*Sadly, we must report the passing of veteran comic/actor Scoey Mitchell, best known for the TV version of “Barefoot in the Park.” He died on March 19. He was 92.
Mitchell died from kidney failure at a long-term care facility in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Mitchell – who also was credited as Scoey Mitchlll – got his biggest break on the ABC sitcom version of “Barefoot in the Park,” which at the time was the first network sitcom in almost two decades to have a predominantly Black cast.
The problem was the show’s writers were all white, which upset, understandably, upset Mitchell. He was so committed to getting more Black people behind the scenes that ABC fired him and canceled the show after a single 12-episode season.
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The cancellation came despite the series’ popularity and prior acclaim for the 1963 Broadway show, written by Neil Simon, and 1967 film, starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.
Mitchell was never again given a leading role in a major production. Instead, he worked as a game show panelist, most consistently on “Tattletales” and “Match Game,” and a character actor.
He earned credits in “Police Story,” “Rhonda” and “Lou Grant,” among others. Later in his career, Mitchell decided to become the change behind the camera, directing two short series on NBC: “Me and Mrs. C” and “13 East.”
“He sacrificed much in the struggle to get Blacks behind the camera, into production and into positions that are taken for granted today,” Mitchell’s brother Billy told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s important to remember those few that opened the doors for so many.”