Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Neil Hamilton

I happened to be watching a 1932 Constance Bennett (1904 - 1965) movie the other day. You remember her...Joan's sister? The movie was called What Price Hollywood? and she was the star. Not a bad flick for 1932 which showcased some of the excesses of the Hollywood life, with a love story and a 'girl finds her dream' story mixed in.

The male lead, a polo star, was played by Neil Hamilton (1899 - 1984), a handsome actor with 162 titles on IMDb from 1918 to 1971.

In his early, silent film days, he worked with stars including Mae Marsh (1894 - 1968), Lionel Barrymore (1878 - 1954) and Bessie Love (1898 - 1986), and great directors including D. W. Griffith (1975 - 1948) and William de Mille (1878 - 1955) Cecil's brother.

Perhaps his most famous silent was Beau Geste (1926) starring Ronald Colman (1891 - 1958) and featuring Noah Beery (1882 - 1946) and William Powell (1892 - 1984).

While most of his roles in the early talkies were good roles, and sometimes starring roles, the films were not all top caliber releases. He was in three mysteries with Warner Oland (1879 - 1938), The Studio Murder MysteryThe Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu (both in 1929) and The Return of Dr. Fu Machu in 1930. Also in 1930 he worked with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (1909 - 2000) in The Dawn Patrol.

Hamilton does manage to lead the cast in the first Tarzan film that starred Johnny Weissmuller (1904 - 1984), Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), and he reprises the same role in Tarzan and His Mate (1934).

The 1940s had more films, with only a few famous titles like Father Takes a Wife (1941) starring Adolphe Menjou (1890 - 1963) and Gloria 'I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. de Mille' Swanson (1899 - 1983).

Then in the 1950s, he moves into television. He started as a host on "Hollywood Screen Test" from 1948 to 1953. He made the rounds on many teleplays and all the usual westerns, including "Maverick," "Colt .45," "Tales of Wells Fargo," etc. He also worked in detective shows with spots on "Mike Hammer," "Bourbon Street Beat," "Hawaiian Eye," "Perry Mason," and "77 Sunset Strip." And let's not leave out the comedies, "The Real McCoys," and "Mister Ed." Oh yes, and sci-fi fans saw him in "The Outer Limits."

Then, finally, in 1966 he lands the TV role that really made him famous. He became Commissioner Gordon on "Batman" starring Adam West (b. 1928) and Burt Ward (b. 1945).

Hmmm, Burt Ward...Now there's a Bit Actor to write about! Anyone who would take a role as Mr. Bum in the R rated Beach Babes from Beyond (1993) is worthy of a post!