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Murray Hamilton

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Murray HamiltonLife story

Murray Hamilton was an American stage, screen, and television character actor who appeared in such films as Anatomy of a Murder, The Hustler, The Graduate, The Amityville Horror and Jaws.

Murray Hamilton (March 24, 1923 – September 1, 1986) was an American stage, screen, and television character actor who appeared in such films as Anatomy of a Murder, The Hustler, The Graduate, The Amityville Horror and Jaws.

Early life

Born in Washington, North Carolina, Hamilton displayed an early interest in performing during his days at Washington High School just before America's entry into World War II. Bad hearing kept him from enlisting, so he moved to New York City as a 19-year-old to find a career on stage.


In an early role, he performed on stage with Henry Fonda in the classic wartime story Mister Roberts as a replacement for David Wayne, playing Ensign Pulver. In 1960, he was onstage again with Fonda in Critic's Choice; Howard Taubman of The New York Times called him "properly obnoxious as the director". Hamilton was teamed once more with Fonda in 1968 for the drama film The Boston Strangler.

His best known performance is as Larry Vaughn, the obdurate mayor of Amity, in the Steven Spielberg thriller Jaws (1975). Hamilton reprised the role in the sequel, Jaws 2 in 1978. He was approached to reprise his role in Jaws: The Revenge, but died in 1986 aged 63 . Other notable big-screen appearances include the critically acclaimed 1959 film Anatomy of a Murder with James Stewart, in which he played the bartender Al Pacquette, who gives testimony in the murder of Barney Quill. He also worked with Stewart in The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) and The FBI Story (1959).

The actor made dozens of TV guest appearances. In 1955, Hamilton guest-starred on the NBC legal drama Justice, based on case files of the Legal Aid Society of New York. Hamilton appeared in the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Deadly Double" (air date March 1, 1958) as the shadowy boyfriend of a woman with a split personality who is the sister of Perry Mason's client.

In 1957 he was a primary star on Gunsmoke, playing a conniving cowboy who sets up Chester for a murder rap as “Jake Buley” in the episode “Chester’s Murder” (S2E27). In 1959, he appeared in a few episodes of the crime drama The Untouchables, as well as co-starring in the second episode of Rod Serling's television series The Twilight Zone, "One for the Angels", playing Mr. Death opposite Ed Wynn. Also, Hamilton portrayed Calhoun, on (S4E9) of Gunsmoke, which aired in April, 1959. His character is swindled in a land deal along with other members of a wagon train & his wife tries to leave Calhoun with the swindler.

In the 1959-60 television season, Hamilton also co-starred with William Demarest, Jeanne Bal, and Stubby Kaye in the NBC sitcom Love and Marriage. He played attorney Steve Baker, who resides in an apartment with his wife (played by Bal), two daughters and a father-in-law (portrayed by Demarest). He soon appeared as a guest star on another sitcom, The Real McCoys, starring Walter Brennan, on ABC. In 1961, he appeared in another science fiction series, 'Way Out, hosted by Roald Dahl, with fellow guest stars Doris Roberts and Martin Huston. In 1986, he played Curtis "Big Daddy" Hollingsworth, Blanche Devereaux's father, in a first-season episode of The Golden Girls.

Hamilton complained in a newspaper article about being typecast, stating "After I was first cast as a heavy on The Untouchables, I couldn't ever persuade them [producers] that I could also do something else." While comic roles were rare for Hamilton during his Hollywood career, he had one opposite Andy Griffith in the 1958 military comedy No Time for Sergeants, as well as an appearance in Steven Spielberg's raucous comedy 1941, released in 1979. He also appeared in a comedic guest spot on Mama's Family in the second-season episode, "Mama Cries Uncle", as Uncle Roy. He was more often cast in dramatic works, such as the stark science-fiction drama Seconds (1966), which starred Rock Hudson. In two of his most distinctive performances, Hamilton appeared with Paul Newman in The Hustler (1961), playing Findley, a wealthy billiards player who gambles for high stakes, and with Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967) as Mr. Robinson, husband of the seductress Mrs. Robinson. In 1975, Hamilton appeared again with Newman in The Drowning Pool. He also worked with Robert Redford in a pair of films, The Way We Were (1973) and Brubaker (1980). In early 1982 he appeared as a judge presiding over an impromptu court case on an episode of Bret Maverick.

For many years both before and during his film career, Hamilton was a prominent dramatic stage actor, earning a Tony Award nomination for his role in the 1965 production of Absence of a Cello. New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson praised his work in the play Stockade, which was based on a part of the James Jones novel From Here to Eternity: "Murray Hamilton is an ideal Prewitt. Modest in manner, pleasant of voice, he has a steel-like spirit that brings Prewitt honestly to life." When the actor was suffering from cancer and found film roles harder to come by, his old co-star George C. Scott helped out by getting him a part in the made-for-television movie The Last Days of Patton (1986).


Hamilton died of lung cancer at age 63, and is interred at Oakdale Cemetery in his native Washington, North Carolina. He and his wife, Terri DeMarco Hamilton (of The DeMarco Sisters fame), had a son, David.


1944 Song of the Open Road as Crop Corps Kid (uncredited)

1944 Reckless Age as Member of Soldier Quartet

1944 Something for the Boys as Soldier (uncredited)

1951 Bright Victory as Pete Hamilton

1951 The Whistle at Eaton Falls as Al Webster

1956 Toward the Unknown as Major Bromo Lee

1956 The Girl He Left Behind as Sergeant Clyde

1957 The Spirit of St. Louis as Bud Gurney

1957 Jeanne Eagels as Chick O'Hara

1958 Darby's Rangers as Private / Sergeant Sims Delancey

1958 Too Much, Too Soon as Charlie Snow

1958 No Time for Sergeants as Irving S. Blanchard

1958 Houseboat as Captain Alan Wilson

1959 Anatomy of a Murder as Alphonse Paquette

1959 The FBI Story as Sam Crandall

1960 Tall Story as Coach Sandy Hardy

1960 Escape to Sonoita as Marsh

1961 The Hustler as Findley

1962 The Farmer's Daughter (TV movie) as Nordick

1963 Papa's Delicate Condition as Mr. Harvey

1963 13 Frightened Girls as Wally Sanders

1963 The Cardinal as Lafe

1965 Inherit the Wind (TV movie) as E.K. Hornbeck

1966 Seconds as Charlie

1966 An American Dream as Arthur Kabot 1966 The Fugitive "Cora Lee" Season 3, Episode 30 as Joe Steelman

1967 A Bell for Adano (TV movie) as Sergeant Leonard Borth

1967 The Graduate as Mr. Robinson

1968 Sergeant Ryker as Captain Appleton

1968 No Way to Treat a Lady as Inspector Haines

1968 The Boston Strangler as Detective Frank McAfee

1968 The Brotherhood as Jim Egan

1969 If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium as Fred Ferguson

1971 Vanished (TV movie) as Nick McCann

1971 Cannon (TV movie) as Virgil Holley

1971 A Tattered Web (TV movie) as Sergeant Joe Marcus

1971 The Police (TV movie) as Chief of Police

1971 The Harness (TV movie) as Roy Kern

1971 The Failing of Raymond (TV movie) as Sergeant Manzak

1972 Deadly Harvest (TV movie) as Sheriff Bill Jessup

1973 Incident on a Dark Street (TV movie) as Edmund Schilling

1973 Murdock's Gang (TV movie) as Harold Talbot

1973 The Way We Were as Brooks Carpenter

1974 After the Fall (TV movie) as Mickey

1975 Jaws as Mayor Larry Vaughn

1975 The Drowning Pool as Kilbourne

1977 Murder at the World Series (TV movie) as Harvey Murkison

1977 Damnation Alley as General Landers (uncredited)

1977 Killer on Board as Dr. Folger

1978 Casey's Shadow as Tom Patterson

1978 Jaws 2 as Mayor Larry Vaughn

1979 Donovan's Kid (TV movie) as Henry Carpenter

1979 A Last Cry for Help (TV movie) as Ralph Muir

1979 The Amityville Horror as Father Ryan

1979 1941 as Claude Crumn

1980 Swan Song (TV movie) as Jack McCauley

1980 Brubaker as John Deach

1981 All the Way Home (TV movie) as Joel Lynch

1981 B. J. and the Bear as Captain Rutherford T. Grant

1982 Mazes and Monsters (TV movie) as Lieutenant Martini

1983 Hysterical as The Mayor

1983 Summer Girl (TV movie) as Jack Reardon

1984 Boys in Blue (TV movie) as Captain Sid Bender

1984 Mama's Family as Uncle Roy Harper

1985 Too Scared to Scream as Jack

1986 The Last Days of Patton (TV movie) as General Hobart "Hap" Gay

1986 Blacke's Magic Episode: "Ten Tons of Trouble" - Ben McGuire

1986 The Golden Girls as Curtis "Big Daddy" Hollingsworth

1986 Whoops Apocalypse as Jack "Kill The Commies" Preston


External links

Murray Hamilton at IMDb

Murray Hamilton at the Internet Broadway Database

Murray Hamilton at the Internet Off-Broadway Database

Murray Hamilton at Find a Grave

Murray Hamilton Photos

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