- Thomas W. Collins Jr.
Mitchum, Robert (06 August 1917–01 July 1997), actor, was born Robert Charles Duran Mitchum in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of James Mitchum, a shipyard and railroad worker, and Ann Gunderson Mitchum. When Mitchum was eighteen months old, his father was crushed to death in a switching-yard accident. Subsequently, Mitchum's mother found work as a linotype operator at a newspaper. An insolent and mischievous child, Mitchum was frequently in trouble at school for his fistfights and pranks. His mother, unable to handle him, sent him to live for several months with his grandparents in Felton, Delaware, where he was expelled from the local middle school after scuffling with a principal. Around 1930 he went to live with his older sister, who had broken into show business as a dancer in New York City. When he was a freshman at Haaran High School, he was expelled for exploding a firecracker during band practice. Afterward he decided to become a hobo. He later relished telling interviewers about his adventures on the road. One story had him being arrested for vagrancy in Savannah, Georgia, and then serving on a chain gang, shackled to a six-foot-eight-inch Creole murderer, with whom he escaped after striking a guard in the head with a shovel. But his family confirmed that many of his stories were “largely imaginary” and that there was “a bit of the con in brother Bob” (quoted in Eells, p. 25)....