By Her Majesty’s Kitschy Request: George Hamilton

Submitted by StoryTroy December 2nd, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner

Would it be possible for Allee to knight folks for kitsch factor, somewhere near the head of the line waiting fot the shoulder tap of her glittered baton would be one standout who’s probably never tasted a cherpumple or owned a golf-ball poodle sculpture: The Man with the Tan, Mister George Hamilton.

We all have our strange role models, and mine as a child was George. Even when federal desgregation bussing meant trucking half an hour to Booker T Washington Middle school every morning, I boarded the big yellow bus many a day in blazer and tie, cheerily whistling fifty year old standards while making sure no young ladies had to stand on the mornings we were overcrowded. I was gonna be stylish and civilized like George if it killed me, no matter how many times I had my shoes thrown on top of the gym by jeering kids in tee shirts.

Behold the recently published autobiography of the icon himself before I go much further..

Ah, that knowing smile, that smart pocket square… I have about twenty years to go before I can get away with an ascot, but I’m so there.

About half a decade back, I finally got to meet George when I worked in the story department on Dancing With the Stars. Brian Gibson and I divvied up the celebs at the start of each season and I lucked out on the chance to work with my old hero, who was joining the show not long after he’d sustained a knee injury that I’d heard was either the result of an onstage fall or an awkward leap onto a yacht. I sooooo wanted to believe the latter.

Each week, I had the pleasure of helping to plan and later edit the rehearsal packages that aired just before each week’s performance. George was game for anything as long as the audience knew he was in on the joke. How else could George and his partner Edyta wind up hunting for his inspirational animal totem at the zoo, for example? After proclaiming that “they can’t beat us with a snake” as Edyta uncomfortably handled a python, George settled on the animated Sifaka monkey that week (an animal which sounds even funnier when you factor in the lovely Edyta’s charming Polish accent).

George had a blast just as we all did watching him. He danced in his Zorro costume, as a gangster, as a dinner-jacketed bon vivant. He put on a real show… always with that same over-the-top, contrived, kitschy wonderfulness that I’ll never forget.

Someone’s put one of his performances (and my favorite package) up on YouTube. I’ll repost it here, citing fair use.

11 Responses to “By Her Majesty’s Kitschy Request: George Hamilton”

  1. Allee Willis

    Love your commentary! You are SO right that if I could knight people George Hamilton would be on top of the list for the crown or the cape or whatever it is that’s bestowed upon those who are knighted.

    I’m very envious that you got to meet George let alone work with him when you worked on Dancing With the Stars. Excellent that you included the link to George and his dancing prowess. You have an excellent package!

    I love the George may have busted his knee by attempting to leap on a yacht.
    Now how about that Alan King photo?

    • StoryTroy

      Many (indeed, most) reality shows have them, Douglas. Just keep an eye out for those “story editor” and “story producer” credits. Depending on the production, those folks help to compress time, write outlines, pen everything from narrator/host copy to interview questions (and desired responses) to… well… don’t pull back that curtain too far.

      Unlike most other creative endeavors, their work is best appreciated when it appears to be invisible.

      • k2dtw

        I love reading this.. I’m a huge fan of DWTS.. I didn’t start watching until the funny and debonair George Hamilton joined the cast, then i was hooked. I love your quote…”George was game for anything as long as the audience knew he was in on the joke” ..It seems like It has been that way with George since forever???
        If the reality shows have writers, producers, and directors???…is it only the actors who are getting the short end??

  2. Douglas Wood

    You’re right– on the worst reality shows everything seems very contrived and scripted– you can just feel everyone behind the scenes laboring to create conflict or anything dramatically interesting on-screen– while on the best, the events seem completely real and are hugely compelling. I have no doubt writers contribute to both.

    • Allee Willis

      Well, that’s a mistake. Reality is my favorite genre. The copycats stink but many of the the originals are fabulous. I can’t believe you wouldn’t watch a show like American Pickers are because they do exactly what you do. I’m not crazy about the two guys who go picking but I’m always crazy about the places they end up then to do it. you

      • k2dtw

        We love American Pickers… Denny you will love the show, it’s on the History Channel.
        We just saw both versions of the Storage Auction Shows…OMG!!!