Rhea Mitchell

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Rhea Mitchell
Rhea Mitchell 1915.jpg
Mitchell in 1915
Born (1890-12-10)December 10, 1890
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Died October 16, 1957(1957-10-16) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Homicide by strangulation
Resting place Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Occupation Actress, screenwriter
Years active 1912–1952

Rhea Mitchell (December 10, 1890 – September 16, 1957) was an American film actress and screenwriter. She began her career during the silent film era, and went on to appear in over 100 films. In her early career, she earned the name of "the little stunt girl" because of her willingness to attempt thrilling scenes in motion pictures.[1] Mitchell's first major role was in On the Night Stage (1915), followed by a part in The Diamond from the Sky, a serial film starring Lottie Pickford.

After the advent of sound pictures, Mitchell continued to work in film, though often appearing uncredited, before retiring in 1952. In 1957, Mitchell was murdered by a tenant in an apartment building she owned in Los Angeles, California. She is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Early life[edit]

Mitchell was born on December 10, 1890 in Portland, Oregon,[2] to Lillie and Willis N. Mitchell.[3] Mitchell was raised in Portland, and was an only child.[4] At age seventeen, Mitchell was given her first role in a local theater production.[4]

Career[edit]

Mitchell began her career in 1909 playing in the Baker Theater Stock Company in her hometown of Portland. Between 1911 and 1913, Mitchell lived in Spokane and Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia, appearing in theatrical productions, before settling in San Francisco.[4] In San Francisco, she was a part of the Orpheum Circuit and at the Alcazar Theater.[5] Mitchell made her film debut in 1912 with the New York Motion Picture Corporation [5] and would eventually appear in over 100 films during her career. She appeared a number of times with Western star William S. Hart playing a leading role in those films. In 1916 she played in The Brink with Forrest Winant and Arthur Maude.[6]

After 1917, her roles became smaller and she appeared in a handful of films through the mid-30s and in several bit parts during the early 1950s which often went uncredited. In 1936, she appeared in an uncredited part in San Francisco, starring Clark Gable, and directed by W. S. Van Dyke, who had directed Mitchell in The Hawk's Trail in 1916.[7] In addition to her acting work, Mitchell also worked as a screenwriter.[4]

Death[edit]

After her retirement from films, Mitchell managed a large apartment house in Los Angeles. While managing a second apartment in 1957, the La Brea District Apartments, a disgruntled tenant named Sonnie Hartford, Jr., strangled her with the cord of her blue silk dressing gown.[8][9] An article in the Press-Telegram read in part,

"A search still was being made by police for a 'baldish, middleaged man' who reportedly kept company recently with the never-married Miss Mitchell. Seattle police were asked to question Miss Mitchell's only known relative, an aunt, Mrs. John Benson. Police said there was no sign of a struggle or criminal attack. Her body was discovered by the houseboy. The actress, known as Ginger to her friends, had played opposite such silent film stars as William S. Hart, Tom Mix, King Baggot and Bert Lytell.... She had appeared in film bit roles as recently as 1951."[8]

Mitchell is interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.[2]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1912 The Hidden Trail
1912 His Squaw
1913 An Indian's Gratitude
1913 An Indian's Honor
1914 The Fires of Ambition Mrs. Patton
1914 In the Southern Hills Nan Hopkins
1915 The Scourge of the Desert Ellen Holt Alternative title: Reformed Outlaw
1915 On the Night Stage Belle Shields
1915 The Devil Milli
1915 The Diamond from the Sky
1915 Tools of Providence Daisy Austin
1915 The Beckoning Flame Elsa Arlington
1916 The Sable Curse Mary Alternative title: The Sable Blessing
1916 Sequel to the Diamond from the Sky Esther Stanley
1916 The Three Musketeers Constance Bonacieux
1916 The Overcoat Belle[10]
1916 The Man from Manhattan Virginia Winters
1917 The Gilded Youth Mary
1917 Whither Thou Goest Maizie
1918 Honor's Cross Jane Cabot
1918 The Goat Bijou Lamour
1919 The Money Corral Janet Collins
1919 The Hawk's Trail Jean Drake
1920 The Devil's Claim Virginia Crosby
1920 The Scoffer Alice Porn
1921 A Ridin' Romeo Mabel Brentwood
1921 The Innocent Cheat Peggy Adair
1923 The Greatest Menace Mary Lewis
1924 The Other Kind of Love The Chorus Girl
1926 Modern Youth
1927 The Home Trail
1928 Danger Patrol Gladys Lawlor
1933 The Big Bluff
1934 Behold My Wife Reporter Uncredited
1934 One Hour Late Stage mother Uncredited
1936 San Francisco Uncredited
1936 Mysterious Crossing Hall clerk Uncredited
1938 The Ship That Died
1940 I Take This Woman Decker's Secretary Uncredited
1943 Harrigan's Kid Woman at Race Track Uncredited
1943 The Cross of Lorraine Mother Uncredited
1944 Marriage Is a Private Affair Nurse Uncredited
1944 Mrs. Parkington Mrs. Humphrey Uncredited
1945 The Hidden Eye Pedestrian Uncredited
1946 The Hoodlum Saint Reporter Uncredited
1947 The Mighty McGurk Woman at Children's Society Uncredited
1947 Green Dolphin Street Emily Uncredited
1948 The Bride Goes Wild Wedding Guest Uncredited
1948 State of the Union Jeny Alternative title: The World and His Wife
1949 In the Good Old Summertime Woman at window Uncredited
1950 Stars In My Crown Mrs. Backett Uncredited
1950 The Next Voice You Hear... Woman in church Uncredited
1951 The Unknown Man Maid Uncredited
1951 It's a Big Country School teacher Uncredited
1952 My Man and I Nurse Uncredited
1952 The Member of the Wedding Townswoman Uncredited

References[edit]

  1. ^ Daisy Dean "News Notes From Movieland", Janesville Daily Gazette (Wednesday, October 4, 1916) p 6, Janesville, Wisconsin
  2. ^ a b "Rhea Mitchell (1890 - 1957)". Find A Grave. Retrieved July 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Rhea Mitchell in household of * N Mitchell, Precinct 44 Portland city Ward 9, Multnomah, Oregon, United States; citing sheet 4B, family 88, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,350.". U.S. Census, 1900. January 22, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d Wadleigh, Ryan (July 4, 2013). "Silent film actress: Rhea Mitchell". Ryan's Dead Ancestors. Retrieved July 1, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b The Moving Picture World, Vol. 29 (1916) Chalmers Publishing Company, New York
  6. ^ "Unique Theater", Marshfield Times (April 26, 1916) p4, Marshfield, Wisconsin
  7. ^ "Brilliant Picture to Close Its Show Tomorrow Night". San Jose News. July 17, 1936. p. 27. Retrieved July 1, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "Ex-Star Slain, Jail Houseboy" (September 17, 1957) Long Beach, California Press-Telegram p 1.
  9. ^ Los Angeles Times, "Ex-Actress Strangled", September 17, 1957, Page 38.
  10. ^ "Rhea Mitchell". University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved July 2, 2016. 

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