The blood of early Scots-Irish settlers and American Indians ran in the veins of James Thomas Mitchum [Robert Mitchum's father]. He hailed from the town of Lane in eastern South Carolina... in the U.S. Army, he came to be stationed in Connecticut, and it was there [he] met a girl, a... Norwegian immigrant named Ann Harriet Gunderson... On August 6, 1917... Ann gave birth to her second child... Baptized by the minister from the Newfield Methodist Church, the boy was named Robert Charles Durman Mitchum...
One February night in 1919 [Robert Mitchum's father was killed in an accident at a navy rail yard]...
[Robert's mother, a widow, later married a New York Irishman named Bill Clancy. He turned out to be a drunkard, and after he violently destroyed much of the house, Robert's mother permanently left her with the children.]
There was in [Robert's mother] Ann Gunderson Mitchum Clancy an instinctually unconventional, almost bohemian outlook on life that had lurked beneath the surface of the proper Scandinavian lady. She was intellectually curious, spiritually adventurous.
She was a free thinker, not rebellious but a natural, quiet iconoclast. In a time when conservative narrow-mindedness was the norm and bigotry a commonplace, Ann was independent, nonjudgmental, without racial or ethnic prejudice. She paid at best lip service to the Protestant Church of her forebears. Years later, with typical unconventionality, she--along with her daughters--would become a devoted follower of an Asian--based faith some labeled a mystic sect. An unusual woman. She would raise unusual children.