Friday, December 13, 2013

Don Mitchell R.I.P.

Don Mitchell, perhaps best known for playing Mark Sanger on the TV programme Ironside, died on 18 December 2013  at the age of 70 from natural causes.

Don Mitchell was born on 17 March 1943 in Houston, Texas. He attended UCLA where he studied acting. He made his debut on television in an episode of Mr. Novak. Over the next few years he appeared on such shows as I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Virginian, and Tarzan. It was in 1967 that he was cast in the role of Mark Sanger on the TV series Ironside. While Ironside was on the air he also made guest appearances on Insight, The Bold Ones: The Doctors, and McMillan & Wife. He also appeared in the film Scream Blacula Scream (1973).

Following Ironside he guest starred on the shows Medical Story, Wonder Woman, CHiPS, and Matlock. He was a regular on the soap opera Capitol. He appeared in the film Perfume (1991). His last appearance was in the reunion television film The Return of Ironside in 1993.

Don Mitchell's television and film credits were not extensive, but he will always be remembered as Mark Sanger on Ironside. He played what was a very remarkable character quite well. In fact, the character of Mark Sanger was a pioneering portrayal of African Americans on American broadcast television. Mark was perhaps the most important character on the show besides Robert Ironside (played by Raymond Burr) himself. He was Ironside's assistant and in many respects served as Watson to Ironside's Holmes. He often provided valuable advice to Ironside and was a very capable detective himself, in many ways better than police officers who worked for Ironside. In the course of the show he became he became a police officer, graduated from law school, and became a lawyer. To give one an idea of how important the character of Mark Sanger was in the history of American television, consider that n 1967 perhaps the only other drama with a male black character in a prominent role besides I Spy was Mission: Impossible, with Greg Morris as electronics expert Barney Collier. Don Mitchell played Mark Sanger very well, and as a result left a mark in television history.

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