Saturday, May 25, 2024

NY Film Festival Honoring Late Actor Robert Mitchum, Who Once Denied Holocaust in Famous Interview




The New York Film Festival has just announced a retrospective of the late actor Robert Mitchum.

Mitchum was a great actor, for certain. But my memory of him is clouded by a 1983 interview he gave to Esquire. In it, he denied the Holocaust happened. And that was among a slew of other invective racism and misogyny.

When asked about the six million who died in the Holocaust, Mitchem replied:

“So the Jews say,” He added. “I don’t know. People dispute that.” He added: “How do you say trust me in Jewish? F— you.”

Mitchum also recalled his boyhood in Philadelphia: “I had to go over and light the sabbath candles. I was the only goddamned gentile… I’d go to Mel Blumberg’s house. He had a rabbi uncle who’d read from the Old Testament about Angeles pissing on sinners who were, climbing Jacob’s ladder.”

mitchum liesToward the end of the interview, he asks writer Barry Rehfeld what he’s going to use for his story. “I know, they always use the sensational stuff. Me saying ‘Alvin Schwartz sucks.'” At another point in the interview, he tells another story using the word “hebe.”

The interview caused a firestorm. He later gave an apology saying he’d been somehow tricked into saying these things by the interviewer, that he was acting as his character from “That Championship Season,” the movie he was promoting.

Mitchum would have been 100 this year. He was 65 when he gave Rehfeld the interview. He didn’t claim later to be suffering from senility and he didn’t say he was drinking. He said what was on his mind. Esquire never retracted any part of the article.

Great actor? Sure. But film festival retrospective. Me, I’ll skip it.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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