James Mitchell (1920 - 2010)

James Mitchell
1920 - 2010
updated July 29, 2020
James Mitchell was born on February 29, 1920 in Sacramento, California. He died on January 22, 2010 in Los Angeles, California at 89 years old.

James Mitchell was a famous dancer and actor with an illustrious Broadway and Film Career as well as a Television Star.
Mitchell began his career as an accomplished dancer and played leading roles in such Broadway musicals as "Brigadoon," "Billion Dollar Baby," "Bloomer Girl," "Carousel," "Carnival," "Mack and Mabel" and "Paint Your Wagon."

He appeared with the American Ballet Theater in New York, Europe and South America and with the Agnes de Mille Dance Theater on tour throughout the U.S. He also starred on tour in "Funny Girl" with Carol Lawrence, "The Three Penny Opera" with Chita Rivera, "The King and I" with Ann Blyth and in "The Rainmaker" with future "All My Children" co-star Frances Heflin.

Mitchell also served as assistant to the director of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera production of "Annie Get Your Gun" with Debbie Reynolds.

Mitchell's film roles included "That's Dancing," a retrospective of great dance numbers in movie musicals; "The Turning Point" (1977), in which he played the artistic director; "The Band Wagon" (1953) with Fred Astaire; "Oklahoma!" (1955); and "Deep in My Heart" (1954) with Cyd Charisse.

He also danced with Charisse in her 1965 television special and in the Academy Awards presentation program in 1966. From 1969-73, he played Professor Hathaway on the daytime series "Where the Heart Is."
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James Mitchell Biography

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James Mitchell
Most commonly known name
Male
Gender
James
First name
Unknown
Middle name
Mitchell
Last name(s)
James Mitchell
Nickname(s) or aliases
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California 90046
Last known residence
James Mitchell was born on in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California United States
Birth
James Mitchell died on in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Death
James Mitchell was born on in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California United States
James Mitchell died on in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Birth
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Professions

James Mitchell Born February 29, 1920 in Sacramento, California, USA
Died January 22, 2010 in Los Angeles, California, USA (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)
James Mitchell was an American actor and dancer of English descent. He was one the leading dancers for choreographer Agnes de Mille (1905-1993). As an actor, Mitchell is primarily remembered for his role as diabolical businessman Palmer Cortlandt in the long-running soap opera "All My Children". Mitchell played this role from 1979 to 2010, and Cortlandt was one of the series' major characters until 2002.
In 1920, Mitchell was born in Sacramento, California. His parents were English immigrants who operated a fruit farm in Turlock, an agricultural settlement in Stanislaus County, California. In 1923, his parents separated. His mother returned to England, and took Mitchell's siblings with her. Unable to raise Mitchell on his own, his father entrusted him to the care of vaudevillians Gene and Katherine King. While the senior Mitchell eventually reclaimed custody over his son, Mitchell became interested in a show business career of his own.
Mitchell left Turlock in 1937, in order to seek education as an actor. He studied drama at Los Angeles City College, and was trained in modern dance by famed choreographer Lester Horton (1906-1953). Following his graduation, Mitchell formally joined the Lester Horton Dancers (1932-1944), Horton's own dance company.
In 1944, Horton dissolved his dance company and moved to New York City, taking Mitchell with him. Horton attempted to form a new dance company there for dancer Sonia Shaw, and his main investor was Shaw's husband. The investor reneged on the deal, and Horton's company went bankrupt before its debut performance. Mitchell was left unemployed for the first time in his career.
Mitchell eventually applied for a job as a dancer in the musical "Bloomer Girl" (1944), where Agnes de Mille was the choreographer.
She asked him to perform ballet moves, unaware that Mitchell had little to no training in ballet. Instead Mitchell performed a dance improvisation. De Mille was sufficiently impressed by his style to offer him the dual position of principal dancer and assistant choreographer in the show. He took the offer.
Mitchell's professional relationship with de Mille lasted from 1944 to 1969. In her autobiography, she praised Mitchell, commenting that he gad "probably the strongest arms in the business, and the adagio style developed by him and his partners has become since a valued addition to ballet vocabulary."
Mitchell remained primarily a theatrical actor in the 1940s, though he appeared as a dancer and uncredited extra in film musicals and westerns. He was eventually offered a contract with Warner Brothers by producer Michael Curtiz (1886-1962). Mitchell only appeared in two Warner Brothers-produced film. His most notable there was playing gangster Duke Harris in the Western "Colorado Territory" (1949).
Mitcell was next signed to a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), where he played supporting roles in films from 1949 to 1955. His film appearances included the film noir "Border Incident" (1949), the Western "Stars in My Crown" (1950), and the musical comedy "The Band Wagon" (1953). His last MGM-produced film was the Biblical epic "The Prodigal" (1955), a notorious box office flop that resulted in losses of 771,000 dollars by the company. Mitchell's contract was terminated shortly afterward.
In 1956, Mitchell gained his first lead role in a film, playing gunfighter Terrall Butler in the Western "The Peacemaker" (1956). It was a low-budget production by independent producer Hal R. Makelim, and the film eventually only had a limited release. It was Mitchell's last film role for decades.
Mitchell was able to find steady work as an actor in television productions. In 1964, he gained the recurring role of corrupt Captain Lloyd Griffin in the soap opera "The Edge of Night" (1956-1975). He eventually gained the lead role of professor of literature Julian Hathaway in another soap opera, "Where the Heart Is" (1969-1973). The series had "fairly healthy ratings" for its entire run, but it was typically the lowest-rated soap on CBS' daytime schedule. It was eventually canceled and replaced by a more successful soap opera, called "The Young and the Restless" (1973-).
For much to the 1970s, Mitchell was reduced to sporadic guest star appearances in television. He financially supported himself as an acting teacher Juilliard, Yale University, and Drake University. He was eventually offered the new role of businessman Palmer Cortlandt in the soap opera "All My Children", a role he played for 31 years.
By 2008, Mitchell was forced to reduce his television appearances due to health problems. He was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an obstructive lung disease characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. He formally retired from acting in 2009, but made return appearances in 2010. He died in January 2010, his death caused by his chronic disease and complications by pneumonia. He was 89-years-old.
[About still thinking of himself as a dancer at age 84] When I go to the theater to watch dance, my muscles twitch. I can't help but respond physically to music and the choreography. It simply moves me. There's no doubt that the dancer is still present inside.

Personal Life & Organizations

Has taught movement for actors to theater arts students at Yale University.
After he put up his dancing shoes, he turned to TV and found a nice niche for himself in soaps -- notably as the scheming old tycoon Palmer Cortlandt on All My Children (1970) playing the role since 1979.
In his early career, he performed with the American Ballet Theatre.
First appeared on stage as part of his foster parents' vaudeville act.
Received a degree in drama from Los Angeles City College.
In 1947, his performance in the original Broadway production of "Brigadoon" earned him a Walter Donaldson Award (the predecessor of the "Tony" Award) as Best Dancer, as well as a Theatre World Award.
His best-known role on film was in Agnes de Mille's spectacular dream sequence as 'Dream Curly' in the 1955 musical classic Oklahoma! (1955) He worked in tandem with the famed choreographer quite frequently.
The Harlem Renaissance artist Richmond Barthe (1901-1989) sculpted and exhibited a bust of Mitchell in 1947.
Briefly co-owned an antiques shop called "Country Imports" in the late 1950s.
His longtime partner was costume designer Albert Wolsky.
Close associations in dance were with Gower Champion, Eugene Loring (with whom he also trained), and Jerome Robbins.
In 1923, his mother, Edith, left his father and returned to England with Mitchell's brother and sister; she and Mitchell had no further contact. Unable to run a farm while single-handedly raising his remaining son, Mitchell's father fostered him out for several years to vaudevillians Gene and Katherine King.
He taught movement for actors at the American Laboratory Theatre, 1966-1967; movement for actors and directors at the Yale School of Drama, 1974, and movement for actors and directors at the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, 1976.
Danced for Lester Horton, the Agnes de Mille Dance Theater and the American Ballet Theater.
Retired. [October 2009]
Personal Quotes (5)
[on Palmer Cortlandt] He's not a threat at all. He's just aggravating.
[In a promotional article for TSR's All My Children (1970) role-playing game] When I play, I like to be Erica.
[on Jerome Robbins] He was the most charming, lovable son of a bitch that I have ever known.
[About starring in The Peacemaker (1956)]: I'm an old face but a new voice.

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'All My Children' actor James Mitchell dies

Played wealthy patriarch Palmer Cortlandt for 30 years
James Mitchell, who played wealthy patriarch Palmer Cortlandt on ABC daytime soap "All My Children" for 30 years, died Friday in Los Angeles of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, complicated by pneumonia. He was 89.
Mitchell joined the cast of "AMC" in 1979. His final appearance was Jan. 5 for the show's 40th anniversary episode.
Mitchell began his career as an accomplished dancer and played leading roles in such Broadway musicals as "Brigadoon," "Billion Dollar Baby," "Bloomer Girl," "Carousel," "Carnival," "Mack and Mabel" and "Paint Your Wagon."
He appeared with the American Ballet Theater in New York, Europe and South America and with the Agnes de Mille Dance Theater on tour throughout the U.S. He also starred on tour in "Funny Girl" with Carol Lawrence, "The Three Penny Opera" with Chita Rivera, "The King and I" with Ann Blyth and in "The Rainmaker" with future "All My Children" co-star Frances Heflin.
Mitchell also served as assistant to the director of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera production of "Annie Get Your Gun" with Debbie Reynolds.
Mitchell's film roles included "That's Dancing," a retrospective of great dance numbers in movie musicals; "The Turning Point" (1977), in which he played the artistic director; "The Band Wagon" (1953) with Fred Astaire; "Oklahoma!" (1955); and "Deep in My Heart" (1954) with Cyd Charisse.
He also danced with Charisse in her 1965 television special and in the Academy Awards presentation program in 1966. From 1969-73, he played Professor Hathaway on the daytime series "Where the Heart Is."
Mitchell taught movement for actors and theater arts students, which he described as "an exchange of the disciplines of dancing and acting." He taught at Yale University and at Drake University, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in fine arts.
Mitchell is survived by his longtime partner, Albert Wolsky.

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1920 - 2010 World Events

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In 1920, in the year that James Mitchell was born, speakeasies replaced saloons as the center of social activity. After the 18th Amendment was ratified and selling alcohol became illegal, saloons closed and speakeasies took their place. Speakeasies, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, were "so called because of the practice of speaking quietly about such a place in public, or when inside it, so as not to alert the police or neighbors". There were a lot of them and they were very popular. And where saloons often prohibited women, they were encouraged at speakeasies because of the added profits.

In 1934, James was just 14 years old when on June 6th, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was formed as a response to the stock market crash of 1929 and the continuing Great Depression. Previously, the states regulated the offering and sales of stocks - called "blue sky" laws. They were largely ineffective. Roosevelt created a group (one member was Joseph Kennedy, father of the future President Kennedy) who knew Wall Street well and they defined the mission and operating mode for the SEC. The new organization had broad and stringent rules and oversight and restored public confidence in the stock market in the United States.

In 1946, at the age of 26 years old, James was alive when on July 4th, the Philippines gained independence from the United States. In 1964, Independence Day in the Philippines was moved from July 4th to June 12th at the insistence of nationalists and historians.

In 1969, by the time he was 49 years old, on July 20th, the first men walked on the moon. Apollo 11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. both walked on the moon but it was Armstrong who first stepped on the moon. They fulfilled the promise of President Kennedy's commitment in 1961 to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

In 1977, when he was 57 years old, on May 25th, Star Wars premiered in theaters. Eventually, it became the highest-grossing film of all time - until E.T. surpassed it a few years later. It was an immediate hit with theatergoers.

Other Biographies

Other James Mitchells

c. 1921 - Jan 19, 1946
c. 1911 - Jun 28, 1941
Unknown - Jun 16, 1916
c. 1914 - May 1, 1943
Unknown - Nov 16, 1917
c. 1916 - May 24, 1940
c. 1886 - Mar 9, 1915
c. 1920 - Aug 21, 1944
c. 1896 - Sep 26, 1915
c. 1890 - Oct 23, 1918
c. 1889 - Mar 16, 1917
c. 1888 - Apr 1, 1918
Dec 31, 1923 - Jan 21, 1944
Unknown - May 31, 1916
c. 1924 - Dec 17, 1943
c. 1891 - Dec 1, 1915
c. 1910 - Apr 29, 1943
c. 1883 - Jul 22, 1917
Unknown - Feb 25, 1917
c. 1893 - Sep 3, 1916

Other Mitchells

Sep 21, 1968 - Dec 6, 2004
Jan 31, 1920 - May 1977
Mar 24, 1907 - April 1975
Jun 8, 1896 - January 1977
Sep 7, 1877 - August 1963
Sep 23, 1892 - August 1981
Nov 11, 1917 - Jul 19, 2010
Jan 8, 1898 - Jan 4, 1994
Feb 11, 1892 - June 1974
Aug 1, 1906 - January 1975
Mar 4, 1960 - Mar 4, 2010
Jun 20, 1901 - Jun 14, 1994
Apr 9, 1901 - December 1987
Aug 26, 1926 - Aug 9, 2010
May 22, 1927 - May 4, 2007
Sep 12, 1925 - Dec 14, 1997
Sep 23, 1924 - Jul 26, 1999
Aug 3, 1919 - Aug 1, 1992
Mar 23, 1897 - August 1974
Mar 10, 1910 - Oct 14, 1997

Other Bios

Jun 29, 1903 - August 1985
Jan 28, 1877 - December 1967
Mar 23, 1910 - June 1979
Dec 28, 1913 - October 1985
Jun 30, 1914 - August 1983
Mar 19, 1916 - September 1984
Mar 16, 1919 - Jun 16, 2004
Jan 14, 1895 - Jan 15, 1972
Nov 13, 1915 - Sep 26, 2006
Aug 23, 1915 - Aug 20, 2003
May 28, 1893 - June 1977
Jul 14, 1902 - January 1969
Sep 23, 1908 - February 1972
Jan 6, 1915 - Jun 14, 2008
Nov 22, 1906 - April 1956
Mar 4, 1909 - Apr 2, 2001
Nov 13, 1899 - April 1967
Sep 18, 1917 - February 1983
Jan 25, 1894 - January 1976
May 25, 1919 - July 1968
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