after failing to arrive at the theater for a performance. The cause of her death was an aneurysm and she was buried at the Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, New York., author of Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950

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