James Mitchell 1922- 2010

The soap opera world has lost another star last week as James Mitchell who played Palmer Cortlandt on “All My Children” died from Chronic Pulmonary disease.

However Mitchell was not solely an actor. In the ‘40s he began his career as a dancer with the likes of Lester Horton. And in the ‘50s he was a premiere dancer in Agnes De Mille’s modern dance troupe. With his shocking black hair and the beautiful-clean lines of a dancer Mitchell exuded sexiness in his performances. Combined with his good looks Mitchell had amazing talent. He assisted in choreographing several dances and stage productions including “Brigadoon” and “Paint Your Wagon.” His ability as a dancer and choreographer garnished him several dance awards in the late 1940s.

Mitchell considered himself an actor who used dance as part of his repertoire. This served him well as his sultry style transferred successfully to films such as “The Band Wagon” with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse and “Oklahoma.” He also had several non dancing roles such as 1977’s “The Turning Point” starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft. Two years later Mitchell got the role that would associate him with the world of daytime for nearly 30 years – Palmer Cortlandt.

On “All My Children” Palmer Cortlandt was the tycoon with a mysterious past who was involved in many of the best known storylines of the show. When rival Adam Chandler (David Canary) came on the scene the audience found out that the sophisticated Palmer Cortlandt was in reality Pete Cooney – who came from a place where dirt poor would have been a step up. Through it all Mitchell played this character with a multitude of notes that would have viewers talking to their screens on a daily basis. Recently for the 40th anniversary of the series he made a brief appearance. Also a character based on his friendship with Agnes De Mille is part of a ballet that opened in the fall of 2009.

Dancer, actor, teacher – Mitchell did it all with a style and grace that will be sorely missed.

About Donna-Lyn Washington 595 Articles
Donna-lyn Washington has a M.A. in English from Brooklyn College. She is currently teaching at Kingsborough Community College where her love of comics and pop culture play key parts in helping her students move forward in their academic careers. As a senior writer for ReviewFix she has been able to explore a variety of worlds through comics, film and television and has met some interesting writers and artists along the way. Donna-lyn does a weekly podcast reviewing indie comics and has also contributed entries to the 'Encyclopedia of Black Comics,’ the academic anthology ‘Critical Insights: Frank Yerby’ and is the editor for the upcoming book, ‘Conversations With: John Jennings.’

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