Subject: ARCHIVE: November 4, 1918 ~It was a century ago today, stage/film/TV actor Cameron Mitchell, best known as 'Buck Cannon' on TV's "High Chaparral", and memorable performance in films like "Love Me, Or Leave Me", "Hombre", and "My Favorite Year", was born. -Happy 100th! ...
Early life and stage career
Mitchell was born in Dallastown, Pennsylvania of Scottish and German descent, one of seven children of Rev. Charles Michael Mitzell and Kathryn Isabella (née Ehrhart) Mitzell. Young Cameron moved to Chicora, Pennsylvania in 1921 when his father was accepted as pastor of the St. John's Reformed Church, Butler, Pennsylvania, and went on to grow up in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania. He was a 1936 graduate of Greenwood High School in Millerstown, Pennsylvania.
Cameron became an NBC page at NBC Radio City that led him into making his debut appearing in a production of The Taming of the Shrew, with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne's National Theater Company. Mitchell's Broadway credits include The Trojan Women (1940), The November People (1977), Southern Exposure (1950), and Death of a Salesman (1948). In the 1940's, Mitchell served as a bombardier with the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.
His film career began with being contracted to MGM in 1945 for three years, initially with minor roles in films including They Were Expendable (with John Wayne and Robert Montgomery), but Mitchell quickly rose to leading man status. He co-starred with Wallace Beery in The Mighty McGurk, and he concluded his MGM period with two 1948 films starring Clark Gable, Homecoming and Command Decision.
One of his best-known films was the 1951 adaptation of Death of a Salesman where he originated the role of Happy on Broadway. He was then contracted to 20th Century Fox where he had a prolific career in such films as the 1952 version of Les Miserables (as Marius), the 1953 comedy How to Marry a Millionaire (with Marilyn Monroe), and 1956's film version of the stage musical Carousel. He voiced Jesus of Nazareth in The Robe.
He appeared alongside Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward and Richard Widmark in Garden of Evil, with Lana Turner and Spencer Tracy in Cass Timberlane, with Clark Gable, Robert Ryan and Jane Russell in The Tall Men, with Marlon Brando, Merle Oberon and Jean Simmons in Désirée, with Leo Fong in Enforcer from Death Row, and with Joanne Woodward and Sheree North in No Down Payment. Mitchell was loaned back to MGM with Doris Day and James Cagney in Love Me or Leave Me.
During the 1960s, Mitchell starred in numerous Italian sword and sandal, horror, fantasy, and thriller films, several of which were directed by Mario Bava, including Erik the Conqueror (1961), Blood and Black Lace (1964) and Knives of the Avenger (1966). He also appeared in Westerns, such as Minnesota Clay (1964) and Ride in the Whirlwind (1966). He appeared as Captain Alex Jansen in Space Mutiny, a 1988 South African science fiction movie that appeared as an "Experiment" in Episode 820 of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
In later years, Mitchell appeared in villainous roles as a sheriff-turned-outlaw in Hombre (1967), a bandit in Buck and the Preacher (1972) and a Ku Klux Klan racist in The Klansman (1974). Late in his career, Mitchell played a police detective in a 1983 film, Dixie Ray, Hollywood Star. He portrayed right-wing General Edwin A. Walker in Prince Jack (1985). He also played gangster 'Karl Rojeck' for laughs in Richard Benjamin's Neil Simon's story of "My Favorite Year" in 1982, which was nominee for 1983's Golden GLobe Best Motion Picture of the Year. https://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=nSO2GaqDkNY
Television career ...
Mitchell starred in an unsold 1959 television pilot called I Am a Lawyer however, he achieved success on television during the latter part of his career, where he is best remembered for starring as Buck Cannon in the 1960s/1970s NBC western series, The High Chaparral. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BV86wM8h2U
...He had the lead as 'John Lackland' in the 1961 syndicated adventure TV series "The Beachcomber". He played Henry Gordon in the television adaptation of Black Beauty. In 1984, he had the role of Duke Kovak in Partners in Crime (U.S. TV series). In 1975-1976, he portrayed Jeremiah Worth in the Swiss Family Robinson TV series.
He was featured on an episode of Bonanza and ABC's S.W.A.T.. He guest starred on the "Landslide" episode of Movin' On in 1975. He appeared on Gene Evans's short-lived Spencer's Pilots on CBS in 1976. Mitchell also had roles in horror films and in many exploitation films such as The Toolbox Murders (1978), the creature feature The Swarm (1978), the slasher film The Demon (1979), the slasher film Silent Scream (1980), and the anthology film From a Whisper to a Scream (1987).
In 1979, Mitchell became the national spokesman for Ziebart in a series of television commercials that ran for several years.
In 1940, Mitchell married Johanna Mendel, daughter of self-made Canadian business tycoon Fred Mendel. The Mendel family was based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where Fred Mendel founded Intercontinental Packers, a major family-owned meat packing operation. The Mitchells' four children held dual US/Canadian citizenship.
Johanna Mitchell gave birth to their first son, Robert Cameron Mitchell, in New York on July 4, 1941; he died in 1981. Although Mitchell and Johanna divorced around 1960, he maintained close ties to Canada. Their daughter, Camille Mitchell (born 1954), and another son, Charles (later known as Cameron Mitchell Jr.; born 1951), are both actors. Cameron and Johanna's second son, Michael Fredrick "Fred" Mitchell (19461998), was president of Intercontinental Packers for many years working alongside his mother, Johanna, who was Chairwoman of the Board. Today the company is known as Mitchell's Gourmet Foods and still operates out of Saskatoon, now owned by Maple Leaf Foods. Mitchell and his second wife, Lissa Jacobs Gertz, had three children (Kate, Jake and Jono) before divorcing in 1973. Mitchell's third wife was Margaret Brock Johnson Mozingo, whom he met when he was in Florence, South Carolina, making a film. They were married from 1973 to 1976, when the union was annulled.
In February 1974, Mitchell entered his second bankruptcy, with $2.4 million in debts contrasted with $26 in two bank accounts. He told Associated Press writer Bob Thomas: "The reasons are the same as have happened to other actors over the years. Stupid, bad investments. Parasites who live off you. Too much trust in people who handle your money."
Mitchell died of lung cancer on July 7, 1994 in Pacific Palisades, California. He was 75 years old. On his deathbed, he was surrounded by his wife, six of his seven children (eldest child Robert Cameron Mitchell (19411981) predeceased both his parents), and five grandchildren. He is buried in Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California.