'All My Children' actor James Mitchell dies

6:09 PM PST 01/24/2010 by Staff report, AP

Played wealthy patriarch Palmer Cortlandt for 30 years

James Mitchell, who played wealthy patriarch Palmer Cortlandt on ABC daytime soap "All My Children" for 30 years, died Friday in Los Angeles of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, complicated by pneumonia. He was 89.

Mitchell joined the cast of "AMC" in 1979. His final appearance was Jan. 5 for the show's 40th anniversary episode.

Mitchell began his career as an accomplished dancer and played leading roles in such Broadway musicals as "Brigadoon," "Billion Dollar Baby," "Bloomer Girl," "Carousel," "Carnival," "Mack and Mabel" and "Paint Your Wagon."

He appeared with the American Ballet Theater in New York, Europe and South America and with the Agnes de Mille Dance Theater on tour throughout the U.S. He also starred on tour in "Funny Girl" with Carol Lawrence, "The Three Penny Opera" with Chita Rivera, "The King and I" with Ann Blyth and in "The Rainmaker" with future "All My Children" co-star Frances Heflin.

Mitchell also served as assistant to the director of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera production of "Annie Get Your Gun" with Debbie Reynolds.

Mitchell's film roles included "That's Dancing," a retrospective of great dance numbers in movie musicals; "The Turning Point" (1977), in which he played the artistic director; "The Band Wagon" (1953) with Fred Astaire; "Oklahoma!" (1955); and "Deep in My Heart" (1954) with Cyd Charisse.

He also danced with Charisse in her 1965 television special and in the Academy Awards presentation program in 1966. From 1969-73, he played Professor Hathaway on the daytime series "Where the Heart Is."

Mitchell taught movement for actors and theater arts students, which he described as "an exchange of the disciplines of dancing and acting." He taught at Yale University and at Drake University, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in fine arts.

Mitchell is survived by his longtime partner, Albert Wolsky.
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