Cameron Mitchell (actor)

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Cameron Mitchell
Cameron Mitchell in Love Me or Leave Me trailer.jpg
Mitchell in the trailer for Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
Born Cameron McDowell Mitzell
November 4, 1918
Dallastown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died July 7, 1994(1994-07-07) (aged 75)
Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1945–1994
Spouse(s) Johanna Mendel (1940-c. 1960; divorced)
Lissa Jacobs Gertz (19??–1973; divorced)
Margaret Brock Johnson Mozingo (1973-76; annulled)
Children 7
Parent(s) Rev. Charles Michael Mitzell
Kathryn Isabella Ehrhart Mitzell

Cameron Mitchell (born Cameron McDowell Mitzell, November 4, 1918 – July 7, 1994[1]) was an American film, television, and Broadway actor with close ties to one of Canada's most successful families. From 1967-71, Mitchell appeared in the western television series The High Chaparral.

Early life and stage career[edit]

Mitchell was born in Dallastown, Pennsylvania of Scottish and German descent, one of seven children of Rev. Charles Michael Mitzell and Kathryn Isabella (née Ehrhart) Mitzell.[2]

Young Cameron moved to Chicora, Pennsylvania in 1921 when his father was accepted as pastor of the St. John's Reformed Church, Butler, Pennsylvania,[3] and went on to grow up in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania. He was a 1936 graduate of Greenwood High School in Millerstown, Pennsylvania.[2][note 1][4]

Cameron became an NBC page at NBC Radio City that led him into making his debut appearing in a production of The Taming of the Shrew, with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne's National Theater Company.[5]

Mitchell's Broadway credits include The Trojan Women (1940), The November People (1977), Southern Exposure (1950), and Death of a Salesman (1948).[6]

Mitchell served as a bombardier[7] with the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.

Film career[edit]

His film career began with being contracted to MGM in 1945 for three years, initially with minor roles in films including They Were Expendable (with John Wayne and Robert Montgomery), but Mitchell quickly rose to leading man status. He co-starred with Wallace Beery in The Mighty McGurk, and he concluded his MGM period with two 1948 films starring Clark Gable, Homecoming and Command Decision.

One of his best-known films was the 1951 adaptation of Death of a Salesman where he originated the role of Happy on Broadway. He was then contracted to 20th Century Fox where he had a prolific career in such films as the 1952 version of Les Miserables (as Marius), the 1953 comedy How to Marry a Millionaire (with Marilyn Monroe), and 1956's film version of the stage musical Carousel. He voiced Jesus of Nazareth in The Robe.

He appeared alongside Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward and Richard Widmark in Garden of Evil, with Lana Turner and Spencer Tracy in Cass Timberlane, with Clark Gable, Robert Ryan and Jane Russell in The Tall Men, with Marlon Brando, Merle Oberon and Jean Simmons in Désirée, with Leo Fong in Enforcer from Death Row, and with Joanne Woodward and Sheree North in No Down Payment. Mitchell was loaned out back to MGM with Doris Day and James Cagney in Love Me or Leave Me.

During the 1960s, Mitchell starred in numerous Italian sword and sandal, horror, fantasy, and thriller films, several of which were directed by Mario Bava, including Erik the Conqueror (1961), Blood and Black Lace (1964), Ride the Whirlwind (1965) and Knives of the Avenger (1966). He also participated in Spaghetti Westerns, like Minnesota Clay by Sergio Corbucci. He appeared as Captain Alex Jansen in Space Mutiny, a 1988 South African science fiction movie that appeared as an "Experiment" in Episode 820 of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

In later years, Mitchell appeared in villainous roles as a sheriff turned outlaw in Hombre (1967), a bandit in Buck and the Preacher (1972) and a Ku Klux Klan racist in The Klansman (1974). He also played a gangster for laughs in My Favorite Year. Late in his career, Mitchell played a police detective in a 1983 film, Dixie Ray, Hollywood Star.[8] He portrayed right-wing General Edwin A. Walker in Prince Jack (1985).

Television career[edit]

Mitchell with Patricia Barry in The High Chaparral

Mitchell starred in an unsold 1959 television pilot called I Am a Lawyer[9] however, he achieved success on television during the latter part of his career, where he is best remembered for starring as Buck Cannon in the 1960s/1970s NBC western series, The High Chaparral.[10]:458 He had the lead as John Lackland in the 1961 syndicated adventure series The Beachcomber.[10]

He played Henry Gordon in the television adaptation of Black Beauty.[10]:110 In 1984, he had the role of Duke Kovak in Partners in Crime (U.S. TV series).[10]:814 In 1975-1976, he portrayed Jeremiah Worth in the Swiss Family Robinson TV series.[10]:1046

He was featured on an episode of Bonanza and ABC's S.W.A.T.. He guest starred on the "Landslide" episode of Movin' On in 1975. He appeared on Gene Evans's short-lived Spencer's Pilots on CBS in 1976. Mitchell also had roles in horror films and in many exploitation films such as The Toolbox Murders (1978), the creature feature The Swarm (1978), the slasher film The Demon (1979), the slasher film Silent Scream (1980), and the anthology film From a Whisper to a Scream (1987).

In 1979, Mitchell became the national spokesman for Ziebart in a series of television commercials that ran for several years.[11]

Personal life[edit]

In 1940, Mitchell married Johanna Mendel, daughter of self-made Canadian business tycoon Fred Mendel. The Mendel family was based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where Fred Mendel founded Intercontinental Packers, a major family-owned meat packing operation. The Mitchells' four children held dual US/Canadian citizenship.

Johanna Mitchell gave birth to their first son, Robert Cameron Mitchell, in New York on July 4, 1941; he died in 1981. Although Mitchell and Johanna divorced around 1960, he maintained close ties to Canada. Their daughter, Camille Mitchell (born 1954), and another son, Charles (later known as Cameron Mitchell Jr.; born 1951), are both actors.

Cameron and Johanna's second son, Michael Fredrick "Fred" Mitchell (1946–1998), was president of Intercontinental Packers for many years working alongside his mother, Johanna, who was Chairwoman of the Board. Today the company is known as Mitchell's Gourmet Foods and still operates out of Saskatoon, now owned by Maple Leaf Foods. Mitchell and his second wife, Lissa Jacobs Gertz, had three children (Kate, Jake and Jono) before divorcing in 1973. Mitchell's third wife was Margaret Brock Johnson Mozingo, whom he met when he was in Florence, South Carolina, making a film. They were married from 1973 to 1976, when the union was annulled.[12]


In February 1974, Mitchell entered his second bankruptcy, with $2.4 million in debts contrasted with $26 in two bank accounts. He told Associated Press writer Bob Thomas: "The reasons are the same as have happened to other actors over the years. Stupid, bad investments. Parasites who live off you. Too much trust in people who handle your money."[12]


Mitchell died of lung cancer on July 7, 1994 in Pacific Palisades, California. He was 75 years old.[13] He is buried in Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California.[1][14]

On his deathbed, he was surrounded by his wife, six of his seven children (eldest child Robert Cameron Mitchell (1941–1981) predeceased both his parents), and five grandchildren.[15]



  1. ^ An article in the March 15, 1947, issue of The Gazette and Daily from York, Pennsylvania, says that Mitchell went to New Freedom High School.


  1. ^ a b "Palm Springs Cemetery District "Interments of Interest"" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  2. ^ a b Aaker, Everett (2017). Television Western Players, 1960–1975: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. p. 303. ISBN 9781476628561. Retrieved July 15, 2017. 
  3. ^ Rev. Mitzell Served St. John's Reformed Church from December 1, 1921 to November 30, 1922."St. John's Reformed Church in Donegal Township Pennsylvania". Archived from the original on July 15, 2017. Retrieved July 15, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Cameron Mitchell, York County Native, Moves Near Top In Movies". The Gazette and Daily. Pennsylvania, York. March 15, 1947. p. 14. Retrieved July 13, 2017 – via  open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ "("Cameron Mitchell" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on July 15, 2017. Retrieved July 15, 2017. 
  7. ^ Shipman, David (July 8, 1994). "Obituary: Cameron Mitchell". Independent. Archived from the original on July 15, 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  8. ^ "Film profile". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  9. ^ p. 132 Terrace, Vincent Encyclopedia of Television Pilots, 1937–2012, McFarland, March 1, 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. 
  11. ^ "FuzzyMemories.TV - - Ziebart (Commercial, 1979)". 
  12. ^ a b Thomas, Bob (February 21, 1974). "Actor Cameron Mitchell Chose Bankruptcy Over Suicide Act". The Robesonian. North Carolina, Lumberton. Associated Press. p. 12. Retrieved July 13, 2017 – via  open access publication – free to read
  13. ^ Grimes, William (July 9, 1994). "Cameron Mitchell, 75, Actor; Created Role in 'Salesman'". Retrieved July 2, 2010. 
  14. ^ Brooks, Patricia; Brooks, Jonathan (2006). "Chapter 8: East L.A. and the Desert". Laid to Rest in California: a guide to the cemeteries and grave sites of the rich and famous. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press. p. 238. ISBN 978-0762741014. OCLC 70284362. 
  15. ^ Oliver, Myrna (July 8, 1994). "Cameron Mitchell; Multifaceted Actor". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 15, 2017. Retrieved July 15, 2017. 

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