Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Monday, April 23, 2012

George Maharis

Hollywood actor George Maharis (b. 1928) was arrested November 21, 1974 and charged with committing a sex act with a male hairdresser in the men's room of a gas station in Los Angeles. 46 years old at the time, Maharis was booked on a sex perversion charge and released on $500 bail. Six years earlier Maharis had been arrested by a vice squad officer for lewd conduct in the restroom of a Hollywood restaurant; the officer said Maharis made a pass at him.

Well, now that we have that out of the way...

Best known for his role as Buz Murdock on the hit 1960s CBS television series Route 66, Maharis had just posed nude for Playgirl magazine the year before his 1974 arrest. Route 66 was a 1960-1964 series about two guys and a Corvette who roamed the country together – often dressed in coats and ties, for no apparent reason. I kid you not. Maharis received an Emmy nomination for this role in 1962. However, Maharis left the wildly popular show before it ended its run, and there has been much speculation as to why.

Maharis told the story that he had contracted infectious hepatitis in 1962, and that the shoots were so grueling that to continue would risk his health. He asked the producers to give him a less arduous schedule, but they refused, and he left the show, to be replaced by Glenn Corbett in the role of  Lincoln Case. However, others relate a different scenario. Route 66 producer Herbert B. Leonard found out that Maharis was gay and was having a hard time keeping his star’s sexual activities away from the press. Maharis also used the illness, Leonard said, as an excuse to break his contract so that he could get into movies. Co-star Martin Milner (in the role of Tod) and a Route 66 writer-producer confirm this version. Maharis eventually did break into movies, but they were all forgettable B-grade films. Maharis also played stage roles, but nothing ever matched his success as Buz on Route 66, and the TV show never recovered from Maharis’s departure.

According to Karen Blocher, who is working on a book about Maharis and has interviewed him for the project, the reality of why Maharis left Route 66 is a combination of the two. She writes, “The producers felt betrayed and duped when they learned of Maharis's sexual orientation, and never trusted him again. Maharis, for his part, started to feel that he was carrying the show and was going unappreciated. So when he got sick, and came back, and started griping about the working conditions, the producers assumed it was all a ploy to either get more money or else get out of his contract and go make movies. In a less homophobic era, they might have communicated better, and worked things out instead of letting each other down.”

Maharis also had a singing career, releasing seven albums between the years 1962 and 1966, a time period that overlapped his appearance on Route 66. Maharis regularly appeared in Las Vegas nightclubs during the 1980s.



Here’s a complete one-hour episode from early 1962.

47 comments:

  1. George Maharis will always be a positive role model to me as a kid needing someone to look-up to.The tv show "Route 66" painted such a positive image of two guys working and finding adventure....At the time of the show.Millions of kids would have loved that lifesyle they portrayed.

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    1. I so agree, George was (is) a really great actor, I would feel so SAFE with him since I wouldn't have 2 worry about him wanting what I WASN'T going 2 GIVE away.. sorta like a BIG brother..

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  2. George Maharis was a great method actor who brought intensity and vital force to his role as Buz Murdock in Route 66. He will always be fondly remembered by many of my generation. He made a great contribution to the early days of tv drama.

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    1. He's still alive, you know.

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    2. I agree! I love the show!

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  3. I remember vividly driving along side him in Hollywood one evening. He was even better looking in person than on screen. It didn't change my opinion of him to find out later he was gay, but I, like many other women, was very disappointed.

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  4. Loved this show and the carefree yet responsible adventurers. There was and is in my heart a certain freedom of the soul which has never been
    duplicated. George Maharis.. awesome. Not worth Watching after he left.

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  5. George Maharis is still one of thee most sexiest men on television!! I wish I had been a stage hand on the show which today still has a captive audience of millions of fans. I am proud to know that he stood up for what he believed in and look forward to reading the book when it comes out. I am a late fan to the show, but I really enjoy watching one of thee most beautiful creatures God gave life to!!

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  6. Does anyone know what he's doing now? Is he healthy and enjoying retirement?

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    1. I believe he does paintings and he appears to still be healthy. He did a radio interview almost 2 years ago. He was 85. He sounded great! He still sounded like he did on Route 66. It was a great interview. He're the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJCRqOR4-VM

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    2. Does he have an email address? He was a friend of my aunts'. I met him when I was 20years old. Now 62. I would like to talk to him again.

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  7. he is still alvie and enjoying his life.

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  8. I just found out about Route 66 about 4 months ago. Last night may be the last time that I'd stay up to watch the show. It seems to have gone downhill just after 2 shows since Maharis left.

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  9. Do you have recent photos of him?

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  10. Great actor. Definitely lifted this programme above the ordinary and encouraged me to hit the road and find my own way. Handsome as hell too.

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  11. Maharis gave the show, Route 66 intensity and played various roles in the show that made it much more interesting. I was sad to see him leave the show. No one ever matched his abilities as an actor and the parts he played. He was the perfect partner to Todd's role. As for being gay, back then it was a topic you did not dare mention. It should never of had any barring on the out come of him leaving the show. His acting abilities were the main reason he should of been "allowed" to stay.Being gay is not a choice. You are born that way. God made all so he must of made gays also. It was not his decision to be that way. Love is love no matter where it comes from. May there always be more love in the world. I loved George Maharis. It's too bad that was one of the reasons he left the show. It was NEVER THE SAME AGAIN AFTER HIS LEAVE. Thank you George for your part in Route 66. Hope life is treating you well.

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    1. U R SOOO CORRECT....He is a FABULOUS GUY....

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    2. Lol....i didn't know George was gay, and I, now 63 had a huge crush on him and I still love watching Route 66 when it shows on MeTv or GetTv. God Bless George. Love, Manuel

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    3. I met George Maharis at a luncheon for an Asthma foundation. My mother knew his personal secretary and invited my mother. When I saw him, a friend of my mother introduced me to him. I invited him to my parents house and gave him their number. He called me the next day and invited me to a party. When was married to my first husband, I saw George in a movie and said that if I were single, I would love to go out with him. Well, I went the party and felt like Cinderella. I met Joan Collin, Steve McQeen, his then wife Nell, Rock Hudson and a few other people. After the party, we had a bite to eat and then he took me home. When we walked into my apartment, he kissed me and I thought that my heart would stop, because it was beating so fast. I was 22 years old and shortly after our date, I moved back to San Francisco. I never knew if he wanted to see me again. What I can say is that he was not only handsome, but kind, intelligent and my time with him was perfect. I think of him often and wish him much happiness and from his photo's in his twilight years, he still looks amazing. I told him that I lived in Chicago and so I guess I am that young woman who fulfilled a dream and am grateful that I had the opportunity to have that one perfect time in her life. I am now in my early 70's, but have the heart and spirit of that girl, who had the courage to follow her heart even for a moment in time. That was truly the best night of my life and I think of him often and wonder, what if?

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  12. George Maharis was the best actor on the show. Who the hell cares who he sleeps with when it's two consenting adults. Especially if love is involved. Not enough love in this world. The show went down hill after he left it. He played the perfect partner to Todd. And made Tod look better than he really was because of Maharis's acting skills & abilities. It's a sad state of affairs when you dump a person because of what he does behind his closed doors that you abused by announcing that info to the public. You had no right to do that. You lost an engaging,amiable and enlivening actor that added the spice to the show. Too bad for you.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    3. From your blogger: I will not allow "anonymous" replies that flame other commenters, use foul language or promote bigotry. The information in my posts about these men is from Internet sources - none of it is original research or first-hand knowledge.

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  13. Milner is also a fabulous actor. The Chemistry with Maharis and Milner was great.. On Route 66.

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  14. @Paula -- It wasn't what he did "behind closed doors" that was the problem... it was what he did in public restrooms. That was a matter of public record.

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    1. I agree, and that goes for anyone, gay or straight.

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    2. I, too, agree with your statement of fact. In my eyes Maharis lacked morals.

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  15. People in the LBGT community encouter so many obstacles it's a wonder any of them make it through life at all. George was hot and I was enamored with him when I watched Route 66 every week. I followed him in magazines and bought his music.I don't care if he is gay, trans, purple or green. I would be so proud to call him my friend.

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  16. I was a child when Route 66 was a top show. I was into cartoons instead of adult shows but I started watching Route 66 as an adult and I loved the show!
    George Maharis is absolutely wonderful to watch! Not only because of his awesome looks but like many great looking actors he can actually act! I loved his caring and sensitive side on the show.
    Martin Milner and George Maharis made friendship seem great and the show had wonderful adventures with the two of them! It's a shame George decided to leave the show as I could have gone on and on watching him on the show.

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  17. I've known George Maharis for over 40 years. He is a remarkable person with incredible talent. He was booked for a one week play at the Union Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas called "Not Now Darling" The prop telephone broke to bits during the first act. Of course the audience screamed with laughter every time the disintegrating phone rang. George, always the serious professional with the show must go on attitude, pulled it off brilliantly! The show got a standing ovation and was continued for about a year to sold out crowds replacing the broken phone with a prop breakaway phone to assure that it would happen every time. George knew how to turn a disaster into a smashing success! I love you George. Give David Dalton an email sometime thedaltongangrides@yahoo.com

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  18. Because of all of the negativity from the past I understand why it would be important for someone who's Gay to want to come out. But honestly. I enjoyed Route 66 as a kid. My parents watched it. The theme song is still in my head. His sexual preferences are of no concern to me. And learning that he's Gay does not diminish a bit my found memories of watching that great program with my parents. They're both gone now. So I hang on to every little memory of them that I have. And Route 66 co-starring George Maharis is a part of that.

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    1. I cannot help but wonder if your parents (or mine & others) would have approved their children (or themselves) watching the show, if the fact that Maharis was homosexual had been known?

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  19. My sister and our cousin and I, met George Maharis and Martin Milner when the were filming Route 66 in Boston. They stayed at the Madison Hotel in the north end area, which the hotel was just demolished in the past few years.

    I was excited to also have had a picture taken with him in the lobby of the Madison Hotel and his arms around my chest...boy he didn't appear to be gay to me.

    After the picture was taken he told us it was his birthday September 1, if I remember and I gave him a kiss on the cheek and said Happy Birthday.

    Years later when we were older, George had come to Boston while he was promoting his singing career and cut a record. We had gone to the radio studio, I don't remember where and I brought my picture of him and I and he did remember that event!
    Wow hard to believe he is past on and very upsetting to hear that he may have been gay.

    Well, just yesterday, I found a tv channel in Boston that had all the episodes of Route 66 since the beginning of the series...it's like living those wonderful years over again...

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    1. That's so cool! I wish I could have met those two. I wasn't born until 1971 and didn't know of Route 66 until this year when the Decades network had a Route 66 marathon. I just fell in love with that show as well as the two lead handsome actors. They were the yin/yang of that show and although Glenn Corbett was gorgeous, he just didn't have the great chemistry that George had with Martin. George was such a great actor as well as a Greek god...lol. I heard a recent interview he had and he sounds great! I wish I could meet him to tell him in person how great he is!

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    2. He's still alive!

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  20. I love route 66 it was great show and beautiful memories ...

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  21. love both actors great memories ...

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  22. I like to remember George the way he was when I met him years ago. I had watched his television show as a kid, and always thought he was so handsome. Then, back around 1974, we met at a benefit that was put together by Bob Hope, and we spent the evening enjoying each other's company at the dinner Bob hosted at the Hilton. It was a star-studded evening, with Zza Zza Gabor there, along with Jimmy Stewart, Fess Parker, Steve Allen and Jane Meadows and a host of others, but I was quite enamored with George and never left his side. We ended up together in his hotel room, and all I will tell you is that he was totally drop dead gorgeous in the nude. George had lots of confidence, and I liked that, and I especially loved the fact that he became a successful actor when the odds were stacked against him as a child. I haven't seen him in years, but I bet he is still as handsome as ever, and I remember he told me that he would never stop working out and staying in shape. Hope he kept that promise. I'm sure there is some lucky man somewhere who is happy with him.

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  23. Great knowing so many enjoyed ROUTE 66, and still enjoy reruns, knowing about George's sexual orientation. just proves ones sexual orientation should play no part in life.

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  24. I have heard that George still has the black 1962 Corvette that Chevrolet gave him. I would not be surprised if he still drives it around Los Angeles where he lives.
    Damn good actor. When 'Route 66' lost George - they lost the show. And THAT ... is that !

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  25. I remember watching Buzz and Todd as a kid and always wanted to be like the George's Character. Even now all these years later knowing what I know about him. He's still the man to me and I am strait as an arrow. Today I have 6 Vettes because of George and have made the Rout 66 pilgrimage twice stopping in almost every place that I know they shot an episode; not to mention a few places that aren't part of Rt.66 in Fla. Martin couldn't carry the show and Corbit was not rugged enough, nor had the flair for the opposite to Milner's Todd. When Maharanis left, I do believe that they lost a show that would have run strong for a decade.... Look back at the 60's. The Corvette started to rule and who hasn't dreamed about dropping everything and going on an odyssey like that... Look at all the great actors who passed through route 66. Everybody wanted to be a part of this show. Remember how it ended. It basically launched I Dream of Genie. Today they knight and vote gays into office. Back then admitting he was gay may have got him lynched.

    Peace all!

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  26. BTW, We just lost Martin Milner so may he rest in peace.

    Pease all!

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  27. Growing up George was one of the comparatively Few gorgeous men on TV. I remember Clint Walker, Ty Hardin amongst others. George was very gorgeous to look at. It was a shame that he faded from the screen(although he did have a few movies). I hope he is happy and well, he deserves to be I thank him for providing a youngster with a fantasy!

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  28. I remembered seeing a movie with my parents when I was in fourth grade in 1967 at the Odeon Theater in Tucumcari, NM. The movie took place in New Mexico, possibly near the end of territorial days. I thought the title was 'A Covenant of Murder' but when I researched it I found the title is 'A Covenant With Death.' I ordered it and just finished watching it. George Maharis was amazing in the lead role and I would recommend it to anyone - Maharis fan or not. And, George, if you read this, thank you for being a role model for more people than you realize.

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  29. I waited for Fridays nights, because George Maharis was on the TV at 7pm. I bought countless magazines that he was featured in, and pasted the pictures on my bedroom walls. I listened to his record nonstop. It was so much fun to have a crush on him when I was 12 or 13 years old. I wish that I could have met you, just so that I could say thanks for the fun you brought to my life as a young girl. You were my one and only movie star crush ! :)

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  30. FWIW George has never really been a car guy, and has never owned a Corvette in the last 50 years. A pony Mustang, a succession of Mercs, even a Ford Explorer, but no Vette. Always a gentleman, and inexplicably a conservative Republican.

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  31. I was 14 and so in love with him (still am) I stopped watching route 66 when he left. I'm a woman. He might be bi, ladies, I'm hoping.

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