"Isn't that awful? You sing your heart out and nobody... nobody ever listens."
Robert Mitchum is most popularly remembered as the Hollywood anti-hero and laconic "soul of film noir," and it was a persona he cultivated offscreen as well. As a teen during the Great Depression, he lived the vagrant life of a rail rider, landing him in a Georgia chain gang at age 14. He tried his hand at a number of jobs, including metal worker, prizefighter, ditch-digger, coal miner, and as a ghostwriter for Carroll Righter, "Astrologer to the Stars." He also dabbled in community theater groups and wrote original songs and nightclub routines for his sister to perform. Upon the birth of his first son, he tried settling down and worked as a jackhammer operator, but the stress of it caused him to temporarily go blind. Looking for work, he began taking jobs as a movie extra.
The result is a novelty record infinitely more interesting than anything Belafonte ever recorded. If Mitchum's faux-Trinidadian accent seems a curious counter-distinction to his more serious persona, his approach to the material is anything but kitsch. The banjo in "I Learn A Merengue, Mama" and the production in "Mama Looka Boo Boo" are examples of unusual arrangements in what makes for a surprisingly solid album.
Calypso Is Like So (1957)
When he appeared on "What's My Line" in 1965, nobody seemed aware that he was even a singer. "I had made a couple of records," Mitchum said. An incredulous woman asks, "Singing records?"
Mitchum later released a compilation of songs called That Man, Robert Mitchum Sings (1967).