Hollywood actor Millard Mitchell, who was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1903, when his American parents were residing here for work, always retained his Cuban citizenship, which he took to the film set of the classic Singin ‘in the Rain.
Mitchell was a popular radio actor in New York in the 1930s; his first film appearance was in commercials and after he moved to Los Angeles he worked on eight films from 1931 to 1936.
After a six-year estrangement from film work he returns in Mrs. and Mr. North (1942).
After WWII he shone in excellent films where he left the imprint of his characters characterized by their bodily expressions, psychological and sardonic and impassive discourses.
Perhaps the most famous of all this early stage it was Kiss of Death, 1947, starring Victor Mature, Richard Widmark, and Brian Donlevy, Coleen Gray and Karl Malden.
Millard Mitchell plays the role of Detective Shelby in that film that made history among noir movies by the superb role of Widmark as Tommy Udo, a psychopathic bully, and the scene where he throws the old invalid lady down the ladder.
In The Naked Spur (1953), Anthony Mann’s western, Mitchell achieved one of his most intense performances, since he adds to his character the entire director’s clichés, but takes its own personality and does a wonderful record in his role as jaded ragged gold digger that refuses to be the sidekick of either James Stewart and the smiling villain played by Robert Ryan.
With its superb performance in My Six Convicts (1952), a comedy-drama Argentinean filmmaker Hugo Fregonese based in Hollywood, the American born in Cuba achieved a coveted Golden Globe for supporting performance.
Mitchell worked as the honest and tough sheriff of Gunfighter (Henry King), another western in which Gregory Peck, a retired famous duelist, is shot on the back by a youngster who thinks he can profit from his death.
The punishment and contempt for the subject, reflected in a flurry of kicks brilliantly inflicted by Millard Mitchell is among the best passages of the film that, paradoxically, did not have good box office over the failure to females and other admirers of the mustache worn by Gregory Peck with the aim of breaking his classic clean shaven image.
Twelve O’Clock High (1949), war drama directed by celebrated Henry King (The Song of Bernadette, The Snows of Kilimanjaro) rejoined the duet Peck-Mitchell, the latter in the role chief commander of the highly-prized actor in role brigadier general who was an expert bombing Nazi Germany.
Winchester 73, by Anthony Mann, again with James Stewart in the leading role, has Mitchell as "High Spade", the friend of the star of Vertigo traveling with him to the violent Dodger City, where the super famous Wyatt Earp reigns, to a shooting contest in which the winner earns a coveted Winchester 73.
Mitchell shines in the role of effective Stewart’s alter ego, throughout the chase of evil Dutch Henry Brown, played by Stephen Mc Nally (the bad guy in Belinda), who steals the prize, in a film that inaugurated the era of "psychological westerns".
However, universal fame would come to his Cuban-born for his role as the magnanimous tycoon R. F. Simpson in the musical of Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, Singin ‘in the Rain (1952), which formed the legendary cast with Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Cid Charisse, the dancer of sexy legs and Puerto Rican Rita Moreno (Oscar for West Side Story).
Millard Mitchell’s career was prolific as an actor with multiple appearances on the Broadway stage, from 1925 to 1948, among which stands out as the most notable performance as Penny Arcade, where he shared roles with James Cagney and Joan Blondell.
Millard Mitchell, the Hollywood star born in Havana, Cuba, died on October 13 in 1953, at age 50 from lung cancer.