Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Christmas Album: Robert Mitchum


On the second day of our journey through Christmas Past, Hollywood-style, what is a bewildered and very youthful Robert Mitchum doing interviewing Santa like a beat reporter in December of 1949? Penance, for one thing.

The pride of RKO, who was apparently the fantasy alter ego of that studio's increasingly squirrelly boss, Howard Hughes, had not had a very good year. At this point, in part to publicize his appearance in a Christmas themed Holiday Affair (1949-Don Hartman), the actor, who had a growing family to feed, found his contract--which had formerly been owned in part by David O. Selznick, to be solely owned by Mr. Hughes. The seemingly imperturbable Mitchum may have struck a nonchalant pose more than once in public during his career, but perhaps he could see some advantages to getting some better press. After his 1948 arrest for his presence in what was described as "a marijuana shack" in Hollywood, the actor might have seen that being colorful could have a downside. Like going into incarceration in a county facility for sixty days of a suspended two year probation sentence in the Winter of '49. That hard won coolness that he became so well known for helped the actor ride this scandal out, resume his career and continue to support his family. He later claimed that no matter what he did, "There just isn't any pleasing some people. The trick is to stop trying." He may not have appeared to have been breaking a sweat as he churned out product for RKO, but he did put his head down and keep working.

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