Years ago, I started to write an oral history of Tattletales, a game show I believe bridged the gap between average game shows and reality TV. One of the survivors of that show was Scoey Mitchell, who also appeared on Match Game. I was heartened that he was still living.
Sadly, the comedy trailblazer has now died. He passed away on March 19 in hospice care at age 92, survived by his beautiful wife Claire, who was on Tattletales with him.
Born March 12, 1930, in Newburgh, New York, with the unusual surname Mitchlll.
A gifted and provocative writer, the natural comedian got his big break on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967) and was featured in 1969's What's It All About, World?
His most important contribution was as the male lead of the short-lived (12 episodes) TV adaptation of Neil Simon's (1927-2018) Barefoot in the Park (1970). Along with Tracy Reed (b. 1949), he was part of the first Black-led cast on network TV since the considerably less trailblazing Amos 'n' Andy (1951-1953).
Sadly, his opinionated demeanor rubbed producers the wrong way, and he left the show — or was fired — by Douglas S. Cramer (1931-2021) over "creative differences." His departure and its anemic ratings secured a cancellation.
Mitchell made guest appearances on The Mothers-in-Law (1969), Here Come the Brides (1969), That Girl (1969), The Six Million Dollar Man (1974), Police Story (1975), Taxi (1989) and a number of other series, but a steady gig eluded him.
His only film role was in Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986) as the father of Richard Pryor's (1940-2005) character, though he played Justin Culp on nine episodes of Rhoda (1974-1976) and had a couple of appearances on the sitcom Me & Mrs. C (1988), his final major work in the business.
In 2017, Mitchell made an appearance in the short film A Kindred Soul, his first acting in decades.
Mitchell is survived by a sister. It is unclear whether his wife is still living.