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  • Get The Latest Gossip With “The Diva” Andrea Simakis

    [caption id="attachment_4593" align="alignleft" width="158" caption=""The Diva" Andrea Simakis"]Simakis[/caption]

    "The Diva" Andrea Simakis is back with her latest story on George Hamilton, in her article George Hamilton, starring in 'La Cage aux Folles,' has had the last laugh in a 50-year career that proves he's more than a tan:

    It seems fitting that George Hamilton is the master of ceremonies in "La Cage aux Folles," a raucous, big-hearted fable with a spirit that mirrors his sun-kissed life.

    The Tony Award-winning musical follows the trials of Georges, the owner of a drag nightclub in Saint-Tropez. Hamilton is donning top hat and tails to play the debonair showman in the national tour of the Broadway revival, opening at the Palace Theatre Tuesday.

    Georges spends his days managing his popular boite and the moods of its star, Albin, a drama queen who packs the house as Zaza and shares Georges' bed. When Georges' son comes home for a visit and begs his father to shove Albin in the closet to mollify the ultraconservative parents of his fiancee, sequins and feather boas fly.

    Hamilton, taking time to chat from Albany, N.Y., before a sound check last week, says it was the meaning of the show, hidden under all those wigs and padded brassieres, that drew him to the project.

    The story celebrates family, no matter how unorthodox, something Hamilton has done all his life, first in his tequila-a-go-go memoir, the frothy but essential "Don't Mind If I Do," and later in "My One and Only," a fictionalized big-screen version of a bizarre road trip he and his two brothers took with their mother, "Teeny," irresistible Southern belle Anne Stevens, across America in 1955.

    In real life, the itinerant foursome mapped their journey based on the locations of Teeny's old flames, making a stop in Columbus, Ohio, where she sniffed that a former golden boy had "let himself go" -- "one of Teeny's most frequently invoked dismissals," Hamilton writes in "Don't Mind If I Do."

    To streamline the hunt, Hamilton's flamboyant half brother, Bill -- whose early penchant for wearing his mother's clothes would have no doubt landed him a gig at Georges' club -- "tried to convince Teeny to tell her candidates to stand on the porch while we did a drive-by, but only if they had hair and teeth."

    Another reason Hamilton was drawn to the cross-dressing comedy? "It's about believing in yourself, about being who you are," he says. "Whatever that may be." No need to apologize.

    Clearly, Hamilton, who has survived more than five decades in show business, is comfortable in his own nut-brown skin.

    His longevity has confounded both critics and talent scouts alike. A report to a studio boss in 1958 rated the 19-year-old from Arkansas as "certainly handsome enough to be a motion picture actor," but described his ability to act as "marginal." "In summary," the scout wrote, "there is something there but I don't know what."

    The "what" famously became the tan, the teeth and a stubborn talent for reinvention. His gift for remaining in the spotlight decade after decade is one he shares with his pale, tuxedoed Count Vladimir Dracula, the hero of the 1979 horror spoof "Love at First Bite," an unheralded precursor to the "Scream" and "Scary Movie" franchises.

    Read more at The Plain Dealer

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