Mitchell (left) opposite Sammy Petrillo in Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla.
May 26, 1926
Farrell, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||December 2, 1981
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Occupation||Singer, actor, director|
Duke Mitchell (May 9, 1926 – December 2, 1981) was an American film actor, slapstick comedian, crooner and independent film director. Mitchell often performed his nightclub act in and around Palm Springs, California and anointed himself the "King of Palm Springs."
Early life and career
Mitchell was born Dominic Miceli in Farrell, Pennsylvania. In 1951, he teamed with teenaged comic Sammy Petrillo for a nightclub act. Mitchell's cabaret-style crooning and Petrillo's manic, rubber-faced clowning bore more than a passing resemblance to the popular team of Martin and Lewis, causing Jerry Lewis to take legal action. The suit was later dismissed.
Movie producer Jack Broder intended to star Mitchell and Petrillo in a feature-length comedy. Petrillo later recalled his suspicion that Broder never really intended to make the film: Broder expected Paramount to pay him off, but when Paramount dropped the lawsuit, Broder had to follow through. The resulting film was Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, a jungle-themed comedy.
After Mitchell and Petrillo parted as friends, Mitchell stayed in show business, doing nightclub and began directing self-financed independent films such as Massacre Mafia Style and Gone with the Pope which have since developed a huge cult following. Mitchell also provided the Elvis-like singing voice of Fred Flintstone in several episodes of The Flintstones.
Several of Mitchell’s projects originally weren't released, including his second feature film Gone with the Pope which only existed as a work print when it was found in a garage by Grindhouse Releasing’s Bob Murawski and Sage Stallone. It was carefully restored and released theatrically in 2011 by Grindhouse Releasing, which has also restored and released Mitchell’s Massacre Mafia Style on Blu-ray in 2015.
On December 2, 1981, Mitchell died of lung cancer at the age of 55.
- Massacre Mafia Style (1974, re-released in 2010 by Grindhouse Releasing) (aka Like Father Like Son, aka The Executioner)
- Gone with the Pope (1976, released in 2010 by Grindhouse Releasing)
- Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)
- Sailor Beware (1952) (uncredited)
- Crime in the Streets (1956) (uncredited)
- Baby Face Nelson (1957)
- Paradise Alley (1962)
- Massacre Mafia Style (1974)
- Gone with the Pope (1976)
-  New York Times "Sammy Petrillo, Comedian" Obituary, By DENNIS HEVESI, August 24, 2009
- Sammy Petrillo Speaks Out; illustrated by Ward Sutton
-  “Massacre Mafia Style” – The Grindhouse Database
-  TCM Underground “Massacre Mafia Style” by Nathanial Thompson, May 31, 2013
-  Blu-ray.com “Massacre Mafia Style Blu-ray Detailed”, December 2, 2014
- "Weekend Weirdness: Gone with the Pope", by Hunter Stephenson, November 15,2009
- Twitchfilm “DVD Review: MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE: Family Edition”, February 2011
- Grindhouse Releasing a Massacre Mafia Style