George Maharis, a brawny, handsome New York-born stage actor who later became a TV favorite in the 1960s as the star of the “Route 66” series, died Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 94 years old.
His longtime friend and caretaker Mark Bahan confirmed his death.
Maharis’ greatest claim to fame is being one of two young men who traveled around the country in a Corvette convertible, finding new adventures and drama (and usually new young women) on CBS’ Route 66 every week. , born out of the role of Buzz Murdoch.
In a 2012 re-evaluation of the show, New York Times critic and reporter Neil Genzlinger praised the script’s literary quality, stating, “This half-century-old black-and-white TV series tackles a very 21st-century problem. I’m there,’ he commented.
Several actors who would later become famous appeared on the show, including Martin Sheen, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, and Barbara Eden.
“Route 66” began in 1960, and Maharis left the show in 1963. Co-star Martin Milner got a new partner, Glen Corbettand the series lasted for one more season.
Maharis attributed his departure to health reasons (he had hepatitis), but author and blogger Karen Blotcher, who interviewed Maharis and the show’s key figures, said: I have written In 2006, the story turned out to be more complicated.
Herbert B. Leonard, the show’s executive producer, said, “For the show, I thought I had hired a young handsome, hip, sexy guy who was a good actor that every girl would aspire to be,” Blotcher wrote. there is “This was all true of Maharis, but it wasn’t the whole story, as Leonard found angry and disappointed. It turned out George was gay.”
Mr. Blotcher attributed Mr. Maharis’ resignation to many factors. “When the producers found out about Maharis’ sexual orientation, they felt betrayed and deceived and never trusted him again,” she wrote, adding, “From Maharis’ side, it’s hard to believe that I’m in charge of the show. I started to feel like I wasn’t there,” he added.
Maharis was arrested in 1967 for “lewd conduct” and in 1974 for “sexual perversion” by using the men’s restroom.
He didn’t talk about his sexuality in interviews, but he did. explained A July 1973 Playgirl magazine nude insert was published in Esquire in 2017.
“A lot of guys came to me and asked me to sign for their ‘wives,'” he said.
Before Maharis became a TV star, he had well-received productions in theaters. In 1958, he played a hitman in the Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet’s Deathwatch. Luis Carta, writing for The New York Times, called Maharis’ performance “pretty erratic, grim, soft and crafty.”
Two years later, Mr. Maharis starred in the Off-Broadway production of Edward Albee’s “Zoo Story” at the Provincetown Playhouse. That same year, he was one of 12 young actors to win a Theater World Award. Other winners included Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Patty Duke and Carol Burnett. In 1962, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for “Route 66.”
In 1963, Mr. Maharis told a Times reporter that he treated the television series like a summer stock theater job.
“This series has taught me how to stay true to myself and not be drawn into compromise,” he said.
George Maharis was born on September 1, 1928 in the Astoria area of Queens, the son of a Greek restaurateur. He attended Flushing High School and then served in the Marine Corps.
He told an interviewer that he worked as a mechanic, a dance instructor, and a short-term cook before becoming a successful actor. However, he first aspired to a singing career, and after becoming a TV star, he recorded albums such as ‘George Maharis Sings!’, ‘Portrait in Music’ and ‘Just Turn Me Loose! bottom. At least one of his singles.”tell me tonightwas a hit.
After leaving “Route 66,” Maharis starred in feature films such as “Sylvia,” starring Carroll Baker, and the sci-fi drama “The Satan Bug” (both 1965). He returned to television in 1970, starring in the ABC detective show The Most Deadly Game alongside Ralph Bellamy and Yvette Mimieux, but the show lasted only three months.
During the 1970s and early 80s, he made guest appearances in other television series such as ‘Police Story’, ‘Bionic Woman’ and ‘Fantasy Island’. He also appeared in occasional TV movies, including the poorly rated 1976 Rosemary’s Baby sequel. He didn’t do much work in the 1980s, making his final screen appearance in a supporting role in the 1993 horror film The Doppelgänger, starring Drew Barrymore.
Information about his survivors was not immediately available.
Maharis said he didn’t get a chance to see “Route 66” until it was re-released on DVD in 2007, due to filming schedules at the time the show aired. Said Website “Route 66 News” that year.
“I was really surprised by their strength,” he said. “For the first time, I could see what other people were seeing.”
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that same year, he reflected on the “Route 66” era and how the country has changed since then. “Maybe he went from town 80 miles away to the next town and there was a whole other world,” he said. “Now he’s gone 3,000 miles and one town is the same as another.”