Favorite

Gorgeous George and his lovely ladies 

Blytheville native Hamilton offers his story.

DON'T MIND IF HE DOES: Hamilton's memoir.
  • DON'T MIND IF HE DOES: Hamilton's memoir.

George Hamilton's acting career doesn't quite cry out for a memoir. The Blytheville native's best-known roles came fairly late in his career: as Dracula in the 1979 spoof comedy “Love at First Bite” and as Robert Duvall's replacement in 1990's “The Godfather III.” Now 69, Hamilton's remained in the spotlight in recent years as a pitchman for Nabisco Toasted Chips (his perma-tan starred) and by competing on “Dancing with the Stars.” His continued stardom seems almost tautological, as if he's famous simply for being famous.

If “Don't Mind if I Do” (Touchstone, $26, hardcover), co-written by William Stadiem, dispels that idea, it does so with only a slight deflection. The book is short on anecdotes on acting or the methodology of directors and long on jet setting and the beautiful people, even in its pre-fame first half. And thank goodness. Who wants to read a celebrity memoir without dishy details?

Hamilton's pathology comes naturally. His father, George “Spike” Hamilton, led a swinging life and a nationally known orchestra, and divorced his mother for a young singer when George was a boy. (He was still a boy, at 12, when, he says, he lost his virginity to his stepmother.)

Hamilton characterizes his mother, nicknamed Teeny, as the ultimate Southern belle, which, perhaps, is a nice way of saying she was a lot to handle. Of all the women who star in Hamilton's life in “Don't Mind,” and there are many, from Imelda Marcos to Elizabeth Taylor, none shine brighter or battier.

In a typical Teeny story, late in the memoir, Hamilton describes walking into a Spanish brothel to find his mother at the bar, drinking with Ava Gardner. “What in the world are you doing here?” he asked her in shock. “I should ask the same of you,” she replied.

After his parents divorced, Hamilton spent much of the rest of his childhood tagging along on Teeny's cross-country search for husbands.

Those were crackling good days for Hamilton, or at least formatively glamorous ones, as he learned to play poker from Hoagy Carmichael, lunched with Douglas MacArthur, skinny dipped with JFK and romanced a woman rumored to have been the inspiration for Truman Capote's Holly Golightly.

Emboldened by his mother's social connections and the power of tanning (“Suntanning was going to be to me what the phone booth, funny blue suit, and cape were to Superman,” he writes. “Without a tan I was just another paleface in the crowd.”) and buoyed by his early brushes with fame, Hamilton leapt into Hollywood in the late '50s. He was, he writes, “John Barrymore in a James Dean world,” a polished gentlemen in an era of rebels. But through a combination of luck and his own wiles, he carved out an impressively lucrative early career, signing a seven-picture deal to MGM.

If that didn't yield any great films, it did allow Hamilton access to the rich and famous, about whom he's more than happy to dish. The cast of characters who make extended appearances will be tantalizing to any pop-culture hound — Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, Lyndon Johnson, Evel Knievel, Colonel Tom Parker, Robert Mitchum.

“Don't Mind if I Do” is self-promoting, sure, but its got a healthy dose of self-deprecation, a rare quality in Hollywood, that helps everything go down easy.

Favorite

Tags:

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in Books

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Woeful

    • If the UA could get the SEC to stop all games if at any time…

    • on December 2, 2016
  • Re: Woeful

    • The Mizz loss was worse than getting beat by Louisiana-Moron

    • on December 2, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation