Adult theater pioneer Jim Mitchell passes away

posted by Michael Zoldessy on July 17, 2007 at 8:00 am

We don’t usually report on adult film theater moguls, but thought that this was rather notable. As owner of the O'Farrell in San Francisco and many other throughout the west, he created quite an empire.

Mitchell died Thursday night at his ranch near Petaluma, Calif. The cause of death was not immediately known, but foul play was not suspected, a spokesman for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department said. An autopsy was conducted Friday, but the results were not made available.

The dramatic rise and flesh-and-blood fall of the Mitchell brothers has been chronicled in books, the Showtime movie “Rated X” and in countless newspaper and magazine articles.

From their offices atop the O'Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, a combination movie and stage show emporium that opened in 1969 and was called the Carnegie Hall of Sex, the brothers built an empire that at one time included 11 movie theaters, including two in Southern California, as well as movie and video productions, The Times reported in 1991.

Read the full story in the L.A. Times

Theaters in this post

Comments (5)

Craigadams11 on July 17, 2007 at 9:00 am

One less smutt peddler, no great loss!!

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 17, 2007 at 11:13 am

I disagree. His place in movie history is as valid, if not more, than many others in the industry who in the pursuit of profit inadvertently stumbled into art.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on July 17, 2007 at 7:02 pm

I agree. And from a preservation stand point, they [porn theatre owners] kept a number of theatres from meeting the wrecking ball until such a time that the public began to care about preservation and restoration. I know of a number of first run theatres, performing arts venues and Drive-Ins that ran porn at one time.

As far as applauding the death of a “smut peddler” – that’s a whole different debate and not one I think should be raised on this website.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 17, 2007 at 7:51 pm

The Mitchell Brothers made Marilyn Chambers a star.
Walt Disney made Annette Funicello a star.

To all those who kept downtown palaces and small town drive-ins open for so many years past their sell-by dates, we salute you both!

…and Michael, thank you for acknowledging Mr. Mitchell’s significant contribution to our industry. He was indeed a beacon at a time when the public turned its back on almost everything mainstream, and instead embraced things BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR.

scorpio1949 on July 18, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Thanks for noting the passing of Mr. Mitchell. This website should be one to remember people that contributed to the theatrical business. Whatever your thoughts about the Mitchell’s they were a part of history and yes they did save theatres. Thank God.

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