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George Stevens Hamilton (1939–)

George Stevens Hamilton is an American film, stage, and television actor widely known for his dashing good looks, jet-setting image, and trademark tan. Hamilton has extensive film and television credits spanning nearly six decades.

Born on August 12, 1939, in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Blytheville (Mississippi County), George Hamilton is the son of touring bandleader George William “Spike” Hamilton and Southern socialite Ann Stevens of Blytheville. Hamilton’s early years were spent in Blytheville, where his mother’s parents also resided. In addition to an older brother from his mother’s previous marriage, Hamilton also had a younger brother. According to his memoir, the boys lived an idyllic life in small-town Blytheville and enjoyed a close relationship with their grandparents.

In 1944, marital difficulties arose between Hamilton’s parents, ultimately leading to divorce. In 1947, both of his grandparents died. Devastated by their loss, Ann Hamilton determined that she and her three sons should re-locate. At the flip of a coin, it was decided to head west for Hollywood, California.

Throughout his youth, Hamilton attended numerous high schools, including Hackley, an exclusive private school in Tarrytown, New York. His senior year, however, was spent at Palm Beach High, Florida, where he fell just short of graduation in 1957. It was here that Hamilton began seriously to consider acting as a career. Having met with success in a school production of Brigadoon, Hamilton was awarded “Best Actor in Florida” in a competition sponsored by the University of Florida.

Subsequently, Hamilton decided to take his chances in Hollywood. Like many of the newly arrived hopefuls in Los Angeles, California, Hamilton lived a meager lifestyle while searching for his first break. After securing an agent, Hy Sieger of the Mitchell Gertz Agency, Hamilton landed a role in the 1959 movie Crime and Punishment, USA. His performance was rewarded with a Golden Globe for “Most Promising Newcomer,” as well as a nomination for “Best Foreign Actor” by the British Film Academy (BAFTA). For the next decade, Hamilton starred in a variety of films from the dramatic to the inane, with several of his performances drawing critical acclaim, including Where the Boys Are (1960), Act One (1963), and Your Cheatin’ Heart (1964). However, by the end of the 1960s, he began to draw more notice for his appearances in newspaper society sections and his role as an escort to socialites and Hollywood stars. Most notably, in 1966, he was associated with Lynda Bird Johnson, the daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Hamilton experienced a comeback in the 1979 Dracula spoof, Love at First Bite. Nominated for a Golden Globe, he continued this success with Zorro, the Gay Blade in 1981. This renewed popularity led to a one-year stint on Dynasty (1981) and a string of TV commercials for Ritz Crackers and Wheat Thins. More recently, he has appeared in such reality shows as The Family (2003), which he hosted, and he was a contestant in the second season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars (2005). He played Santa Claus in the movie A Very Cool Christmas (2004). In the fall of 2011, he began starring as Georges in a revival of the Broadway touring production of La Cage aux Folles.

Hamilton was married to actress/TV personality Alana Kaye Collins from 1972 to 1975; the couple had one son. Another son, born in 2000, came from Hamilton’s relationship with Kimberly Blackford.

In 2008, Hamilton penned an autobiography, Don’t Mind If I Do, which chronicled his family life, rise to fame, and associations with the rich and famous. On October 30, 2008, Hamilton appeared at a book-signing event hosted by That Bookstore in Blytheville, where he shared his childhood memories of Blytheville.

For additional information:
Beifuss, John. “From Blytheville to Hollywood, George Hamilton Looks Back in Memoir.” Memphis Commercial Appeal, November 4, 2008. Online at http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/nov/04/from-blytheville/ (accessed April 16, 2014).

“George Hamilton.” Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001313/bio (accessed April 16, 2014).

Hamilton, George, with William Stadiem. Don’t Mind If I Do. New York: Touchstone Press/Simon & Schuster, 2008.

Toney Butler Schlesinger
Granite Bay, California

Last Updated 4/16/2014

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