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Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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RIP Bruce J. Mitchell

Calgary, Alberta — Actor Bruce J. Mitchell, who gained the everlasting affection of MSTies worldwide for his gritty portrayal of the loyal, brave and slightly hungover hero Zap Rowsdower in the movie in episode 910- THE FINAL SACRIFICE, died of heart failure on April 28. He was 73. We and most fans missed it when it happened because he died quietly and there was no local press coverage.

But a very nice memorial can be seen online here.

44 Replies to “RIP Bruce J. Mitchell”

  1. MonkeyPretzel says:

    He did a great interview available on the now out of print DVD set XVII. I hope he knew that he made a lot of people smile and laugh – which is one of the best legacies any of us could ever ask for.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Mitchell.

       47 likes

  2. Donald Kunzer says:

    Pop open a can for me, Zapp.

       18 likes

  3. bartcow says:

    MonkeyPretzel:
    He did a great interview available on the now out of print DVD set XVII. I hope he knew that he made a lot of people smile and laugh – which is one of the best legacies any of us could ever ask for.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Mitchell.

    It is truly one of the best cast interviews on any of the box sets. Some can come off as resentful, clueless, smarmy, or too self-aware, but he seemed genuinely pleased that that quirky little movie he made all those years ago had found a new life, and he had actual fans as a result. My immediate thought after first watching it was “I hope I meet him at a convention someday–he seems like a nice, chill dude.” This news makes me sad.

    Thanks, Zap.

       48 likes

  4. I saw MST3K’s presentation of that movie just last year.

    Zap Rowsdower. What a name.

       6 likes

  5. Kilroy says:

    There’s a little less beer on the sun today.

    RIP, Mr. Mitchell

       37 likes

  6. Lisa H. says:

    I should put $1.89 of gas in my car in his hono(u)r.

    (‘Course, where I am that’s half a gallon or less right now. Ah, the days when collecting change in the ashtray could actually buy some meaningful amount of gas…)

       15 likes

  7. Ray Dunakin says:

    Sad news indeed. He did a great job creating a memorable character.

       15 likes

  8. jjk50 says:

    He only had 2 credits on Imdb, Final Sacrifice and a Ray Bradbury Theater episode both in 1990, yet he’s better remembered by MST3K fans than other actors who made a 100 movies.

       27 likes

  9. Hmm! These Are Good Hot Dogs! says:

    Very sad news. Though maybe he is searching for beer on the sun just because he can now and we can’t. I know I would look.

       7 likes

  10. We MSTies embraced him as one of our own. I will raise a beer to the mighty Sun, and toast our dear friend. But for him, there is finally peace. And all trucks in heaven are in need of no repair. Farewell Zap Rowsdower. Rest In Peace Bruce J. Mitchell.

       17 likes

  11. So, let’s all express our condolences by shouting out his funny character name from a low-budget movie it wasn’t really that important to him to remember making, repeatedly for no reason whatsoever, just like Mike taught us to!
    After all, as even Joel said, how is that not funny?

    bartcow: It is truly one of the best cast interviews on any of the box sets. Some can come off as resentful, clueless, smarmy, or too self-aware, but he seemed genuinely pleased that that quirky little movie he made all those years ago had found a new life, and he had actual fans as a result. My immediate thought after first watching it was “I hope I meet him at a convention someday–he seems like a nice, chill dude.” This news makes me sad.

    It’s the problem with the SciFi era deciding that everyone marked with Guilt-By-Association from that week’s movie deserves to be punished for it until the guys feel better–
    Unlike some of the other self-delusional actors interviewed from SciFi era 90’s films, he did seem rather laid back and good-with-the-bad about cult fame/infamy. That’s the difference between watching a movie, and taking it personally, which can be a problem on BOTH sides.

       3 likes

  12. He handled the interview with class and a good sense of humor. Seemed like such a decent, kind man. This is my favorite episode and his death honestly upset me. Rest in peace dear Bruce.

       23 likes

  13. SaveFerris says:



    Oh, cripes…….who’s going to tell Troy ???


    Seriously though, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy, who didn’t take his movie, his role in it, or himself too seriously……a good reminder for the rest of us, especially these days….

       23 likes

  14. D.k. Black says:

    Final Sacrifice was the first episode of MST3K I showed my two young sons and twenty years later it is still their favorite. RIP Zapp.

       17 likes

  15. goalieboy82 says:

    they said he had a cult following as Zap Rowsdower during the funeral (they said a TV series).

       7 likes

  16. goalieboy82 says:

    and he sings too (in the second video, 21 minutes in)

       4 likes

  17. goalieboy82 says:

    and now he can ask the Good Lord if there is beer on the sun.

       6 likes

  18. I’m always happy to know that actors from MST’d movies had good lives outside of the roles that we know them for. Rest In Peace.

       16 likes

  19. Lawgiver says:

    The Original EricJ:
    So, let’s all express our condolences by shouting out his funny character name from a low-budget movie it wasn’t really that important to him to remember making, repeatedly for no reason whatsoever, just like Mike taught us to!

    Yeah, Mike is awesome.

    So many heartfelt comments here for a big fan favorite.

       29 likes

  20. Hmm! These Are Good Hot Dogs! says:

    The Original EricJ:
    So, let’s all express our condolences by shouting out his funny character name from a low-budget movie it wasn’t really that important to him to remember making, repeatedly for no reason whatsoever, just like Mike taught us to!
    After all, as even Joel said, how is that not funny?

    Just…wow…delete your face.

       35 likes

  21. littleaimishboy says:

    He was a goofy but likable character in the movie, and it seems like he was non-goofy but still likable in real life.

    When the image of Zap Rowsdower flashes through my mind – by no means an everyday occurrence, no, but it happens – I always smile.

       13 likes

  22. Johnny Drama says:

    I do enjoy “The Final Sacrifice.” But go back and watch that interview with Mr. Mitchell on Vol. 17 again. He never watched the episode. And I kind of doubt he ever did. We’ll never know for sure.
    RIP, good sir.

       2 likes

  23. Hmm! These Are Good Hot Dogs! says:

    Kilroy:
    There’s a little less beer on the sun today.

    RIP, Mr. Mitchell

    Haha I wish I had seen yours first, wasn’t intentional.

       1 likes

  24. Hmm! These Are Good Hot Dogs! says:

    Lawgiver: Yeah, Mike is awesome.

    So many heartfelt comments here for a big fan favorite.

    I don’t think that’s what Eric J was intending.

       2 likes

  25. bartcow says:

    The Original EricJ:
    So, let’s all express our condolences by shouting out his funny character name from a low-budget movie it wasn’t really that important to him to remember making, repeatedly for no reason whatsoever, just like Mike taught us to!
    After all, as even Joel said, how is that not funny?

    It’s the problem with the SciFi era deciding that everyone marked with Guilt-By-Association from that week’s movie deserves to be punished for it until the guys feel better–
    Unlike some of the other self-delusional actors interviewed from SciFi era 90’s films, he did seem rather laid back and good-with-the-bad about cult fame/infamy.That’s the difference between watching a movie, and taking it personally, which can be a problem on BOTH sides.

    Alternately, let’s crap on everyone trying to bond over a beloved character and the actor who played him by trotting out the same tired arguments again and again because we’re an impossibly tactless insufferable asshole, just like EricJ taught us!

    Seriously, dude, don’t make me warn you again not to quote me in your bull****. I was trying to be heartfelt and genuine, but you know, emotions are for wimps, I guess.

    I’m done. You can go straight to hell. I don’t care if I get blocked.

       42 likes

  26. mst3kme says:

    Bartcow:

    Eric J. should be blocked, not you.

    He’s a mean person, who is intensely jealous and resentful of Mike. There’s no other explanation.

    You are heartfelt and genuine. Don’t let the trolls get to you.

    Try this. It will make you feel better. :-)

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vHONGTquHSk

    bartcow: Alternately, let’s crap on everyone trying to bond over a beloved character and the actor who played him by trotting out the same tired arguments again and again because we’re an impossibly tactless insufferable asshole, just like EricJ taught us!

    Seriously, dude, don’t make me warn you again not to quote me in your bull****. I was trying to be heartfelt and genuine, but you know, emotions are for wimps, I guess.

    I’m done. You can go straight to hell. I don’t care if I get blocked.

       21 likes

  27. trennerdios says:

    The Original EricJ:
    So, let’s all express our condolences by shouting out his funny character name from a low-budget movie it wasn’t really that important to him to remember making, repeatedly for no reason whatsoever, just like Mike taught us to!
    After all, as even Joel said, how is that not funny?

    It’s the problem with the SciFi era deciding that everyone marked with Guilt-By-Association from that week’s movie deserves to be punished for it until the guys feel better–
    Unlike some of the other self-delusional actors interviewed from SciFi era 90’s films, he did seem rather laid back and good-with-the-bad about cult fame/infamy.That’s the difference between watching a movie, and taking it personally, which can be a problem on BOTH sides.

    I say this with no humor at all: You are the worst. The fact that you are unable to stop from being your usual vile self in a thread devoted to mourning the loss of a fan favorite and good human being is despicable.

    I don’t have anything different to add than other, decent people have already said about Bruce. I said my piece on the mst3k subreddit already, where trash humans like EricJ would be banned.

       34 likes

  28. mando3b says:

    Honestly, I can’t imagine ever being so self-absorbed, so starved for attention, so tone-deaf and so socially obtuse that I would post something like that on a thread devoted to mourning someone’s death. On a site devoted to celebrating the funniest show on TV, no less. I normally just ignore trolls, but this really crossed the line.

       22 likes

  29. 346436 . says:

    The Original EricJ:
    So, let’s all express our condolences by shouting out his funny character name from a low-budget movie it wasn’t really that important to him to remember making, repeatedly for no reason whatsoever, just like Mike taught us to!
    After all, as even Joel said, how is that not funny?

    It’s the problem with the SciFi era deciding that everyone marked with Guilt-By-Association from that week’s movie deserves to be punished for it until the guys feel better–
    Unlike some of the other self-delusional actors interviewed from SciFi era 90’s films, he did seem rather laid back and good-with-the-bad about cult fame/infamy.That’s the difference between watching a movie, and taking it personally, which can be a problem on BOTH sides.

    Normally I wouldn’t bother with any of your comments since the time I asked for proof on things Joel actually said and you didn’t provide me with anything(no sources, no video evidence, nothing). Instead you gave me a long diatribe that showed you’re a poser masquerading as the authority on MST3K. However, I will make an exception here.

    let me get this straight…..in countless discussions you’ve accused Mike Nelson of being a “bully”(Which are your exact words) with how he made jokes at a movie but yet you think it’s perfectly ok to insult people mourning someone’s death? Thank you once again for confirming your hypocrisy.

       28 likes

  30. Yeti of Great Danger says:

    bartcow: It is truly one of the best cast interviews on any of the box sets. Some can come off as resentful, clueless, smarmy, or too self-aware, but he seemed genuinely pleased that that quirky little movie he made all those years ago had found a new life, and he had actual fans as a result. My immediate thought after first watching it was “I hope I meet him at a convention someday–he seems like a nice, chill dude.” This news makes me sad.

    Thanks, Zap.

    All this. In the interview, he seemed genuinely surprised and thrilled at the attention — not all of it good — that TFS received and continued to receive. No hurt feelings that his character was made fun of, none of that snobby crap we see from so many others.

    I see in the obituary that he was an LPN for many years. Can you imagine being in the hospital and having Zap walk in your room to take care of you? I would’ve thought I was either dead or hallucinating. lol

    Fly, Zap, fly. Getcha some of that beer on the sun, eh?

    p.s. EricJ, you are despicable. Pissing on an RIP thread.

       22 likes

  31. mando3b says:

    On a happier note . . . Very nice tributes from MSTies on the BJM obit page. Mr. Mitchell was obviously someone who touched a lot of people. Love it that he was a musician, too! Gonna watch “Final Sacrifice” tonight in his honor.

       17 likes

  32. radioman970 says:

    group hug for Troy everybody!

    extremely sad to hear this. I don’t know if I’ve watched the interview yet. I’m still on season 6 with my current go around but I’m sure I’ve watched my official version since the last go and not my old fan made one. I’m way too slow, it’ll probably be new to me. can’t wait. keeping a cooler with brewskies by the TV for the moment.

       11 likes

  33. Cory Purcell says:

    RIP Bruce Mitchell.

       8 likes

  34. IR5 says:

    What a story. The man had a lot of fans, including me. MSTIES are a funny culture if you will. At least I am- for today, with all of the news in the world, all the not good and beautiful things we witness, I shed a small tear for Bruce J. Mitchell (promptly evaporated from my cheek by a blistering sun, I assume caused by too much beer on it)

    So, say a prayer to Saint Larry Csonka- raise a glass to acid washed jeans, mullets,and, our neighbor to the North. Thank you Bruce J. Mitchell- you were enjoyed. RIP.

       23 likes

  35. Torgover says:

    RIP, Bruce. I guess he’ll be able to find out if there is beer in heaven.

       9 likes

  36. Murdock Hauser says:

    RIP, Mr. Mitchell. Your character Rowsdower will and always be in Thomas Jefferson’s spot on my Mount Rushmore of MST3K characters, looking up at the sun and wondering if there’s beer on it. I now salute you Mr. Mitchell with a cold bottle of beer in my hand and say, Thank You. RIP.

       12 likes

  37. RedZoneTuba says:

    The Original EricJ:
    blah blah blah

    Don’t hate OriginalEricJ. Trolls like him should be pitied more than anything else. Try to imagine not
    being smart or good looking or humorous or interesting enough to get anyone to pay attention to you your whole life. The only way you can get any attention at all, to get anyone to even acknowledge your pathetic existence, is to make stupid anonymous statements that elicit some reaction. Something, anything, to make people notice you online and counteract the way they ignore you in real life. I honestly feel sad for you, OriginalEricJ.
    Please seek the help you need. This is no way to live.

       22 likes

  38. majorjoe23 says:

    The Original EricJ:
    Garbage Word Salad

    I agree.

       8 likes

  39. Hmm! These Are Good Hot Dogs! says:

    Should Eric “J is for Jagoff” not be banned at this point? We can’t even perma-mute him. Is it because his trolling adds to the comment traffic? Come on guys, make the wise decision. He is crossing the line more often the further from reality he gets with his unhealthy obsessions.

       14 likes

  40. radioman970 says:

    RedZoneTuba: Don’t hate OriginalEricJ.Trolls like him should be pitied more than anything else.Try to imagine not
    being smart or good looking or humorous or interesting enough to get anyone to pay attention to you your whole life. The only way you can get any attention at all, to get anyone to even acknowledge your pathetic existence, is to make stupid anonymous statements that elicit some reaction.Something, anything, to make people notice you online and counteract the way they ignore you in real life. I honestly feel sad for you, OriginalEricJ.
    Please seek the help you need. This is no way to live.

    you got some of the definition of Narcissism in your post. I don’t think there is a cure. but ignoring them is the way to handle it. they always go somewhere else or clean up their act

       9 likes

  41. As for He Who Shouldn’t Be Given Attention, I agree with my posting friends here.

    As for the interview I couldn’t agree more. There’s something of a glint in his eye talking about it, and there’s no doubt the man put himself into the part. His sense of humor at his fame make me like him even more and wish I had a chance to share a beer with him.

       12 likes

  42. Torgover says:

    The best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them or ban them. Since Sampo/Erhardt don’t seem to want to ban him, just ignore him.

       9 likes

  43. TorgosPizzaNJ says:

    God bless this man. However, without channeling a certain gloomy poster (see above…) the “Rosdower” thing was one of those MST3K tropes that never reached me…i.e. “Hikeeba”,Sampo, Merrit Stone, Yummy Coco Butter…things which I didn’t believe were funny the first time, repeated ad nauseum; Rest in Peace, Mr. Mitchell.

       1 likes

  44. jjk50 says:

    I just watched “Final Sacrifice” again last night in “honour” of Bruce J. Mitchell and I noticed the end credits on screen have Rowsdower and Troy’s names mixed up. It has Mitchell as Troy and Christian Malcolm as Rowsdower. What’s up with that eh?

       4 likes

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