Photo: Yolanda Perez/ABC
Saturday, January 23, 2010 12:05 AM ET | By Angela Rosa
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Accomplished actor and dancer, James Mitchell has died at the age of 89.
“All My Children” star James Mitchell passed away on Friday, January 22, 2010. According to Soap Opera Digest complications from pneumonia aggravated a pre-existing condition (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and proved to be too much for the elderly actor to fight.
Mitchell was born in Sacramento, California on February 29, 1920. Prior to joining the ABC soap, Mitchell was best known for his work in musical theatre. The accomplished dancer appeared in Broadway productions of “Billion Dollar Baby,” “Bloomer Girl,” “Brigadoon,” “Paint Your Wagon,” and “Carnival!” to name a few and worked closely with theatre and dance legend Agnes de Mille. Mitchell’s career as a film star never really took off, but he did notably appear as Dream Curly in de Mille’s 1955 film-musical “Oklahoma!” His last appearance on the big-screen was in 1977′s “The Turning Point.” Mitchell’s career in television proved to be more fruitful, the actor burst into the television scene in 1964 as Captain Lloyd Griffin on the CBS daytime drama “The Edge of Night.” In 1969, the actor moved on to the CBS soap opera “Where the Heart Is” where he played the lead character, Julian Hathaway, for the sudsers entire run.
The role that most daytime fans will remember Mitchell for is that of the villainous Palmer Cortlandt on “AMC,” a role that the actor played from 1979 to 2010. Mitchell earned seven Daytime Emmy nominations for the popular role. The popular actor also earned legions of fans as Adam Chandler’s match and daughter Nina and niece Dixie’s overbearing father/uncle (therefore Cliff Warner and Tad Martin’s worst nightmare). The filthy rich character, owner of Cortlandt Electronics, had a memorable romance with the lovely Daisy Murdoch, Nina’s mother, and then later with partner in crime, Opal Cortlandt, that produced son Peter Cortlandt. When not being manipulated by the likes of his last nutty wife, Vanessa, a softer Palmer came to the surface in the last decade – spending much of his time trying to reel in his bratty son Pete, straighten up his reckless grandson Bobby, and being a surrogate father and grandfather of sorts to the troubled Kane women. Mitchell’s schedule at “AMC” decreased in the last several years due to health issues and he officially retired from “AMC” in 2008. The show and Mitchell, who had relocated to the warmer climate of California, worked together to tape an appearance for the soaps 40th Anniversary episode (“AMC” was still being produced in New York at the time). That episode, which aired on January 5, 2010, marks the actor’s last appearance on the soap he spent more than 30 years on. There is no word out on how “AMC” will address the loss, but it’s a good bet that the show will honor James Mitchell and Palmer Cortlandt on-screen sometime in the spring.
Soap Opera Network sends our condolences to Mitchell’s family, friends, and fans. Rest in Peace, James Mitchell (and Palmer Cortlandt).
“All My Children” airs Weekdays on ABC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Check local listings. “AMC” now also airs online at ABC.com and can be accessed 24/7.