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Murray Hamilton
Born March 24, 1923(1923-03-24)
Washington, North Carolina, U.S.
Died September 1, 1986 (aged 63)
Washington, North Carolina, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1944–1986

Murray Hamilton (March 24, 1923 – September 1, 1986) was an American stage, screen, and television actor who appeared in such memorable films as The Hustler, The Graduate and Jaws.

Early life

Born in Washington in Beaufort County in eastern North Carolina, Hamilton displayed an early interest in performing during his days at Washington High School just before the outbreak of 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.

Notable roles

In an early role, he performed on stage with Henry Fonda in the classic wartime story Mister Roberts. In 1960, he was seen onstage again with Fonda in Critic's Choice and was teamed once more with Fonda in 1968 for the gripping film drama The Boston Strangler.

During the 1959-1960 television season, Hamilton co-starred with William Demarest, Jeanne Bal, and Stubby Kaye in the NBC sitcom Love and Marriage. He played attorney Steve Baker, who lived in an apartment with his wife (played by Bal), two daughters and father-in-law (portrayed by Demarest). The wife and her father worked for a failing music publishing company.

His most famous film performance is perhaps as the obdurate Amity Island Mayor Larry Vaughn in the Steven Spielberg shark thriller Jaws. Hamilton also appeared in its sequel Jaws 2 and was signed on to reprise the role of Mayor Vaughn in a cameo for Jaws: The Revenge, but died before filming began.

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 from Thunder Bay, Michigan who gives testimony in the murder of Barney Quill. He worked again with Stewart in The FBI Story (1959) and The Spirit of St. Louis (1957).

That same year, Hamilton made a memorable appearance on Rod Serling's television series The Twilight Zone, starring in the episode "One for the Angels," playing Death.

Hamilton appeared in a Perry Mason TV series episode "The Case of the Deadly Double" (air date March 1, 1958) as the shadowy boyfriend of a woman with a split personality whose brother was Mason's client on trial. It was one of dozens of TV guest appearances for the actor, whose much-later ones included the role of Big Daddy Hollingsworth, Blanche Deveraux's father, in a first season episode of The Golden Girls.

While comic roles were sometimes hard to come by, the actor's early Hollywood career included a very funny one opposite Andy Griffith in the 1958 military comedy No Time for Sergeants. 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 in The Hustler (1961), playing Findley, a wealthy billiards player who gambles for high stakes, and in The Graduate (1967) as Mr. Robinson, husband of Anne Bancroft's Mrs. Robinson.

In 1975, Hamilton starred again with Paul Newman in The Drowning Pool. He also worked with Robert Redford in a pair of films, 1973's The Way We Were and the 1980 prison drama Brubaker.

For many years both before and during his film career, Hamilton was a prominent dramatic actor, earning a Tony Award nomination for his role in the 1965 production of Absence of a Cello.

His death was caused by cancer. He is interred at Oakdale Cemetery in Washington, North Carolina.

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