Thursday, February 2, 2012
Diplo-man of Style: George Hamilton... and also La Cage aux Folles
If you hear the name George Hamilton these days, you probably think of an insanely white grin and equally insanely tanned skin. But back in the day, George Hamilton was dashing and practically downright smouldering, he essentially is what people mean when they say things like "debonair" - dark waves of hair and an easy going smile that made you feel like you were the only one in the room. Mr. Hamilton though was known for giving this smile to just about everyone - not really one to settle down, except for one marriage to Alana Stewart, he was one of the great MGM playboys - and also one of their last contract actors. If you're ever curious about the contract actor's life, Tony Curtis's autobiography sheds a lot of light on the lifestyle though I've also seen that Mr. Hamilton has his own books, which I haven't yet read. One in particular about his mother, who was married six times was the basis for a movie with Renee Zellweger. And George was no slouch himself, charming his stepmother into being more than his stepmother when he was a wee 12, in addition to some other conquests which now would likely be considered quite dubious if not outright illegal. You can read more about it in his Daily Mail and View Interview here.
So why George Hamilton today? Well last night I was able to see him perform in La Cage aux Folles at the Kennedy Center, playing the role of - who else - Georges the clubowner. The show started out a bit slow, but once the cast hit their stride, the pace picked up. Mr. Hamilton is older now and you can see it on stage - his moves are a bit slower, and so is his voice. But about halfway through the production, it actually struck me that this is precisely what ends up making Georges a believable character. As we know, I have a terrible fondness for Robin Williams' adaptation as Armand in the Birdcage, but at some point Georges mentions his relationship of over twenty years with Albin and it all is in perspective. Speaking of Albin, Christopher Sieber does an excellent ZaZa, especially during his last "I am what I am" piece at the end of the first act. When he sings "I bang my own drum, Some think it's noise, I think it's pretty", not only does it evoke memories of Sally Bowles when she paints her fingernails green simply because she thinks it's pretty despite disapproval from others, if you're really listening, it makes you think of all the times you've tried to make someone else into something they're not. Anyway, the Cagelles keep things light, lots of overacting there but then again, they work in a drag club - their dancing though it was truly stands out. There are some limber gents in that group!
And George Hamilton? He might move a little slower...but he's still dashing and debonair in every way. And I'm pretty sure he was winking at me from the stage. Me and every other woman in there.
Ps - you can read about his mother's equally fascinating life here.
Photos (from top): Stirred Straight Up, Fashion's Most Wanted, by Marina Cigona via Sublimacje, Loose Leaf Tigers, PB Pulse, Rex Features via Fashion's Most Wanted.
With the exception of the photo attributed to Marina Cigona and Rex Features, all others are credited to where they were sourced from - if you happen to know who took the other originals, drop me a line so that I can attribute fully!