Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mitchum and Silva: The Story Behind the Photograph

It was early 1954 and Robert Mitchum had just been invited to the Cannes Film Festival in France. He was excited to take his wife Dorothy on their first trip to Europe. The marriage between Dorothy and Robert had always been a rocky one. Robert was a married man in name but a bachelor at heart and couldn't turn away the women who would just throw themselves at him. He wanted to be on good terms with Dorothy because she was his rock, his constant and the mother of his children. So off they went to France for what I'm sure they hoped would be a exciting yet relaxing vacation on the French Riviera.

What Mitchum discovered when he reached Cannes was utter pandemonium. At that point in his career, he was a big time celebrity and everyone was salivating for a taste, a glimpse of Robert Mitchum the major movie star. Mitchum was inundated with requests for photo shoots and appearances. The Mitchums went to Lerins Island for a special photo shoot. Robert dressed up in his finest tropical wear and posed for photographs while Dorothy watched. Photogs thought it would be a good idea to pose the big name Mitchum with an up-and-coming starlet Simone Silva. Neither had met the other previous to this appearance nor had there been plans to work with each other in the future. It was just a case of two good looking actors hamming it up for the camera.

Mitchum and Silva were playful in front of the photographs but Mitchum kept it decent knowing full well that his wife Dorothy was watching. When all of a sudden, Silva rips her top off baring her bosom to everyone (mind you there was a big crowd of fans there too!). Mithcum was mortified and tried to cover her up. But it was too late. The photographers got what they wanted: photos of two stars plus a scandal to boot.

Silva later said about the incident: "As long as sex is box office and I keep my figure, I'm out to be the sexiest things on two legs. So I took off the scarf."

While Mitchum continued to be a big star for decades to follow, Silva met an early demise only 3 years later. Her restrictive diet, which she did to maintain a starlet-friendly figure, was too much for her body and she suffered a stroke that eventually killed her. Mitchum and Silva were truly opposites. Mitchum didn't care and Silva cared too much.

information comes from Lee Server's biography: Robert Mitchum: "Baby I Don't Care"


  1. LOL, that was interesting, thanks for sharing.

  2. If only Mitchum had ripped his own shirt off in a show of support!

  3. How interesting! I had no idea about Silva's sad end :(

  4. That is a sad tale about Silva--but a fascinating back story!

  5. That was very interesting. Of course, my favourite Mitchum story is the one about the kiss with Janet Leigh on the set of Holiday Affair...

  6. Clara - I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    Mitchum - Yes, and maybe Dorothy should have too?

    Meredith - It is quite sad isn't it? I'm not sure it fit the tone of my post but I couldn't help but mention it.

    John - Maybe this could be considered a "front story". Ha ha.

    Mercurie - Did I tell that story?!

  7. Wow, so interesting! I've never seen this photo before. So fascinating that photos can have such drama behind them.

  8. sorry but when i look at this pic i hear Mitchum saying "No no no, not like that, like THIS!!

  9. No you never told that story. I've read it in a Janet Leigh biography and elsewhere. I always thought it was so funny.

  10. I don't recall this particular story. Quite interesting.


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