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On his 100th birthday, here’s to legendary Hollywood tough guy Robert Mitchum

On Aug. 6, 100 years ago, Robert Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Conn., though he once claimed he didn’t have a hometown. Humble beginnings led to several trips west, at least one in a boxcar, before he found stardom in Hollywood as one of its most iconic mid-century leading men.

The actor, who died in 1997, was known as an avid reader and a bit of a renaissance man. He wrote poetry, songs, recorded two albums and once reportedly penned the libretto for an event Orson Welles directed at the Hollywood Bowl. An intimidating man of contradictions, he could be surly and charming, aloof and loquacious, humble and arrogant, pugnacious and gentle, testing the mettle of reporters from gossip columnist Hedda Hopper to the Los Angeles Times’ own Charles Champlin.

Below are some choice Mitchum quotes from his conversations with The Times.

On acting

“I like acting. But I don’t want to stick to it all my life. I’ve got just one hobby — thinking.” (1947)