Thomas Mitchell Poster


Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (13) | Personal Quotes (2) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 11 July 1892Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA
Date of Death 17 December 1962Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (bone cancer)
Nickname Tommy
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Thomas Mitchell was one of the great American character actors, whose credits read like a list of the greatest films of the 20th century: Lost Horizon (1937); Stagecoach (1939); The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939); Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939); Gone with the Wind (1939); It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and High Noon (1952). His portrayals are so diverse and convincing that most people don't even realize that one actor could have played them all. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1940 for his role as the drunken Doc Boone in John Ford's Stagecoach (1939).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: groucho773@aol.com

Certainly there have been many phrases coined about Thomas Mitchell as one of the most recognizable and exemplary character actors of Hollywood's golden years, but behind that elfish demeanor was a talent to fit many hats. He was a first-generation American of Irish immigrants who settled in New Jersey. The Mitchell family had a journalistic background, and after high school Thomas followed his father and brother into newspaper reporting.

However, the writing talent in him searched for more. He began turning out comic skits for the theater. Finally in 1913 he decided to become an actor. He met another future great screen character actor, Charles Coburn, a longtime Broadway stage actor--with his wife--who had formed his own company, the Coburn Players. Coburn provided young Mitchell with some much-needed experience in the works of William Shakespeare. In late 1916 Mitchell debuted on Broadway in the original play "Under Sentence" and would be a fixture on the Great White Way steadily from then to 1935. From performing he moved into writing and directing plays with his own "Little Accident" (1928) and "Cloudy with Showers" (1931) and would do directing, writing, and some producing for other companies through the 1930s. He was involved in the production of 29 plays.

Amid this full theater life, however, Mitchell looked elsewhere to exercise his versatility. In 1923 he debuted in silent film before returning to Broadway. When he next appeared in film (1936) his "Little Accident" had already been produced as a film twice (1930 and 1932, in French). It was in fact optioned as a feature twice more (1939 and as the retitled Casanova Brown (1944)). Mitchell soon became much in demand in Hollywood for leading character parts. In 1937 his Hollywood fame was sealed with the Frank Capra classic Lost Horizon (1937), in which he was banker/embezzler Henry Barnard. His dramatic timing was flawless, but so was his to-become-trademark comic relief one-liners. That same year he was memorable and Oscar-nominated as Dr. Kersaint in the John Ford dramatic adventure The Hurricane (1937).

In 1939 Mitchell had the unique good fortune to have memorable roles in such classic movies as Only Angels Have Wings (1939). His Best Supporting Actor Oscar for one of these, Stagecoach (1939), points up the fact that his considerable abilities would just as well have merited the award for any of these films. In so many of his roles he was the cocky, self-assured man of the world. And this makes his performance of Uncle Billy in another of these - Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

  • all the more unusual, for this character, now in his elder years, is

quick with the wisecrack but has been apparently a failure as man of business and still works in the family business for his nephew, James Stewart. Outwardly cavalier but inwardly too self-absorbed with getting by to be reliable or competent, Mitchell's Uncle Billy is suddenly faced with an ultimate crisis - a near tragedy of circumstance he projects with profound pathos - when duped into believing he has once again been incompetent, losing the loan company's large bank deposit. His agony is multiplied by the emotional confrontation with a panic-stricken Stewart. The sequence is one of the real high dramatic gems of movie history. And Mitchell passes down one his most thought-provoking screen characters.

Of his 100 screen performances fully half of Mitchell's appearances were on the small screen. By 1951 he was immersed in the phenomenon of television playhouse, particularly and frequently appearing on Studio One, Lux Video Theater, The O. Henry Playhouse, The Ford Television Theater, but several others including Zane Grey Theater. He starred in two early TV series: Mayor of the Town (1954) and Glencannon (1959). He would become as well known and beloved to the new generation of TV watchers as he had been to the theater and film audiences going back to the early 20th century.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: William McPeak

Spouse (2)

Anne Stuart Brewer Hier (30 June 1941 - 17 December 1962) (his death)
Rachel Barnes Hartzell (27 August 1937 - 1939) (divorced)

Trivia (13)

1953: When he claimed the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical for "Hazel Flagg", a musical version of the film Nothing Sacred (1937), he became the first performer to claim the Triple Crown of acting awards: Tony, Emmy (as TV's Best Actor of 1953) and Oscar (for Stagecoach (1939)).
He was cremated and his ashes are stored at a crematorium in California.
Brother of James P. Mitchell, President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of Labor 1953-1961.
1939: Appeared in three out of the 10 movies nominated for a Best Picture Oscar: Gone with the Wind (1939) (which won), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and Stagecoach (1939) (for which he won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor).
Was a close friend of John Barrymore and became part of his Hollywood entourage of drinkers and raconteurs, which also included Charles MacArthur, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn, Roland Young and Anthony Quinn.
Was originally cast in The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) [aka "The Devil and Daniel Webster"], but while filming he lost control of a horse-drawn carriage in which he and young actor Lindy Wade were riding and it crashed. He was thrown from the carriage and suffered a fractured skull. Edward Arnold replaced him and all his scenes had to be reshot. Wade recovered enough to continue in his film role.
Was an avid collector of fine art, which included a Rembrandt panel acquired in 1940 from a Polish prince.
He was interred at the Vaultage of the Chapel of the Pines in Los Angeles.
Daughter Anne, born of his first marriage, was his only child.
Attended Elizabeth (New Jersey) High School and had his first job as a newspaper reporter while a student there. Following graduation, he continued working as a reporter and was hired by newspapers in Newark, Washington, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
The youngest of seven children born to Irish immigrants who settled in New Jersey, his father James Mitchell, worked in the newspaper industry and died when Thomas was a young boy; his mother's name was Mary.
Is one of 9 actors to have won the Triple Crown of Acting (an Oscar, Emmy and Tony); the others in chronological order are Melvyn Douglas, Paul Scofield, Jack Albertson, Jason Robards, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Geoffrey Rush and Christopher Plummer.
In 1939, in addition to appearing in three movies nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, he appeared in two other films that received nominations in other categories: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) and Only Angels Have Wings (1939).

Personal Quotes (2)

A man looks bigger in the bathtub than he does in the ocean.
A lot of people say I've deserted my art because I left Broadway and the stage. Hell, I'm no artist. I'm a working man. I've got a trade just like any other mechanic, and I follow my trade where the work is. Just now it's in Hollywood, but I'm not tied to Hollywood.

Salary (1)

Stagecoach (1939) $12,000

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