James Mitchell

James Mitchell

Also known as: Jimmy Mitchell


Born: February 29, 1920
Sacramento, California

Died: January 22, 2010
Los Angeles, California

James Mitchell, who was a major interpreter of the work of Agnes de Mille and spent 30 years playing Palmer Cortlandt on the soap opera "All My Children," died Jan. 22, 2010. He had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease complicated by pneumonia. He was 89. Mr. Mitchell first made his mark as a dancer, learning his craft at the school of the famed teacher and choreographer, Lester Horton, and afterwards joining his company for four years.

Obituary: Horton took him to New York to found a new company, but after the venture failed, he successfully auditioned for a role in the Agnes de Mille-choreographed musical Bloomer Girl. Mr. Mitchell and de Mille would work together for 25 years on a variety of projects. De Mille's biographer, Carol Easton, describes him as the "quintessential male de Mille dancer" and, in one of her autobiographical volumes, de Mille herself said of Mitchell that he had "probably the strongest arms in the business, and the adagio style developed by him and his partners has become since a valued addition to ballet vocabulary."

Other Broadway projects with de Mille included Brigadoon (for which he won a Theatre World Award) and Paint Your Wagon. He was in 1945's Billion Dollar Baby, which was choreographed by Jerome Robbins and Carnival, choreographed by Gower Champion. He also acted in national tours of The King and I, Funny Girl, and The Threepenny Opera.

Mr. Mitchell was the winner of the Donaldson Award for Best Male Dancer of the Year in 1947 for his Harry Beaton in Brigadoon; and was nominated in the same category for Billion Dollar Baby and Paint Your Wagon. He had late Broadway credit in 1974, playing Williams Desmond Taylor in Mack & Mabel. His most notable film roles were Paul Byrd, the (ironically) largely non-dancing choreographer character who competes with Fred Astaire for the affections of Cyd Charisse in "The Band Wagon," and he was Curly in the dream sequence of "Oklahoma!" in 1955.

Much of his prowess as a dance was probably lost on the soap fans who watched him for decades as a scheming tycoon on "All My Children." He acted on the show from 1979 to 2009. He was nominated for Daytime Emmy Awards in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1989. He never won.

Despite having given up dancing for the small screen, he never lost his interest in the stage. "When I go to the theatre to watch dance, my muscles twitch," he once said. "I can't help but respond physically to music and the choreography. It simply moves me. There's no doubt that the dancer is still present inside."



Playbill Cover - Mack & Mabel Mack & Mabel
Oct. 6, 1974 - Nov. 30, 1974
William Desmond Taylor Performer
Playbill Cover - The Deputy The Deputy
Feb. 26, 1964 - Nov. 28, 1964
Doctor Performer
Playbill Cover - Carnival! Carnival!
Apr. 13, 1961 - Jan. 5, 1963
Marco the Magnificent Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - First Impressions First Impressions
Mar. 19, 1959 - May 30, 1959
Captain Wickham Performer
Who's Who
Sep. 11, 1957 - Sep. 29, 1957
Jigger Craigin Performer
Livin' the Life
Apr. 27, 1957 - May 19, 1957
Injun Joe Performer
Playbill Cover - Paint Your Wagon Paint Your Wagon
Nov. 12, 1951 - Jul. 19, 1952
Pete Billings Performer
    Asst. to the Choreographer
Playbill Cover - Brigadoon Brigadoon
Mar. 13, 1947 - Jul. 31, 1948
Harry Beaton Performer
Playbill Cover - Billion Dollar Baby Billion Dollar Baby
Dec. 21, 1945 - Jun. 29, 1946
Rocky (who dances) Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Bloomer Girl Bloomer Girl
Oct. 5, 1944 - Apr. 27, 1946
Dancer Performer

Inside the Playbill (4)

See more Who's Who


Theatre World

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1947 Theatre World Award Brigadoon Winner
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