There are legions of actors who are deeply grateful for the existence of long-running television soap operas. James Mitchell, who has died aged 89, was one of them. He enjoyed playing the wily patriarch Palmer Cortlandt in the popular Us daytime soap All My Children from 1979 to 2008. It came at the right time in his career. At 59, his dancing days were over and his film acting had failed to catch fire.
The majority of loyal fans of All My Children were probably not aware that the debonair, grey-haired Mitchell, still svelte and handsome, had been a leading dancer for many years, particularly associated with the celebrated choreographer Agnes de Mille. According to De Mille, Mitchell had "probably the strongest arms in the business, and the adagio style developed by him and his partners has become