Feature

George Hamilton’s manufactured image

George Hamilton cultivated the image of a star by imitating the suave moves of marquee idols like Clark Gable and Cary Grant.

George Hamilton is a figment of his own imagination, says John Preston in the London Daily Telegraph. When he arrived in Hollywood at 19 with the goal of becoming a star, Hamilton had little acting talent or experience. So he feigned enormous self-confidence, dressing sharply, tanning with a vengeance, and imitating the suave moves of such marquee idols as Clark Gable and Cary Grant. “In those days, you could basically build yourself a screen personality,” he says. “People would ask, ‘What do you want to be?’ And you’d go, ‘Well, I’d like a bit of him and a bit of him.’ That suited me very well because I’d always had a chameleon-like quality.” Thus began his career as a playboy actor of overweening self-regard and a year-round tan. “It was like a character I chose,” he says. He even bought a 1939 Rolls-Royce and, clad in a chauffeur’s uniform, drove it around Beverly Hills. Whenever someone asked who the owner was, he’d reply, “Why, George Hamilton of course!” At 69, Hamilton is well aware that his bronzed lady-killer image is a kitschy joke. “I take him out whenever people ask,’’ he says, “and I make him do his little dance. Of course, part of him is me, but not all. I hope not, anyway.”

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