Rebellious Facts About Robert Mitchum, Hollywood's First Bad Boy

In the 1950s, Robert Mitchum was THE Hollywood heartthrob, and his rugged good looks and charming indifference made women across the country swoon. Yet beneath his roguish exterior was a troubled man prone to cruel betrayals, salacious scandals, and infamous acts. Let me just say: You aren't ready for this close-up.


1. He Was Born Into Tragedy

Robert Mitchum got a hard start in life, and bad luck seemed to run in the family. Mitchum’s father was a railroad worker…until his horrific demise. The elder Mitchum passed in a freak accident when he was crushed while working. Mitchum was just two at the time, but it was a strange presage of things to come…

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2. He Was Diabolical

Today, Mitchum is most famous for his chilling role in the film noir classic The Night of the Hunter, where he plays an evil convict posing as a preacher. Mitchum was desperate for the part—and he nailed his audition in the best way. When director Charles Laughton met with the actor, he said he was looking for "a diabolical s----," to which Mitchum answered, "Present!"

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3. He Was a One-Woman Man

For all that he was a handsome, winsome Hollywood star, Mitchum was a one-woman kind of guy…sort of. Mitchum met Dorothy Spence when they were just teenagers.

The two got married in 1940, shortly before Mitchum’s acting career took off, and stayed married until Mitchum’s passing in 1997. That’s 57 years of marital bliss…or was it?

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4. His Proposal Took a Strange Turn

Mitchum was practically addicted to Dorothy, and proposed to her soon after they started going steady. His proposal was  legendarily bad. According to the actor himself, the night he asked her to marry him, “I took one look at her and said, ‘This is it. I’ll be back for you. Stick with me, kid, and you’ll be farting through silk.’" Um, okay?

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