Article Written by Richard Cowan. Cowan is a former NORML National Director and brings you Marijuana and the Movies every week under his syndicated column Marijuana Weekly News.
Robert Mitchum was on his way to being one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in 1948, when he was very rudely interrupted by getting busted for marijuana. Tinseltown’s postwar hypocrisy was at its peak, and so was the corruption of the Los Angeles police. Two detectives hid in the bushes for hours watching through the window of an actress’s home.
Must see a contemporary newspaper account from St. Petersburg Times.
Mitchum was under contract to RKO, owned by the enormously rich and powerful Howard Hughes, who was a big fan and also had a major financial interest in Mitchum’s career. Hughes, who was famously germaphobic, actually went to the jail to visit him.
Mitchum ended up serving two months in jail where photographs of him mopping the floor were featured in the national media. When he got out, Mitchum became even cooler when he said, “I've been happy in jail. Nobody envied me. Nobody wanted anything from me. Nobody wanted my bars or the bowl of pudding they shoved at me through the slot. I did my work and they let me alone."
Mitchum went on to become one of the biggest stars and lived to be 79. Ironically, he died of lung cancer after a lifetime of heavy tobacco smoking.