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 red-hot team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The act got too close for comfort and Lewis famously threatened to sue the duo. It was Duke Mitchell, however, who pointed out a key flaw in the case: that it was Martin's earlier nose job that made him more closely resemble Mitchell. Martin & Lewis's studio, Paramount Pictures, hurriedly dropped the suit.
Movie producer Jack Broder had announced his intention 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 silly, jungle-themed comedy co-starring the former "Dracula."
After Mitchell and Petrillo parted as friends, Mitchell stayed in show business, doing nightclub and film work. Mitchell also provided the Elvis-like "singing voice" of Fred Flintstone in several episodes of the popular cartoon TV series, The Flintstones.
On December 2, 1981, Mitchell died of lung cancer at the age of 55.
- Gone with the Pope (1976, released in 2010 by Grindhouse Releasing)
- Like Father Like Son, aka The Executioner and aka Massacre Mafia Style (1978)
- Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)
- Sailor Beware (1952) (uncredited)
- Crime in the Streets (1956) (uncredited)
- Baby Face Nelson (1957)
- Paradise Alley (1962)
- The Executioner (1978)