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George Maharis Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (8) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (2)

Born in Astoria, New York, USA
Birth NameGeorge Maharias

Mini Bio (1)

Tall, dark and handsome, not to mention a charismatic rebel of 60s Hollywood, actor George Maharis (real Greek family name is Mahairas) was born in 1928 in Astoria, New York as one of seven children. His immigrant father was a restaurateur. George expressed an early interest in singing and initially pursued it as a career, but extensive overuse and improper vocal lessons stripped his chords and he subsequently veered towards an acting career.

Trained at the Neighborhood Playhouse with Sanford Meisner and the Actor's Studio with Lee Strasberg, the "Method" actor found roles on dramatic TV, including a few episodes of "The Naked City," and secured an early name for himself on the late 1950s's off-Broadway scene, especially with his performances in Jean Genet's "Deathwatch" and Edward Albee's "Zoo Story". Producer/director Otto Preminger "discovered" George for film, offering the actor a choice of five small roles for his upcoming film Exodus (1960). George chose the role of an underground freedom fighter.

One of the episodes George did on the police drama "The Naked City" series ("Four Sweet Corners") wound up being a roundabout pilot for the buddy adventure series that would earn him household fame. With the arrival of the series Route 66 (1960), the actor earned intense TV stardom and a major cult following as a Brandoesque, streetwise drifter named Buzz Murdock. Partnered with the more fair-skinned, clean-scrubbed, college-educated Tod Stiles (Martin Milner, later star of Adam-12 (1968)), the duo traveled throughout the U.S. in a hotshot convertible Corvette and had a huge female audience getting their kicks off with "Route 66" and George. During its peak, the star parlayed his TV fame into a recording career with Epic Records, producing six albums in the process and peaking with the single "Teach Me Tonight".

During the middle of the series' third season peak, Maharis abruptly left the series with a number of reasons cited. Often quoted is that the virile, seductive image of a fast rising star apparently got to George and he proved increasingly troublesome as he grew in stature. The tabloids reported that George purposely instigated ongoing clashes with both producers and co-star Milner in order to leave the series and seek film stardom while the irons were hot. Maharis denies this and insists that his working relationships on the set were solid and vastly overblown. He cited health reasons as the reason for his leaving, claiming that a long term bout (and relapse) of infectious hepatitis, caught during a 1962 shoot of the series, forced him to abandon the show under doctor's orders.

For whatever reason, Maharis left. His replacement, ruggedly handsome Glenn Corbett, failed to click with audiences and the series was canceled after the next season. Back to pursuing films, the brash and confident actor, with his health scare over, aggressively stardom with a number of leads but the duds he found himself in -- Quick Before It Melts (1964), Sylvia (1965), A Covenant with Death (1967), The Happening (1967), and The Desperados (1969) prime among his list of disasters -- hampered his chances. The best of the lot was the suspense drama, The Satan Bug (1965), but it lacked box-office appeal and disappeared quickly. Moreover, a 1967 sex scandal (and subsequent one in 1974) could not have helped.

Returning to TV in the 70s, George returned to series TV with the short-lived The Most Deadly Game (1970) co-starring fellow criminologists Ralph Bellamy and Yvette Mimieux (who replaced the late Inger Stevens who committed suicide shortly before shooting was about to start). The decade also included a spat of TV-movies including the more notable The Monk (1969) and Rich Man, Poor Man (1976). In between he appeared in Las Vegas nightclubs and summer stock, and was one of the first celebrities to pose for a nude centerfold in Playgirl (July 1973).

His last years brought about the occasional film, most notably as the resurrected warlock in The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) and an appearance in the horror thriller Doppelganger (1993). With his "bad boy" glory days behind him, Maharis' TV career ended rather routinely with guest parts on such popular but unchallenging shows such as "Fantasy Island" and "Murder, She Wrote".

Maharis' later years were spent focusing on impressionistic painting. He has been fully retired since the early 1990s.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Trivia (8)

Brother of Robert Maharis
He left the popular series Route 66 (1960) almost near the end of its third season in an uproar over some contract dispute and was later replaced by Glenn Corbett as Martin Milner's new sidekick. The series wasn't quite the same thereafter, and since Corbett didn't have the chemistry Maharis had with Milner, it lasted a little over a season.
Bared all for a 1970s Playgirl centerfold spread.
His career was damaged a few years after he left "Route 66". A lover of his died and one of the tabloids published a sensational story about their gay union. George claimed that the casting offices stopped calling after that.
Homes in New York City and Beverly Hills -- still painting [2008]
"George Maharis Arrested in Men's Room", Gay Scene, December 1974: "Famous Hollywood actor George Maharis was arrested November 21 and charged with committing a sex act with a hairdresser in the men's room of a gas station in Los Angeles... He was booked on a sex perversion charge along with Perfecto Telles, 33, the hairdresser, and released on $500 bail, according to police.".
George Maharis plead guilty for a Hollywood lewd conduct arrest on 15 December 1967 with a male. Maharis blamed this incident for damaging his career.
Only four years younger than Katy Jurado, who played his mother in A Covenant with Death.

Personal Quotes (2)

You learn to draw from your own life experiences and allow that to serve you as you play a character. It encourages you to be daring, fresh, not repetitive, and it draws you away from imitating. The end result is that your work is honest and believable because you're connected to what you're doing. -- GM, on the positive aspects of "Method" acting
Nelson Riddle was terrific, he really was. And I always loved that theme. It was based on, I think, somebody told me, an old Jimmy Dorsey thing which was called "Oodles of Noodles," but I'm not sure about that. I love that theme, you know. Ba-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-daa. It's just a traveling song. -- GM, on the theme song from the series Route 66 (1960)

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