George Hamilton: A Tan For All Seasons

If George Hamilton’s long career in TV and film has taught us anything, it’s that cultural relevance depends almost exclusively on one’s ability to reinvent oneself. Known today primarily for his permanent tan and penchant for self-parody, it’s easy to forget that Hamilton began his career looking very much the part of a clean-cut collegiate type.

Hamilton began his career in the ’50s playing a wide-range of supporting actor roles under studio contract at MGM. By 1959 he secured his first lead role, playing Robert in the film adaptation of “Crime and Punishment.” It was a role that helped establish Hamilton as both a serious actor and a polished, sophisticated leading man. He would work steadily throughout the early ’60s in a variety of respectable films, including the lead in the coming of age Spring Break film “Where The Boys Are” as the love interest of Dolores Hart.

Hamilton’s serious film career took a downturn, however, when his relationship with the daughter of then-President Johnson (Lynda Bird Johnson) became public.

With many writing off their relationship as nothing more than a publicity stunt, Hamilton’s offers for leading-man roles disappeared almost immediately. Yet his impressive sartorial skills were never better, as these photos show, with Hamilton easily translating his youthful Hollywood look to the polished halls of the Washington elite.

Over the last 30 years Hamilton has become a staple of the entertainment industry by appearing in countless films and TV series, and remaining as visible on the social scene as he was in the ’60s. Always a man of style, his highly publicized romances with Elizabeth Taylor and Imelda Marcos, as well as his recent penning of two co-authored biographies, attest to his ability to constantly remain part of the cultural conversation. — TOM RYAN

Tom Ryan is a Seattle-based writer who loves jazz, striped ties, and drinking red wine while wearing a striped tie and listening to jazz. He can be reached at

5 Comments on "George Hamilton: A Tan For All Seasons"

  1. I’m not a fan of the permanent tan. It’s kind of alien-like

  2. Brian Sheridan | May 20, 2009 at 5:54 pm |

    I interviewed Hamilton for a story published in Classic Images magazine. He was a joy to talk with and very accommodating.

    He talks about his clothes in my piece, which you can read here:

    If you look under the E-Edition tab, under Dec 2008, you can read the story as it it appeared in the issue along with a sidebar on Hamilton trying to buy Cary Grant’s last pair of shoes.

  3. Christian | May 20, 2009 at 6:17 pm |

    Brian, do you have a Google alert set up for the guy or something?

    I already came across your interview; it’s linked in the story on “Hamilton.”



  4. Richard Meyer | May 21, 2009 at 7:33 am |

    The only guy left in Hollywood that knows how to dress.

  5. Brian Sheridan | May 21, 2009 at 8:40 am |

    LOL! I do have a Google alert for Hamilton. But I also have this site bookmarked. You really do a wonderful job here. Sorry that I didn’t check the link before posting my comment.

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