Charles Allen Pendleton was born in Denver, Colorado on July 29, 1923. He began working out in his Denver neighborhood to deal with his tough companions. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army in the Battle of the Bulge where he became a prisoner of war. He later obtained a degree at the University of Southern California under the G.I. Bill and became a high school teacher and guidance counselor in Los Angeles, where due to his physique he was given classes containing many delinquent students.
Following a return enlistment in the Korean War he found work as an extra in movies such as “Prisoner of War” (1954), “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955) and Cecil B. DeMille's “The Ten Commandments” (1956) where he and his friend Joe Gold dragged Charlton Heston's Moses to the Pharaoh played by Yul Brynner. In the late 1950s Mae West chose him to appear in her nightclub act along with Mickey Hargitay and Dan Vadis.
He was one of the first American bodybuilder-actors who migrated to Italy in the wake of Steve Reeves success after he sent a photo to an Italian producer who signed him to a contract. Prior to going to Italy, he saw a clairvoyant who asked him if he had ever been known by the name of Gordon Mitchell. He replied no, but on arrival in Rome, Mitchell was given this new name. He found work first in sword and sandal films such as “Spartacus” (1960), “The Giant of Metropolis” (1961), “Treasure of the Petrified Forest” (1965), then in Spaghetti Westerns such as “Three Graves for a Winchester” (1966) “Born to Kill” (1967) and “Beyond the Law” (1968). Mitchell also appeared in “Satyricon” (1969), directed by Federico Fellini.
Mitchell appeared in 33 Euro-westerns from “Three Graves for a Winchester” in 1966 to “Porno-Erotic Western” in 1979
From the early 1970s onwards, his career started to diversify into everything from horror “Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks” (1974), war “Achtung! The Desert Tigers!” (1977), Sexploitation “Porno-Erotic Western” (1979), French criminal comedy “The Umbrella Coup” (1980) and post-apocalyptic films “Endgame – 1983”. Mitchell appeared in the bizarre 1982 Israeli adaptation of H. Rider Haggard's “She” as Hector.
While in Italy Mitchell obtained title to some land south of Rome and there built Cave Studios where several Demofilo Fidani films were made and which Mitchell made cameo appearances in. He later lost the land when an Italian court decided foreigners could not own land in Italy.
Gordon returned to the United States in the late 1980s and basically retired from acting running Gold’s Gym in Santa Monica and later Marina Del Rey, California. Gordon made occasional film appearances until his death from undisclosed causes in Marina Del Rey, California on September 20, 2003.
Today we remember one of the greats of Italian action films and the Euro-western, Gordon Mitchell on what would have been his 90th birthday.