March 20, 2023

Lavish Lizard

Once Upon A Time In Old Hollywood

A Few Promising Stars That Fizzled Fast

4 min read

George Hamilton, Richard Davalos, and John Derek. George Hamilton had a long career, more as a B actor by the mid 60’s and into the 1970’s; but came up hot as a real promising new comer with some roles in the early 60’s that should have sent his career into orbit. The film Act One the Story about Moss Hart. Which should have garnered him more serious dramatic roles during the swinging 60’s.

Richard Davalos was given a hand out role in Cool Hand Luke

Richard Davalos should have for sure had one of the biggest starts. He had the plum role opposite James Dean in East Of Eden. This actor appeared in some very forgettable films right after, with a ton of live TV things like The Kraft Theater Star Tonight, The United States Steel Hour and Matinee Theater just to name a few. Richard Davalos career pretty much went no where after East Of Eden, and then about 12 years later he turns up in Paul Newman’s 1967 Cool Hand Luke with a few lines, and a little screen time.

John Derek’s break through Star role was Knock On Any Door

John Derek’s claim to fame was pretty much his marriage to Bo Derek. This actor was long washed up. When John and Bo hooked up. He was a major acting prospect on the mid 1940’s, beginning his career working with some real old Hollywood legends like Humphrey Bogart in 1949’s Knock On Any Door. This was Derek’s big break out role, and it was a decent hit.

However John Derek was not William Holden, Montgomery Clift nor Marlon Brando. It was extremely hard for guys like Derek to get the roles these heavy weights were being offered. Such as Sunset Boulevard, A Place In The Sun, From Here To Eternity or A Street Car Named Desire.

Davalos and James Dean East Of Eden

After 1951’s Saturdays Hero for Derek. Which was pretty good. I saw this for the first time on late night TV in Lakehurst NJ maybe on WPIX 11; All of John Derek’s other roles went very south with largely forgettable. The Family Secret, The Last Posse, Sea Of Lost Ships, and other duds like Mission Over Korea, and The Outcast. Then 1956 The Ten Commandments came a long great film, but he was buried deep with in a huge ensemble cast with lots of stars, from Edward G Robinson, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Yvonne DeCarlo and so many more. So it was difficult for him to stand out since he wasn’t the star.

John Derek had 11 directorial efforts all non existent films, and a 40 acting credit to his career. Sadly Derek who had such a promising career crashed and burned very quickly, but not as bad as Davalos. George Hamilton had a long career, and is the only actor out of these three who is still with us. He found new fame as Colonel Sanders in the KFC commercials.

George Hamilton
George Hamilton

Love At First Bite, Via Knievel, Zoro The Gay Blade, and a supporting role in Burt Reynold’s The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. These films kept Hamilton current, and with a decent pay check, but a guy with his good looks. George Hamilton was not getting 3 Days Of The Condor, The Conversation, or a roles in Jaws. He wasn’t starring in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

George Hamilton was stepped over through out the 70’s

You didn’t see George Hamilton being cast in Nashville, The Last Picture Show. I think George Hamilton is a fine actor with extreme limitations. He could have been in Deliverance, maybe a supporting role in The French Connection. The Hollywood world is a sometime ugly and hard world. Their are a lot of actors and actresses who have fallen into similar fates.

I will be writing articles on other performers. The studio system in the 1950’s still pretty much owned it’s stars, and it was hard to move on from a specific stuio unless you had some major clout era. These three actors George Hamilton John Derek, and Richard D These guy were in a tough field out of the gate with a combo of old Hollywood.

They were competing against Spencer Tracey, James Cagney, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Steward, Clark Gable, Tyrone Power, and Humphrey Bogart. Then the new from the actors studio method actors. We have Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and the very hot at the time Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson and Kirk Douglas. I personally can’t imagine being a male actor around this time when It was still old Hollywood.

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