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Family For Joe aired from February until August 1990 on NBC.
For those who had forgotten the unsuccessful tv series careers of screen legends James Stewaet( The Jimmy Stewart Show), Henry Fonda ( The Smith Family), and George C. Scott ( Mr. President), 72 year old Robert Mitchum proved once again that movie stardom does not necessarily translate to the home screen. A Family For Joe would certainly have been forgettable without him. The premise was that 4 cute upper-middle-class kids had been suddenly orphaned. About to be split up and sent to foster homes, they located a cranky old homeless man named Joe ( Robert Mitchum), and offered him food, a home, and a decent lifestyle if he would live in their nice house and pose as their grandfather( this could only happen in a sitcom).Of course he took his new responsibilities more seriously than they expected, and amid the quips, little lessons in life were learned by all around the sunny kitchen table.
Appearing as the 4 kids were David Lascher as Nick; Juliette Lewis as Holly; Ben Savage ( younger brother of Wonder Years Fred Savage), as Chris; and Jessica Player as Mary. Roger ( Barry Gordon) was the helpful next-door neighbor, an air-traffic controller turned homemaker, and Leon was the dog.
The series pilot, a two-hour tele-film was telecast on February 25, 1990. Three of the kids were played by different actors in that movie: Chris Furrh as Nick; Maia Brewton as Holly; and Jarrad Paul as Chris
An Article from The New York Daily News
`A Family For Joe,` Mitchum`s First Series, To Premiere Sunday
February 24, 1990|By Kay Gardella, New York Daily News.
A large blowup of Robert Mitchum looking like an unshaven bum hung above his head as the dapperly dressed actor sat fielding questions about his new NBC series, ``A Family for Joe,`` which premieres with a two-hour pilot film Sunday night at 7 p.m.
From the looks of the picture-Mitchum as Joe-he has it made. He can roll out of bed, not shave and not have to make an early morning visit to makeup before going before the cameras.
``I don`t think I`ve worn makeup in 99 percent of my appearances in film,`` said the actor. ``As long as they don`t have to put a scar on me, or turn my hair green, I don`t wear makeup. . . . It just means I`m not playing a grotesque character.``
Mitchum as Joe Whitaker, a cantankerous homeless man, is sought out by four orphans to pose as their grandfather so that they won`t be sent to a foster home. With seven grandchildren of his own of different ages, Mitchum has had plenty of practice. Unlike W.C. Fields, who hated working with kids, Mitchum has no complaints about the four young people in the cast: Chris Furrh, Maia Brewton, Jarrad Paul and Jessica Player.
The seasoned actor is acerbic at times, and occasionally amusing, as he gives short shrift to questions, enforcing the image of being bored with press conferences. But, as with his work, he always makes his mark.
Why hasn`t he done a TV series before? ``Nobody ever asked me,`` he said offhandedly. Since it was so hard to believe an actor who made 100 films and starred in two outstanding miniseries, ``The Winds of War`` and ``War and Remembrance,`` wasn`t sought after, the question was repeated.
``OK,`` shrugged Mitchum, ``I lied.``
What he likes about his role, he said, aside from not wearing makeup, is that Joe ``is sort of reviving his life and his aims and appreciations.``
His character has been homeless for several years when the kids find him, but it wasn`t always thus. Producer Arnold Margolin supplied the history: ``He was in the Merchant Marines for 37 years, retired, came ashore, took his pension in a lump sum, and, because he had no roots, or family, started drinking. He woke up in the gutter a few years later, broke.``
For research, Mitchum had only to dip into his own past. ``I had a little experience with those conditions myself,`` he related, as he remembered being picked up for vagrancy back in the `30s at age 15 in Georgia.
``They had a ready answer for the homeless in those days,`` he said.
``They gave me 180 days on the chain gang. That`s how they dealt with it then.``
The actor, who explained that he left home because ``there wasn`t enough food to go around,`` said he was ``without a home and broke. A dangerous and suspicious character with no visible means of support. A vagrant. Homeless.`` Switching the subject back to his career, one film that stands out in his mind, he said, is ``Midway`` (1976). The the reason says a lot about Mitchum. ``The producer called and asked would I play Admiral whatever-his-name-is, and I asked how long it would be. `It`s 10 weeks with five weeks on an aircraft carrier,` he said. Having just come back from Vietnam, where I spent a couple of days on the Kittyhawk in the South China Sea, not the most pleasant experience, I turned it down.
``He called again and asked me to play Adm. Fletcher. I asked how long, and he said, `Five weeks with one week on an aircraft carrier out of Pensacola.` I again said no. He called back a third time and asked if I`d play Adm. Halsey. `How long is that?` I asked. He said, `It`s one day in bed.` I said, `You`ve got it!` ``
NBC is expected to announce soon when ``Joe`` will join the regular schedule.
An Article from Entertainment News from March 1990
Mitchum takes role as reluctant grandpa
BY IAN HARMER
HOLLYWOOD-Throughout a movie career that spans close to half a century, Robert Mitchum has managed to make the most of a facial expression that falls somewhere between menace and excruciating boredom.
Before TV sofened his image by casting him as a nice guy in the interminable ABC mini-series " Winds of War and Rememberance," his forte was imparting terror with a sneer -only rarely was he permitted to play it for laughter or tears.
Now, at the age of 72, Mitchum has allowed himself to be talked into an NBC sitcom that casts him as a reluctant grandpa to a bunch of adorable kids, and his reputation as a modern-day amalgam of W.C. Fields and Boris Karloff may be in serious jeopardy.
But to give him his due, he doesn't look at all happy about it.
" A Family for Joe" made its debut with a two-hour pilot in February , and has since been partially recast so that the series which joins NBC's weekly schedule this spring offers a different set of kids for Mitchum's character to browbeat.
The storyline serves up the man once adoringly known as " Old Snake Eyes" in an unlikely incarnation as a vagrant who is dragged from his cardboard box in the park by four youngsters whose parents have just been killed in an auto accident.
The kids are tipped off that they will have to be put into foster homes by the local child-care authorities and the four of them will almost certainly have to be split up.
Their solution is to find a deadbeat old man to play the grandfather they don't have, so that he can become their legal guardian and they can all live happily ever after under the same roof.
To the kids consternation , Joe takes his grandfatherly duties very seriously once he reluctantly agrees to take on the job, and he begins to enforce house rules which are not what they had in mind when they cooked up the con to keep them together.
The weekly series begins with Joe well established as the head of the new household, and the children reasonably comfortable with the compromises agreed in the pilot movie.
No one at the network or the production company is concerned that three of the four kids in the pilot were deemed unsuitable for the long haul-NBC programming boss Brandon Tartikoff wants us to remember that before " Eight is Enough" became a hit series for ABC, four of the young stars were summarily pink-slipped.
Mitchum himself doesn't have much to say about his shot at a sitcom. Or about anything else. Throughout his career, he's made it clear that he considers publicity as an evil that may or may not be necessary, but certainly isn't much fun.
Even serious questions about Joe's homelessness before the kids give him a roof over his head draw mixed reactions.
Says Mitchum: I had a little experience in those conditions myself. I was 15 years old. They gave me 180 days on the chain gang. That's how they delt with the homeless then.
" I don't know how to deal with the homeless today-it's very difficult, because they're all individual cases. A lot of them are mentally unstable people who simply cannot fend for themselves , some of them are professional indolents, and there are people who are victims of other misfortunes."
" It's an immense problem."
The producers of " A Family for Joe " want the audience to know in advance that the sitcom won't specialize in depressing stories about folks down on their luck. Joe's homelessness was, in essence , a plot device: where else but skid row could the kids find an old geezer with no family and no future to play the part they created for him?
The wonder is that Mitchum accepted the part when it was offered to him. The way he tells it, the only film role he ever really liked was in " Midway"-because all it required of him was to spend a day in bed.
Work, he claims, is not his favorite occupation: staying home close to the sound of the surf in Montecito near Santa Barbara, Calif., is much more his cup of tea.
He says: " I kind of liked some of my movies, but I did most of them because I was under contract and I didn't have any choice."
" We'll be shooting this series live in front of an audience , and that doesn't bother me because I've done it before. It might be hard on the kids, but I'll be OK.
" Working with kids doesn't bother me either-I've done that before too."
There's just a chance that Joe may turn out to be a charmed name for him: " The Story of G.I. Joe" earned him an Oscar nomination way back in 1945, affording him peer recognition that was not repeated despite impressive performances in almost 100 subsequent movies.
Robert Mitchum's Obituary From CNN
Hollywood tough-guy, Robert Mitchum, dead at 79
'The image was created to enhance my lack of glamour'
July 19, 1999
Web posted at: 6:26 p.m. EDT (2226 GMT)
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Robert Mitchum, a rugged leading man and sometime bad boy who defined cool before Hollywood knew what it was, died at home in his sleep Tuesday at the age of 79.
Mitchum had been suffering from emphysema and lung cancer, and died at 5 a.m. in his Santa Barbara County home, according to a family spokesman.
Mitchum starred in more than 100 movies, including "The Story of G.I. Joe" and "The Sundowners," and played the fearsome ex-convict in the original "Cape Fear."
Mitchum remained a star despite a limited education, being jailed for marijuana possession and a contempt for directors and studio bosses. His effortless nonchalance once caused Katherine Hepburn to snap, "You know you can't act, and if you hadn't been good-looking you would never have gotten a picture."
Mitchum already had lived a colorful life before he appeared in his first film.
He was born August 6, 1917, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, as Robert Charles Duran Mitchum. His father, James, was a soldier and barroom brawler who was Scotch-Irish on his father's side and Blackfoot Indian on his mother's. Mitchum's mother, Ann, was a Norwegian immigrant.
Mitchum hits the road at 16
After World War I, the elder Mitchum was crushed between two freight cars in the Charleston, South Carolina, Navy Yard, leaving his widow and two small children. Ann Mitchum returned to Bridgeport, remarried and settled in New York.
At 16, Mitchum hit the road, catching rides on trains and taking odd jobs for money. He said he held such jobs as an engine wiper on a freighter, a nightclub bouncer and a ditch-digger.
He also had 27 fights as a professional boxer, but decided a career change was in order after a fighter "had my nose over to one side, gave me a scar on my left eye, had me all messed up. So I quit."
Mitchum also said he was arrested for vagrancy when he was 16 and spent six days on a chain gang in Savannah, Georgia, before escaping. In 1937, he joined his family in Long Beach, California, and became involved in the local theater at the urging of his sister.
He wrote and directed plays, ghost-wrote for an astrologer, worked as a drop-hammer operator for Lockheed Aircraft and sold shoes. In 1940, he married his boyhood sweetheart, Dorothy Spence.
After acting with the Long Beach Theater Guild, he broke into films, playing heavies in a succession of "Hopalong Cassidy" westerns. He also had supporting roles in a series of war films, comedies and dramas and, in 1943 alone, appeared in 18 films.
Nominated for Oscar in 1945
In 1945, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of an Army lieutenant in "The Story of G.I. Joe."
He was drafted that same year and spent eight months in the Army before resuming his career. His rugged looks, gruff manner and deep voice fit perfectly the public's taste for manly heroes after the pretty-boy actors who dominated the 1930s.
"After the war, suddenly there was this thing for ugly heroes," Mitchum said once, "so I started going around in profile."
"I was fortunate from day one," he said on another occasion. "I never looked back and I worked all the time."
He also gained a reputation as a serious drinker and a ladies' man, and it very nearly ended his $3,000-a-week career. He and a blond starlet named Lila Leeds were arrested in September 1948, at her home on charges of marijuana possession.
Mitchum told his lawyer: "Well, this is the bitter end of everything -- my career, my marriage, everything."
He was sentenced to 60 days on an honor farm, but emerged as jaunty as ever, saying, "It's just like Palm Springs without the riffraff."
'The image was created to enhance my lack of glamour'
He returned to the filming of John Steinbeck's "The Red Pony," and his popularity, both with producers and the public, proved stronger than ever.
Mitchum's cynicism made him ideal for RKO's film noir dramas of the 1950s: "The Big Steal," "The Racket," "Where Danger Lives," "Out of the Past" and "Second Chance."
He also starred as a leading man for such stars as Jane Russell ("Macao," "His Kind of Woman"), Ava Gardner ("My Forbidden Past"), Susan Hayward ("White Witch Doctor"), Rita Hayworth ("Fire Down Below") and Shirley MacLaine ("Two for the Seesaw").
He once remarked: "I think when producers have a part that's hard to cast, they say, 'Send for Mitchum; he'll do anything.'" He added: "I don't care what I play; I'll play Polish gays, women, midgets, anything."
Of his cool, tough-guy persona, Mitchum said, "The studios knew I was on-time and I usually got it right on the first take. The image was something that was created to enhance my lack of glamour."
In 1955, he appeared in two of his most dramatic roles, as an idealist surgeon in "Not as a Stranger" and as a crazed evangelist in "Night of the Hunter," Charles Laughton's only film as a director.
"I always thought I had as much inspiration and as much tenderness as anyone else in this business," Mitchum said in 1983. "I always thought I could do better. But you don't get to do better, you get to do more."
'I work cheap'
Among his other films were "Rachel and the Stranger," "El Dorado" (with John Wayne) and "Ryan's Daughter." He twice played Raymond Chandler's private eye Philip Marlowe in "Farewell, My Lovely" in 1975 and "The Big Sleep" in 1978.
In the 1980s, Mitchum shifted smoothly to television dramas and worked well into his 70s. He appeared in the epic miniseries "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance."
Although he claimed, "I work cheap," Mitchum collected $1 million for "The Winds of War" and $250,000 for "That Championship Season."
Despite rumors of his extramarital escapades, Mitchum and his wife remained married.
"Sure there were rough times," she once remarked. "Sometimes the women would elbow me out of the way to get to Bob. But what people overlook is that Bob is a very family-oriented person. Whatever he does, he always comes back to the family."
The Mitchums had two sons, Jim and Christopher, both actors; and a daughter, Petrine.
The funeral will be private, and Mitchum's ashes will be scattered at sea.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
To watch some clips from A Family for Joe go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=a+family+for+joe+tv+series
For more on A Family for Joe go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Family_for_Joe
For a page dedicated to Robert Mitchum go to www.classicmovies.org/articles/aa091398.htm
For a Website dedicated to Juliette Lewis go to http://www.juliette-lewis.com/
For some A Family for Joe-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/family-joe
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0bNoOgX9bA
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Keywords: A Family for Joe Cast (Links Updated 7/26/18)