YORK, Pa. (AP) — A York Township man is heading efforts to memorialize a local actor who came to fame in the 1960s for his role in a TV Western.
Brian Sellers said he's hoping to start a scholarship in Cameron Mitchell's name, have a sign installed near Mitchell's childhood home in Shrewsbury and hold a yearly event in his honor.
"It's probably something we should have looked into some time ago," Sellers said.
The initiative to honor Mitchell, who died in 1994 age 75, got under way about two months ago after Sellers gave a presentation on him at a Glen Rock Historical Preservation Society.
Sellers has already held a meeting to organize supporters and another will be held later his month. He's also been contacted by people from across the country who are fans of Mitchell and have shown support.
"It's taken on a life of its own," Sellers said. "It started in January and has already grown so much."
Born in Dallastown in 1918, Mitchell became childhood friends with Sellers' grandfather and uncle when they played sports and acted in local plays.
In fact, Sellers said Mitchell could have become famous for something altogether different. He was offered a contact by the Detroit Tigers to play baseball, but turned it down. He kept the unsigned contract with him all his life.
After a stint with the Army Air Corps as a bombardier during World War II, Mitchell returned to acting and landed his first movie role in 1945. One of his first roles was alongside John Wayne in the film "They Were Expendable," Sellers said.
Mitchell is likely best known for his role in the 1967 TV series "The High Chaparral."
Honor: Sellers said he'd like to see a scholarship for Susquehannock High School students interested in studying the arts in college. The scholarship, he said, would also be named for Helena Hartenstein, a teacher who encouraged Mitchell when he was starting his acting career, he said.
"She really motivated him to get his acting career going in the right direction," Sellers said.
Sellers said he also envisions a Cameron Mitchell Day event held locally in his honor.
Much to his surprise, Sellers has received support from members of a Mitchell fan page on Facebook. The 609 members of the page are from all over the country, but all share a fondness for Mitchell.
"I thought there would be a lot of local interest, but (I) didn't expect nationwide attention," Sellers said.
Sondra Hill, one the page's founding members from Texas, said she's hopeful Sellers' initiatives come to fruition.
"We are hoping that a local group ... takes on the challenge of funding a memorial for Cameron Mitchell so that we can join in for this worthy endeavor," Hill said in an e-mail. "He is a great asset to your community that I imagine people are very proud of."
Information from: The York Dispatch, http://www.yorkdispatch.com