Robert Mitchum, Dead at 79

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LOS ANGELES: Robert Mitchum, for 50 years Hollywood's sleepy-eyed antihero, is dead at 79. Diagnosed in spring with lung cancer, Mitchum succumbed at 5 a.m. in his sleep Monday at his Santa Barbara County home, family spokesman Jerry Roberts said. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1917 as Robert Charles Duran Mitchum, he was one of Hollywood's earliest bad boys. He came from a deliciously checkered past of arrests, odd jobs, and wanderings, and in 1948, he was arrested for possession of marijuana at the home of a starlet. In interviews, Mitchum liked to blame his image on publicists, calling himself "the ugly leading man" who needed the myth to cover his "lack of glamour." After a best supporting actor nomination in 1945 for "The Story of G.I. Joe," Mitchum hit the A-list and worked constantly, starring in over 100 films, including "Cape Fear," "River of No Return," and "Ryan's Daughter." In all of them, he was Mitchum, from the film noir shadow-dwelling of his early stardom ("Out of the Past," "Where Danger Lives") to drama ("The Night of the Hunter") and western ("El Dorado" opposite a laconic John Wayne). He was Mitchum even on television's "The Winds of War," and he was Mitchum to the end, appearing as a rifle-toting mine director in 1996's "Dead Man" with Johnny Depp. But eventually, Hollywood unmistakability seemed to frustrate him, perhaps because his 50 years of stardom never got him the recognition of an Academy Award. "I always thought I had as much inspiration and as much tenderness as anyone else in this business," he said in 1983. "I always thought I could do better. But you don't get to do better, you get to do more."