George Maharis, star of Route 66 and Fantasy Island, dies at 94


George Maharis, star of Route 66 and Fantasy Island, dies at 94

Veteran actor George Maharis passed away on Wednesday at the age of 94.

He was primarily known for his work in classic television shows like Route 66 and Fantasy island.

Posting a tribute on Facebook, close friend Marc Bahan wrote: ‘George is well known for his stardom in Route 66, stage productions, singing, artist, and above all a great guy would do anything for anyone. My dear friend, you’ll be terribly missed.’

George’s biggest success came in 1960 when he landed the role of Buz Murdock on Route 66, a spinoff of the hit police procedural Naked City.

He was the sidekick to series mainstay Martin Milner, who passed away in 2015 and played the central role of Tod Stiles, a college grad who crisscrossed the United States in his Corvette convertible. 

RIP: Veteran actor George Maharis passed away on Wednesday at the age of 94; pictured in 1970

RIP: Veteran actor George Maharis passed away on Wednesday at the age of 94; pictured in 1970 

Hollywood veteran: Maharis was primarily known for his work in classic television shows like Route 66 and Fantasy island; pictured with his Route 66 co-star Martin Milner (left) in 1962

Hollywood veteran: Maharis was primarily known for his work in classic television shows like Route 66 and Fantasy island; pictured with his Route 66 co-star Martin Milner (left) in 1962

Route 66 followed the characters of Tod and Buz as they faced a variety of adventures on the road.

George’s character embodied a hip swagger in the vein of Jack Kerouac, but he eventually was forced to leave the series in season three due to an infectious case of hepatitis.

Speaking about his departure in 1963, Maharis said: ‘I have to protect my future. If I keep going at the present pace, I’m a fool. Even if you have $4,000,000 in the bank, you can’t buy another liver.’

Despite his brief time on Route 66, Maharis earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in 1962, and the show gradually lost popularity after he left. 

There has been some dispute surrounding his exit, with producers of the show claiming that Maharis wanted to break his contract to make movies, but his biographer Karen Blocher cited homophobia.

She said: ‘The producers felt betrayed and duped when they learned of Maharis’s sexual orientation, and never trusted him again. In a less homophobic era, they might have communicated better, and worked things out.’

Like many closeted actors of his generation, George allegedly struggled with his sexuality in Hollywood. 

He was arrested twice for having sex with men in restrooms – once in 1967 and again in 1974. 

A lasting impression: Despite his brief time on Route 66 (3 seasons), Maharis earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in 1962, and the show gradually lost popularity after he left; pictured in 1970

A lasting impression: Despite his brief time on Route 66 (3 seasons), Maharis earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in 1962, and the show gradually lost popularity after he left; pictured in 1970

Moving on: After Route 66, Maharis embarked on a film career that was primarily concentrated in his heyday of the Sixties. He eventually returned to television in 1970 with a short-lived series called The Most Deadly Game; pictured in 1978

Moving on: After Route 66, Maharis embarked on a film career that was primarily concentrated in his heyday of the Sixties. He eventually returned to television in 1970 with a short-lived series called The Most Deadly Game; pictured in 1978

Multitalented: Beyond Hollywood, the star also branched out into other passions, pursuing secondary careers as a musician and an impressionist painter; pictured in 1960 on Route 66

Multitalented: Beyond Hollywood, the star also branched out into other passions, pursuing secondary careers as a musician and an impressionist painter; pictured in 1960 on Route 66

After Route 66, Maharis embarked on a film career, starring in everything from comedies (Quick, Before It Melts; 1964) to science fiction (The Satan Bug; 1965).

George’s string of films was primarily concentrated in his heyday of the Sixties, and he eventually returned to television in 1970 with a short-lived series called The Most Deadly Game.

He went on to blaze a trail by being one of the first celebrities to pose nude for Playgirl magazine in their July 1973 issue. 

The Hollywood veteran also branched out into other passions, pursuing secondary careers as a musician and an impressionist painter. 



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