Thomas John Mitchell
July 11, 1892
Elizabeth, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||December 17, 1962 (aged 70)|
|Resting place||Chapel of the Pines Crematory|
Ann Stuart Breswer
(m. 1915; div. 1935)
(m. 1937; div. 1939)
|Relatives||James P. Mitchell (nephew)|
Thomas John Mitchell (Irish: Tomás Mistéal; July 11, 1892 – December 17, 1962) was an American actor and writer. Among his most famous roles in a long career are those of Gerald O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, Doc Boone in Stagecoach, Uncle Billy in It's a Wonderful Life, Pat Garrett in The Outlaw, and Mayor Jonas Henderson in High Noon. Mitchell was the first male actor to gain the Triple Crown of Acting by winning an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony Award.
Mitchell was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the films, The Hurricane (1937), and Stagecoach (1939), winning for the latter. He was nominated three times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series in 1952 and 1953, for his role in the medical drama The Doctor, and won in 1953. While he was nominated again in 1955, for an appearance on a weekly anthology series, he did not win. Mitchell won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, in 1953, for his role as Dr Downer in the musical comedy Hazel Flagg, based on the 1937 screwball comedy film Nothing Sacred, rounding out the Triple Crown of Acting. In addition to being an actor, he was also a director, playwright, and screenwriter.
Mitchell was born to Irish immigrants in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He came from a family of journalists and civic leaders. Both his father and brother were newspaper reporters, and his nephew, James P. Mitchell, later served as Dwight Eisenhower's Secretary of Labor. In the 1952 presidential election, Mitchell, a Republican, supported Eisenhower's campaign. The younger Mitchell also became a newspaper reporter after graduating from St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth. However, Mitchell soon found that he enjoyed writing theatrical skits much more than chasing scoops. In 1927 Mitchell joined The Lambs.
He became an actor in 1913, at one point touring with Charles Coburn's Shakespeare Company. Even while playing leading roles on Broadway into the 1920s, Mitchell continued to write. One of the plays he co-authored, Little Accident, was eventually made into a film (three times) by Hollywood. Mitchell's first credited screen role was in the 1923 film Six Cylinder Love.
Following this performance, he was much in demand in Hollywood. That same year, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Hurricane, directed by John Ford.
Over the next few years, Mitchell appeared in many significant films. Forty-three of the fifty-nine films in which he acted were made in the 10-year period from 1936 to 1946. Considered one of the finest character actors in film, in 1939 alone he had key roles in Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Only Angels Have Wings, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Gone with the Wind. While probably better remembered as Scarlett O'Hara's loving but doomed father in Gone with the Wind, it was for his performance as the drunken Doc Boone in Stagecoach, co-starring John Wayne (in Wayne's breakthrough role), that Mitchell won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. In his acceptance speech, he quipped, "I didn't know I was that good". Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Mitchell acted in a wide variety of roles in productions such as 1940's Swiss Family Robinson, 1942's Moontide, 1944's The Keys of the Kingdom (as an atheist doctor) and High Noon (1952) as the town mayor. He is probably best known to audiences today for his role as sad sack Uncle Billy in Capra's Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946) with James Stewart.
From the 1950s and into the early 1960s, Mitchell worked primarily in television, appearing in a variety of roles in some of the most well-regarded early series of the era, including Playhouse 90, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater (in a pilot episode that became the CBS series Johnny Ringo), and Hallmark Hall of Fame productions. In 1954, he starred in the television version of the radio program, Mayor of the Town. In 1955, he played Kris Kringle in The 20th Century-Fox Hour version of The Miracle on 34th Street opposite Teresa Wright and MacDonald Carey. In 1957 he hosted The O. Henry Playhouse. In 1959, he starred in thirty-nine episodes of the syndicated television series, Glencannon, which had aired two years earlier in the United Kingdom.
Mitchell's last role was on the stage, portraying Columbo, a detective character previously played by Bert Freed on an episode of The Chevy Mystery Show and later made famous on NBC and ABC television by Peter Falk.
Mitchell died at age 70 from peritoneal mesothelioma in Beverly Hills, California. He was cremated at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory and his ashes were placed in private vaultage. As a part of a 2023 cataloging project of the remains in the vaults, Mitchell's family confirmed his wishes that his ashes remain in vaultage and not be made publicly accessible.
- Little Accident (1928) – play Little Accident
- Papa Sans le Savoir (1932) – play Little Accident
- All of Me (1934) - Dialogue Director
- All of Me (1934) - Screenplay
- Life Begins with Love (1937) - Screenplay
- Little Accident (1939) – play Little Accident
- Casanova Brown (1944) – play Little Accident
- Peter's Baby (1961) – play Little Accident (uncredited)
|1950||Showtime, U.S.A.||Performer||Episode: "American Red Cross Drive"|
|1951||Celanese Theatre||Uncle Sid||Episode: "Ah, Wilderness!"|
|1951||Armstrong Circle Theatre||Performer||Episode: "The Long View"|
|1951-1952||Tales of Tomorrow||Prof. Frederick Vaneck/Captain Nemo||3 episodes|
|1951-1952||Betty Crocker Star Matinee||Performer||2 episodes|
|1951-1952||Pulitzer Prize Playhouse||Mr. Antrobus||2 episodes|
|1951-1952||Studio One in Hollywood||Various Roles||4 episodes|
|1951-1956||Lux Video Theatre||Various Roles||6 episodes|
|1952||Robert Montgomery Presents||Performer||Episode: "The Farmer's Hotel"|
|1952||Lights Out||Performer||Episode: "The Eyes from San Francisco"|
|1952||Gulf Playhouse||Performer||Episode: "Mr. Nothing"|
|1952||Suspense||Henry Brown/Dr. Paul Morgan||2 episodes|
|1953||The Doctor||Matthew Day||Episode: "Desk of Matthew Day"|
|1953||The Backbone of America||Fred Tupple||Television Movie|
|1953||Of Time and the River||William Olivier Grant||Television Movie|
|1953||Of Time and the River Part II||Television Movie|
|1954||Omnibus||Shark Wicks||Episode: "Nobody's Fool"|
|1954||Medallion Theatre||Performer||Episode: "The Gentle Deception"|
|1954||Fireside Theatre||Performer||Episode: "Afraid to Live"|
|1954-1955||Mayor of the Town||Mayor Thomas Russell||39 episodes|
|1954-1955||General Electric Theatre||Mender McClure||2 episodes|
|1954-1955||The United States Steel Hour||Scotty/Silas Lapham||2 episodes|
|1954-1957||The Ford Television Theatre||Various Roles||6 episodes|
|1955||Damon Runyon Theater||Sylvester||Episode: "It Comes Up Money"|
|1955||The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn||Pap Finn||Television Movie|
|1955||Screen Directors Playhouse||Dr. Joseph H. Walton||Episode: "The Final Tribute"|
|1955||The Alcoa Hour||Cap. Jarvis||Episode: "Undertow"|
|1955||The 20th Century Fox Hour||Kris Kringle||Episode: "The Miracle on 34th Street"|
|1955-1956||The Star and the Story||Various Roles||3 episodes|
|1955-1956||Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||Carl Smith/Sam Hawkins||2 episodes|
|1956||Celebrity Playhouse||Cal Logan||Episode: "They Flee By Night"|
|1956||Chevron Hall of Stars||Performer||2 episodes|
|1956||Telephone Time||Andrew Hamilton||2 episodes|
|1957||The O. Henry Playhouse||O. Henry||39 episodes|
|1958||Shirley Temple's Storybook||Emperor||Episode: "The Nightingale"|
|1958||Kraft Television Theatre||Whitehall||Episode: "The Velvet Trap"|
|1958||Playhouse 90||Mr. Carson||Episode: "Natchez"|
|1958-1961||Zane Grey Theater||Various Roles||3 episodes|
|1959||Laramie||Judge Matthew Hedrick||Episode: "Dark Verdict"|
|1959||Goodyear Theatre||Sarge||Episode: "The Lady Bug"|
|1959||Glencannon||Capt. Colin Glencannon
Sgt. Harry Mork
|1959||The Untouchables||Milo Sullivan||Episode: "The Underworld Bank"|
|1960||Sunday Showcase||Performer||Episode: "The Secret of Freedom"|
|1960||The Right Man||Grover Cleveland||Television Movie|
|1961||The Joke and the Valley||Truman Winters||Television Movie|
|1961||Adventures in Paradise||Hubert Willis||Episode: "A Penny a Day"|
|1961||Stagecoach West||Ethan Blount||Episode: "Image of a Man"|
|1961||Our American Heritage||Joseph Murray||Episode: "The Invisible Teddy"|
|1916||Under Sentence||Performer||Roi Cooper Megrue
Irvin S. Cobb
|Harris Theatre, Broadway|
|1917||Nju||Performer||Osip Dymov||Bandbox Theatre, Broadway|
|1918||Crops and Croppers||Performer||Theresa Helburn||Belmont Theatre, Broadway|
|1918||Redemption||Artyomyeff||Leo Tolstoy||Plymouth Theatre, Broadway|
|1919||Dark Rosaleen||Performer||W. D. Hepenstall
|Belasco Theatre, Broadway|
|1920||Not So Long Ago||Sam Robinson||Arthur Richman||Booth Theatre, Broadway|
|1921||The Playboy of the Western World||Christy Mahon||John Millington Synge||Bramhall Playhouse, Broadway|
|1923||Kiki||Adolphe||David Belasco||Belasco Theatre, Broadway|
|1926||The Wisdom Tooth||Bemis||Marc Connelly||Little Theatre, Broadway|
|1926||Glory Hallelujah||—||Thomas Mitchell||Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway|
|1927||Blood Money||James Bolton||George Middleton||Hudson Theatre, Broadway|
|1927-28||Nightstick||Tommy Glennon||John Wray, J.C. Nugent
Elaine Sterne Carrington
|Selwyn Theatre, Broadway|
|1928-29||Little Accident||Norman Overbeck||Thomas Mitchell||Morosco Theatre, Broadway|
|1931||Cloudy with Showers||Peter Hammill||Thomas Mitchell|
|1932||Riddle Me This||McKinley||Daniel N. Rubin||John Golden Theatre, Broadway|
|1932||Clear All Wires||Buckley Joyce Thomas||Bella Spewack
& Sam Spewack
|Times Square Theatre, Broadway|
|1933||Honeymoon||Bob Taylor||Samuel Chotzinoff
& George Backer
|Little Theatre, Broadway |
Vanderbilt Theatre, Broadway
|1935||Fly Away Home||James Masters||Dorothy Bennett
& Irving White
|48th Street Theatre, Broadway|
|1935||Stick-in-the-Mud||Paw Meriwether||Frederick Hazlitt Brennan|
|1941||Crazy with the Heat||Performer||Sam E. Werris, Mack Davis,
Max Liebman, Don Herold
& Arthur Sheekman,
|44th Street Theatre, Broadway|
|1947-49||An Inspector Calls||Inspector Goole||J.B. Priestly||Booth Theatre, Broadway|
|1949||The Biggest Thief in Town||Bert Hutchins||Dalton Trumbo||Mansfield Theatre, Broadway|
|1949-50||Death of a Salesman||Willy Loman (replacement)||Arthur Miller||Morosco Theatre, Broadway|
|1953||Hazel Flagg||Dr. Downer||Ben Hecht||Mark Hellinger Theatre, Broadway|
|1960||Cut of the Axe||Rollie Evans||Sheppard Kerman||Ambassador Theatre, Broadway|
|1931||Cloudy with Showers||Morosco Theatre, Broadway|
|1932-33||Honeymoon||Little Theatre, Broadway |
Vanderbilt Theatre, Broadway
|1933||Forsaking All Others||Times Square Theatre, Broadway|
|1933||Twenty-five Dollars an Hour||Theatre Masque, Broadway|
|1935||Fly Away Home||48th Street Theatre, Broadway|
|1935||Something Gay||Morosco Theatre, Broadway|
|1935-36||At Home Abroad||Winter Garden Theatre, Broadway|
|1935||Stick-in-the-Mud||48th Street Theatre, Broadway|
|1953||Theatre Guild on the Air||A Square Peg|
|1945||Suspense||1945-02-22 John Barby and Son|
Awards and nominations
|1937||Academy Awards||Best Supporting Actor||The Hurricane||Nominated|
|1939||National Board of Review||Best Actor||Nominated|
|1940||New York Film Critics Circle||Best Actor||The Long Voyage Home||Nominated|
|1940||National Board of Review||Best Actor||Won|
|1952||Primetime Emmy Awards||Best Actor||—||Nominated|
|1955||Best Actor in a Single Performance||The Ford Television Theatre||Nominated|
|1953||Tony Award||Best Actor in a Musical||Hazel Flagg||Won|
- He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for his work in television at 6100 Hollywood Boulevard, and a second star for his work in motion pictures at 1651 Vine Street.
- Riddle, Joe (May 8, 2020). "Thomas Mitchell's five-star career". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
- Life. October 19, 1953. "Labor gets a new secretary". p. 56.
- Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 34, Ideal Publishers
- "About The Lambs". The Lambs. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
- Monush, Barry. (2003) The Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 509. ISBN 1-55783-551-9.
- Wilson, Steve (2014). The Making of Gone With the Wind. University of Texas Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-292-76126-1.
- "Thomas Mitchell, Actor, Dead; Star of Stage and Screen, 70; Actor's Career in the Movies and in Theater Spanned a Half Century Appeared in Many Films". New York Times. 18 December 1962. p. 4. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
- OPENING THE VAULT: The Story of Chapel of the Pines
- Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Walk of Fame Stars-Thomas Mitchell". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
- Alistair, Rupert (2018). "Thomas Mitchell". The Name Below the Title : 65 Classic Movie Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age (softcover) (First ed.). Great Britain: Independently published. pp. 176–179. ISBN 978-1-7200-3837-5.