Two days ago we asked what linked five of the top films of 1939.  True film buffs knew the answer:  Character actor Thomas Mitchell.

Often playing alcoholics, Mitchell was nominated for best supporting actor twice and was the first actor to win an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony. He was also a director, a playwright and a screenwriter. A very talented man.

But consider, FIVE memorable films in one year.

What are the titles, you ask?  Well, there was director William Dieterle’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame plus Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings with Cary Grant.  Then there was John Ford’s Stagecoach, a marvelous western with John Wayne. And don’t forget Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

And, oh yeah (we almost forgot), there was that little picture called Gone With The Wind. It was in the latter, portraying Scarlett O’Hara’s father, that Mitchell has the classic lines about Tara and Land Is The Only Thing That Matters.

And Mitchell won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the alcoholic “Doc”in Stagecoach.

His career flourished throughout the 40s and 50s.  He scored in hits such as It’s a Wonderful Life, and High Noon. When he turned his talents to TV he was equally successful.  He won an Emmy in 1952.

Then in 1953, he became the First Triple Crown Winner of Actors when he won a Tony for his performance in Hazel Flagg,the 1953 stage musical version of the classic 1937 film Nothing Sacred.

No surprise that when Mitchell came to Hollywood in 1935, at the relatively late age of 46, he had already established a solid foundation as a theater director and actor.  Studio bosses had a way of acknowledging talent when they saw it, and cast him almost immediately in substantial parts in good pictures.

Our triple crown winner — one of the great character actors in Hollywood history.


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