Chris Mitchum, Former Blacklisted Conservative Actor, Enters U.S. House Race
Recently I had an opportunity to pose written questions to Chris Mitchum, veteran film actor and son of Robert Mitchum, and currently a candidate in the Republican primary for the 24th U.S. Congressional District of California. We first spoke about his acting career and the left's Hollywood blacklist, and then we turned to discussing California and national politics.
Mr. Mitchum recently made news at Big Hollywood, where Dan Gagliasso quoted the actor:
"I went 11 months without one interview," Mitchum remembers, despite the fact that the film industry was booming at the time. Finally, the casting director on the comedy "Steelyard Blues" gave Mitchum the heads up.
"You worked with John Wayne[," they would say. "]I can't even interview you."
The unpopularity of the Vietnam War and of John Wayne and his Green Berets movie, and the ascendency of such leftists as Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, changed the power structure in Hollywood in the late sixties and on into the seventies. In interviewing Mitchum, I learned how an entrepreneurial actor overcame this major unforeseen challenge to marketing his talents. Gagliasso noted that Mitchum, in 1971, had been given Photoplay's Gold Medal Award by Box Office Magazine "as one of the five stars of the future."
Chris Mitchum, in his own words, now expands on what happened back then.
While on the PA tour with Patrick Wayne for Big Jake, my agent contacted me that two Spaniards, Antonio Isasi (a director) and José de Vecuña (producer) wanted to meet with me. It was arranged that they would fly into New York City on Sunday and fly me up from Houston to New York to meet them for lunch. Patrick and I had a rest day in Houston. José owned distribution rights for Paramount in Spain (as well as Coca-Cola) and had bought Big Jake for Spain. We met at lunch, they gave me the script and I returned to Houston, reading it on the plane back. The script was great. Written by William F. Buckley's brother, Reid Buckley, it was a psychological action film entitled Summertime Killer. I played the title character. The cast was terrific and included Karl Malden, Olivia Hussey (just off Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet), plus a number of European stars. We shot throughout the summer of 1972 in Spain, France and Italy, and I returned to the US to wait...
Fortunately, Summertime Killer was the biggest grossing film in Spain in 1973, won a number of awards, and I was a major star there. Work offers from Spain started coming, so I packed up my family and moved to Spain for three years. It started a whole new career that ended up with my staring in some 60 films in 14 different countries, winning a Golden Horse (Chinese) and Golden Reel (Indonesian) awards. I didn't make another film in the US until 1976, and that was a western staring with Charlton Heston. That pretty much says it all.
While living in Spain, all the films I did had great distribution worldwide and I became a star in Asia. Alain Delon was always number one. Then Eastwood, Bronson or myself were 2, 3, and 4 depending on who had the latest picture released.
Mitchum also revealed that Kim Darby, "after starring with Duke (Wayne) in True Grit," his 1969 Academy Award-winning role, was soon blacklisted after the glow of that film's success wore off. The Internet Movie Database shows that after her 1971 role in the film The Grissom Gang, she went to television work and did not appear in a listed movie until 1995.
As far as Mitchum himself is concerned, "[r]egarding my subsequent career, I quote Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. 'I am big. It's the pictures that got small.'"
On to Politics
Chris Mitchum describes his primary opponent, Abel Maldonado, as "a RINO Republican who signed a 'No Tax Raise'" pledge and then later decided to vote "with the Democrats to pass the largest tax raise in California history." After that vote, Democrats, in turn, supported his appointment to lieutenant governor. He replaced Jerry Brown when the former governor decided to recycle himself by running for the top state position again in 2010. Maldonado was also "on the State Land Commission, [where] he was the swing vote against drilling from an existing platform under State rock-bed which would have brought the State $100 million a year in royalties." Abel was quoted as saying, "I want to see all the platforms down." With that vote, he also helped bring down the Republican pro-economic growth political platform in California.
The opponent for the Republican primary-winner will be incumbent Rep. Lois Capps. As Wikipedia reports:
David Wasserman, House editor of The Cook Political Report, predicts this will be a more difficult race, and local Republicans have confirmed that Capps is one of their top targets in California.
Capps was also a big supporter of ObamaCare and was openly critical of the Stupak Amendment that called for limitations on federal funding of abortions. She did manage to vote against one bill after she was for it -- or so she claims.
In 2012, she was the only member of the House to vote 'no' on Resolution 556 to condemn the government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani of the charge of apostasy. The resolution passed 417-1 with 15 non-votes. Her spokeswoman later said that Capps strongly supported the resolution, but cast the no vote by mistake.
Chris Mitchum, on the other hand, is supported by three Tea Party organizations, received the Santa Barbara Republican Central Committee recommendation, and has the endorsement of Rep. Tom McClintock. When I asked him what he would do to fight federal EPA restrictions on water use in California and across the country, this was his reply:
Obama's use of the EPA to enact Cap and Trade is near criminal. We will need to make sure such powers do not exist in the future for the President. The EPA restrictions need to be reversed and the EPA needs to be reviewed to see if it should even exist as it uses the environment as a political weapon. I'd look at the Dept. of Education, the EPA and other institutions to cut down or eliminate. Government waste and fraud need to be hunted out. There's so much that can be done!
There are, really, only two things we need to know about the Department of Education: that financial wizard President Jimmy Carter made it a Cabinet position in 1979, and in 2011, we saw the worst SAT scores in history! There is nothing in the Constitution that says the Federal government has the right to mess with education. The Department is on shaky legs as being Constitutional and should be closed, saving $77 billion a year and putting education back into the people's hands. Obama's policies, and Capps' support of them, will be the issue in the national election.
Changing the subject, Mitchum said he was more concerned about Obama's proposed cuts to the defense budget and their effects on the country and his district. "President Reagan showed us that peace through strength works. That's all we need to know."
And then Candidate Mitchum offered a unique solution to both unemployment (of veterans) and securing our borders.
I would hire 10,000 returning vets from Iraqi and Afghanistan for the Border Patrol. They are trained in both security and desert warfare. Plus, they could use the jobs. I'd use drones as well. Use E-Verify with strong penalties for employers who hire illegals. I'd cut Federal funding to any state welfare program that gives to illegals. I would consider work visas -- that would have to be renewed -- for those here and gainfully employed and I'd look at bringing back the bracero program. I would not grant amnesty.
When asked what he could do in Washington to discourage the utopian ideas of Gov. Brown and his equally utopian state legislature, Mitchum mentioned the success of energy supplier North Dakota. He then said, "Even Gov. Brown, when he sees the hundreds of millions the feds are making in royalties, will be persuaded to open up state development. Other than that, not much can be done except for the people of California to wake up and throw the bum out."
Further diversions like high-speed rail, such as the one planned for the Central Valley of California that is "only $25 billion" over its initial proposed cost at a total of $43 billion, are not the answer to what ails Mitchum's state and the country. The impoverished farmers -- and delta smelts -- will not be lining up to buy tickets from the Central Valley to Los Angeles. The dirty little secret that Chris Mitchum knows is that the real endangered species are the independent businessman and businesswoman.
Although many Californians believe that their state is headed for the utopia of Avatar, they would be wise to listen to an experienced movie insider like Chris Mitchum, who knows the difference between film industry-style accounting and the real numbers. And he knows that Californians -- and all Americans -- will soon have to give back their 3D glasses and leave the multiplex to face the harsh economic light of day.
If you would like to learn more about Chris Mitchum, go to chrismitchumforcongress.com.