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August 6: Robert Mitchum’s Birthday

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It’s Robert Mitchum’s Birthday. Born in 1917,  Mitchum was one of those rare actors that changed the industry rather than having the industry change him. Unique in style and, shall we say, off-screen behavior, he made his mark as the ultimate villain Max Cady in Cape Fear, the mysterious gumshoe in Out of the Past, and the drunk Sheriff in El Dorado. As you might have heard, even now, long after his death, Robert liked to drink. A lot. And he had no problem telling anyone who asked how much. We’re talking one-to-three fifths of tequila, vodka, whiskey, whatever, during a typical day, and this was when he was on set or doing interviews. He never took the acting thing very seriously, saying things like, “I got three expressions: looking left, looking right and looking straight ahead.” Unlike a lot of his peers, Mitchum was an actual tough guy. He came from a rough background, and he knew how to brawl, drink, drive fast, and get in trouble. Which landed him in jail a lot, particularly for a wealthy actor. Top quote: “I have to be able to drink because the only way to get rid of people is to out-drink them. It takes 36 hours or more sometimes. Sometimes they’re kissing the coffee table after 30 minutes.”

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Editor/Publisher of Modern Drunkard Magazine.

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