Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Case of the Robert Mitchum Look-a-Like

My good friend Kevin invited me to his office's annual Christmas party. His invitation included promises to meet his fellow co-workers, to have an official tour of the office, to imbibe a few drinks, to eat a few h'or dourves and to meet a young man who looks like Robert Mitchum. Robert Mitchum?! I couldn't quite believe my ears. No one looks like Robert Mitchum, except for... well... Robert Mitchum. The only exceptions would be his direct offspring, as is the case when you see Robert Mitchum side-by-side with his son James in Thunder Road (1958). Otherwise, Mitchum has just got too unusual a face for it to exist anywhere else.

His eyes were sad, slightly bulbous with drooping eyelids. It gave him a brooding and melancholy appearance. His face was heart-shaped, square and broad at the brow, narrowing on its way down to the chin. His nose had a smooth forward slope that broke off in the middle into a downward slant. His lips were soft and flat and almost unremarkable until he broke it out into one of his rare smiles that were as charming as they were alarming. And the piece de resistance, the dimple. Oh that wonderful little dimple planted just perfectly in the middle of his chin. While Cary Grant's chin looked like a women's derriere, Mitchum's chin looks like an angel had touched it and left the dimple in its stead. It was just glorious. Robert Mitchum's look was a kind unto its own.

So when I was chatting away at the party, swirling a glass of sauvignon blanc in my hand, Kevin alerted me to the fact that Robert Mitchum's doppelganger stood directly behind me. I was excited to see him but was skeptical too. I was casual about it and slowly scanned the room until I spotted him. I'm sure my eyes must have widened with surprise when they fell upon his face. He was the young, contemporary, fresh-faced version of Robert Mitchum. The heart-shaped face, the sad eyes, the broken nose, they were all there. The lips were thin and weak and there was no dimple but alas we can't have it all. I looked away, slightly embarassed but terribly intrigued.

As the party progressed, I met various people, all of them friendly yet none of them looked quite like a movie star the way he did, with the exception of one very pleasant woman who had a passing resemblance to a young Goldie-Hawn. And at one point I was told I looked like Rose-McGowan. Then I met the Robert Mitchum look-a-like. Kevin introduced me to him and we shook hands. He was quite striking to look at but his young masculine bravado was a bit off-putting. Kevin managed to work in the name "Robert Mitchum" and the film Out of the Past (1947) in to the conversation, albeit briefly, and he seemed to have not noticed the references. I wonder if he knew who Robert Mitchum was at all. This young man may very well be oblivious to the fact that he carries with him the face of a legendary screen star. Or he might have not been listening very intently to the conversation because it was evident that he had had a few beers at that point. It was his ever-reddening eyes that betrayed him.

The eyes. I have to elaborate on those. They were pretty fixed on Kevin as he was the one of interest in the conversation. Yet ever so often they would travel to my eyes and then, with a lack of grace or even rudimentary shame, to my decolletage. I was slightly unsettled by these glances but I would expect such attentions from an ambitious, young, hot-blooded professional man. Especially one who had been drinking. I thought to myself, "would Robert Mitchum have looked at my decolletage?" And my answer was, "of course he would!" Mitchum appreciated the ladies but he would have been much more sly about it. His eyes would have had the appearance of looking at mine while the whole time they were really looking at a region further below. Or the glances would have occurred when my eyes were turned away, so I wouldn't have noticed. Robert Mitchum was smooth not obvious, unlike his contemporary.

A few words were then spoken and we parted with Robert Mitchum's look-a-like. Thoughts reeled through my head, aided by the wine and I knew that I had to share such a story with my fellow classic film fans. And with Kevin, who enjoyed the encounter as much as I did.

Additional note: The Cary Grant comment comes from Marc-Eliot's biography of the actor. I didn't make it up, no matter how much I wish I did.


  1. Fun story (with an interesting edge), but I'll never look at Cary Grant quite the same way again....

    J Hayes

  2. Would that be Rose McGowan with or without the machine gun leg? ;0)

  3. Why isn't anyone commenting on the Robert Mitchum part of the story?

    John - I haven't been able to look at Cary Grant normally for a few years now.

    Carrie - I hope it's Rose McGowan pre-plastic surgery.

  4. Jeeze, how could anyone not know they looked similar to one of the Hollywood greats? If it was me I would dress the part and work on the smooth easy going demeanor. Too much.

  5. Re: "He was quite striking to look at but his young masculine bravado was a bit off-putting"-- it actually might be best if he doesn't know how much he looks like a film star.... I knew a fellow once-- some gal had told him he looked like Gary Cooper (couldn't see it myself)-- anyway, he became quite insufferable about the whole business.

    J Hayes

  6. Ah...sorry the Mitchum look-a-like was only Mitchumesque in the physical sense.

    I HATE guys who aren't smooth enough to wait until we've turned our head to check out our, uh...'decolletage'. :)

    Can you imagine what they'd do it we just stood there staring at their nether-regions the whole time? (sigh) Might have worked on the Mitchum kid, though. He'd probably like it and ask you out...then you could have married him, had a son that looked like Mitchum, then dumped the un-smooth father.

    What that would accomplish, I don't know. Just having fun imagining it. :)

    I want my son to look like Henry Fonda. Does Kevin know any Fonda-look-a-likes? ;)

  7. P.S. You do have kind of a Rose McGowen look...but classier, I think. Every time I watch The Essentials, I want to jump into the TV with a bottle of hairdye and fix that orange/brown mop of hers! ;)


  9. That's crazy! I wish I could meet someone who looked like an old movie star! However, I think I would've been rather disappointed if he kept looking below the neck.

    P.S. There is a sweet picture of Mitchum on my post "Fun With Photos" that you might want to check out : )

  10. No one ever looks at my decolletage. Ever.

  11. Hi Raquel,

    Apart from your overall descriptions of Mitchum's features, I think my favorite sentence in this essay is [The Robert Mitchum look-alike's sad eye] were pretty fixed on Kevin". Then you remind me that they switched over to your decolletage! Hopefully, that's just a red herring. I am pretty fascinated by our look-alike, as you know. If only we could have somehow finagled a way to take his picture and have him agree to be an illustration in this blog, in addition to being a subject.

    By the way, have you pondered which actors - living or dead - you would cast as your friends and acquaintances if your life were a movie? For instance, if my life were a movie, your part could be played by Rose McGowan. I also have people in my life I could see be played by people as diverse as Frances McDormand, Christina Ricci, Nicolas Cage, and of course Robert Mitchum. I would, of course, be played by the young Anthony Perkins.

    Just a thought.


  12. Bill - I think if I saw a Gary Cooper look-a-like I would faint straight away!

    Ginger - You are hilarious! ::writing note to self, find Ginger a Henry Fonda look-a-like::

    MTR - ummm???

    Genevieve - word!

    Jonathan - Being looked at there isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    Kevin - Are you in competition with me? I'm quite shocked. You want the Robert Mitchum look-a-like all to yourself don't you?

    And I don't really look like Rose McGowan do I? I'd rather not.

    While Ginger is dyeing her hair, I'm be using a syringe to suck out all the botox!

  13. Raquelle, I really enjoyed this little oevre. You are an accomplished writer! I would like you to have a "Raquelle column" in any paper of your choice. Ginger has proved to be splendid sidekick and can have a column as well... :)

  14. Yep. I know that feeling! I'm a London dude and strangely, tho the city is 12-million strong, if you go to the right places you see the same people over and again. Including a lady I see at the BFI (the main cinema for classic films here) who looks just like Louise Brooks. Seen her at a festival or two as well! Not got round to speaking to her ever but that black-haired bob is certainly appealing!

  15. Jonas - Thanks! I'm glad that a future "Raquelle column" would have at least one devoted reader!

    Man Without a Star - I've seen a sort-of Louise Brooks lookalike. And funny enough she works for a cinema!

  16. Did you ever see the Look-a-Like again? I would have loved to see a photo!! :-) Amazing that he really looked like Robert Mitchum. A Blackfoot-Irish-Norwegian mix must look special...! By the way, how was the voice of the young man?

    I noticed what a Look-a-Like Cary Grant's chin is some time ago ('How do you shave in there?' Charade) and I was SO glad I was finally able to forget about it. - Until I read your post, so thank you. haha ;-)

  17. Way back in 1970 I met a man who strongly resembled Robert Mitchum. This man was from the same town that Robert Mitchum was born in, Bridgeport, CT. I cannot remember his last name, but his first name was Augie and I think he said he was of Italian and Hungarian descent. I met him when he was on a business trip in Southern California and I was living in Sherman Oaks in the Valley. Somehow I feel he was related to Mitchum and most likely didn't know it.


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