Free sex, drugs, rock and roll, porn, and a bullet through the brain, make for the perfect intrigue. And, it's all on video!
Was it luck or timing that allowed two self-proclaimed 'okie' brothers from California to make millions, riding the wave of the sexual revolution back in the late '60s and '70s. Were they in the right place at the right time? Was it a flair for the seedier side of the film industry that drove them to success?
The Brothers Mitchell both ignored and then waged war on good taste, these San Francisco pioneers of porn. Their story climaxed frequently, however, but not with sex. Murder. Gruesome, grizzly murder. Like the story of Abel and Cain, one killed the other and we've got the commercial free tape for you to be judge and jury.
As the steamy, E! True Hollywood Story reveals, all these two brothers wanted was to make money while filming people having sex. Their innovations made them national icons - as well as frequent targets of police raids and conservative clucking.
The pair lived hard, with sex and drugs nearly consuming their every waking moment. Yet they somehow both found time to get married (repeatedly) and raise 10 children between them.
In the end, though, no one can say for sure what drove one to kill the other. Was Jim really trying to "help" Artie by killing him? Or was he simply fed up with his younger brother's drug-fueled antics and interested only in helping himself?
Peep in on this E! True Hollywood Story and decide for yourself. But before you venture behind the E! door, snuggle up with a few fun facts about the Mitchell brothers.
Feast on a few snacks and tidbits about the Mitchell brothers and then watch the details unfold. Settle back and view the forty five minute, commercial free murder mystery of two brothers, the Mitchell boys, whose luck and fortune took a wild, left turn.
When the brothers were kids, their parents would sometimes find roadkill, bring it home and cook it for dinner.
While in college in San Francisco, Jim would offer girls $5 to go topless, so he could photograph them. He turned around and sold the photos to adult stores for a hefty profit.
Jim's still photo enterprise soon gave way to short, 10-minute sex films, called "loops," which sold for as much as $100 a piece.
The brothers felt contempt for people who appeared in their movies and referred to the male castmembers as "meat."
In an early film, Arite substituted for a male porn star who failed to show up. Artie claimed that he and the actress got so carried away that the soft-core feature soon became hard-core.
The Mitchell brothers' O'Farrell Theater, their first, was created from a former Pontiac car dealership.
When the police raided the theater shortly after it opened, the brothers had obscenity charges filed against them--and they couldn't have been happier about it.
At the debut of the their first feature-length porn film, Behind the Green Door, the movie's reels were accidentally shown out of sequence. No one seemed to notice.
Jim and Artie's parents were in the audience at the Green Door premiere.
Behind the Green Door played to packed houses in major cities across the United States--and even at the Cannes Film Festival.
By coincidence, at the same time Behind the Green Door was released, Ivory Snow came out with a new box design of a mother holding a baby. The mother happened to be porn star Marilyn Chambers, and the image was from a modeling job she had done years before.
When the San Francisco Mayor at the time had the O'Farrell raided and closed, the brothers put her phone number on the marquee under: "For showtimes call...and they included the Mayor's home phone number." Such sexual scamps, those two were.
The O'Farrell Theater offered live sex shows until the city and the courts closed it down.
In 1984, the brothers hired gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson as the night manager of the O'Farrell. In reality, Thompson was a consultant hired to give the place some hipness.
After Artie, Jim and three of their kids were pulled from high surf, the brothers gave members of the San Francisco Fire Department Cliff and Surf Rescue Team lifetime passes to the O'Farrell.
On February 27, 1991, Jim went to Artie's house, slashed the tires on Artie's car and shot Artie to death, ostensibly in an attempt to save Artie from himself.
Four months later, after posting bail, Jim hosted a massive wake party for Artie at the O'Farrell.
Eventually a jury convicted Jim of voluntary manslaughter, and he was sentenced to six years in prison. He served less than three years in San Quentin.
Real-life brothers Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen portrayed Jim and Artie Mitchell in the 2000 TV movie Rated X.
According to the biography Bottom Feeders, Jim's wife Adrienne once faked being pregnant.
The brothers named their first fishing boat the Bottom Feeder, also the name of a later biography about them.
Jim Mitchell's murder trial was perhaps the first in the country to use computer animation to illustrate what the prosecution believed happened.
Elisa Florez, aka Missy Manners, starred in the sequel to Behind the Green Door. Previously, she had worked for the Republican National Committee and as a page for Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.
Artie's nickname for Jim was Bob. Jim's nickname for Artie? Bob.
Artie's first wife, Meredith Bradford, was a direct descendant of William Bradford, author of the Mayflower Compact and governor of Plymouth Colony.
The name of the Mitchell Brothers' softball team was, of course, the Beavers.
Here's some irony for you, as you ready your senses for this in depth video, marking the fame up and the crash downward for Jim and Artie Mitchell.
On Independence Day in 1969, brothers Jim and Artie Mitchell of Antioch opened the 200-seat Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre at the corner of Polk and O'Farrell Streets. There are those who feel these two were not pornographers in the usual sense, but freedom fighters. They were A few weeks later, the SFPD raided the place, foreshadowing decades of legal problems for the porn kings, including the 1991 murder of Artie by brother Jim.
The Mitchells got lucky, or so the story goes, in 1971, when Marilyn Chambers, the star of their adult feature "Behind the Green Door," also appeared as a model on boxes of Ivory Snow soap. The publicity created a multi-million dollar success out of "Green Door" and ensconced the Mitchells in the pantheon of adult entertainment alongside other porn moguls. In 1975 their adult theatre chain had expanded to 11 locations. Lawsuits brought by communities to keep them out, as well as police raids and even copyright disputes, kept the Mitchells in court the entire time their porn empire grew. In 1985, Mitchell veteran Chambers was arrested for prostitution at the theatre. The following year, the Mitchells responded to the rising AIDS epidemic by releasing a sequel to "Behind the Green Door" starring Missy Manners in the first safe sex adult film.
In 1975 their adult theatre chain had expanded to 11 locations. Lawsuits brought by communities to keep them out, as well as police raids and even copyright disputes, kept the Mitchells in court the entire time their porn empire grew. In 1985, Mitchell veteran Chambers was arrested for prostitution at the theatre. The following year, the Mitchells responded to the rising AIDS epidemic by releasing a sequel to "Behind the Green Door" starring Missy Manners in the first safe sex adult film.
On February 27, 1991, Jim shot his brother to death in Artie Mitchell's Corte Madera home. Lawyers for the defense claimed that the shooting was an accident rising out of Jim's attempt to get Artie off of drugs and alcohol, the result of "an intervention gone awry." Prosecutors noted, however, that Jim had parked his car away from the house, kicked the door down, then shot Artie three times, including one bullet to the brain. Jim Mitchell, inmate J38838, served only 3 years for killing his brother before being released from San Quentin prison in 1997. The Mitchells' rise as porn czars and the murder of Artie Mitchell are chronicled in the 2000 cable movie Rated X starring brothers Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez.
All the hype aside, no one will ever know the real reason Jim killed Artie. A classic tale of intrigue, to be sure, for who really knows what lurks in the minds of men? Especially men with power, money, ego, and a drug habit, perhaps jealousy and greed played a part? Women do, but not in this case. Watch the video! See if you can figure out the motive!