Tales of the Bizarre: Robert Mitchum Was Released From Prison in 1949 for WHAT?!

circa 1948: American actor Robert Mitchum (1917-1997) holds a book of matches while smoking a cigarette outdoors
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Oh, how things have changed. These days, depending on where you live, most people you know might dabble in marijuana and there is a weed shop on every corner. It certainly is more commonplace these days. It wasn’t always this way. Even high-profile celebrities got prison time for smoking a little joint back in the day, including actor Robert Mitchum.

In late 1948, Mitchum was arrested after cops raided a party in Los Angeles and found him smoking a joint. He reportedly said, “Well, this is the bitter end of everything—my career, my marriage, everything.” At the time, he was going through a separation from his wife and apparently feared that his arrest would ruin everything.

Rachel and the Stranger Robert Mitchum, 1948

Everett Collection

He was sentenced to two months in prison for marijuana possession but it in fact did not ruin everything. Around that time, his film Rachel and the Stranger was released and did quite well in the box office. His wife even supported him during the scandal and they reconciled, staying together until his death in 1997. He served a week in county jail and later 43 days at a prison farm in Castaic, California.

She Shoulda Said No! Lila Leeds, 1949

Everett Collection

Some believe that his sentencing was unfair because the Los Angeles Police Department wanted to shed more awareness on their anti-drug efforts. In 1951, his conviction was overturned by the Los Angeles court after it was exposed as a setup, where celebrities were being targeted. The ordeal inspired the exploitation film She Shoulda Said No! in 1949. While this story may not be as bizarre as some of the others we have covered, it certainly paints a story of a very different time in history! What do you think about Mitchum’s arrest? Let us know in the comments!

Want more Tales of the Bizarre? Check out our other stories and get your fill of weird history.

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