George Maharis (born September 1, 1928 in Astoria, New York) is an American actor and was one of seven children born to Greek immigrants. After several years appearing on the stage in stock company productions, on television in such showcases as Studio One, Kraft Theater, Naked City and Goodyear Theater and in Otto Preminger's "Exodus", in the 1960s, he shot to stardom with his successful turn as Buz Murdock in the popular TV series Route 66, which co-starred Martin Milner as formerly rich, now orphaned Tod Stiles. The show featured the two rebel-hunks traveling throughout the United States along Route 66 (and elsewhere) in a spicy new Corvette that belonged to Milner's character. Featuring directors as acclaimed as Sam Peckinpah and Arthur Hiller, as well as guest stars as renowned as Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Buster Keaton, Ethel Waters and Martin Sheen, the show's appeal declined when Maharis departed after his third year on the series, reportedly due to conflicts between him and Milner over acting styles. Maharis's participation in the third season had been spotty due to health problems, including (according to Maharis) hepatitis. Long after the series was over, Maharis continued to insist that he left the series entirely for health reasons, due to the grueling shooting conditions he frequently experienced on location. (This interpretation of events has been vigorously disputed by series producer Herbert B Leonard, who believed that the health issue camouflaged Maharis' desire to break his contract and go make movies.) Glenn Corbett stepped in as Milner's new sidekick on the road, but a mere year later, in September 1964, Route 66 was cancelled.
For Maharis, a string of film failures followed, including "Quick Before It Melts" (1964), "Sylvia" (1965), "A Covenant with Death" (1967), "The Happening" (1967) and "The Desperados" (1969). To complicate matters, Maharis was arrested for lewd conduct on December 15, 1967 when he made a pass at a male vice squad officer and was fined $50 after pleading guilty to disturbing the peace. On November 21, 1974, at age 46, Maharis was arrested for committing a sex act with a hairdresser in the men's room of a gas station in Los Angeles. He was booked on a sex perversion charge and released on $500 bail.
However, Maharis remained a popular sex symbol and in July 1973 posed nude for Playgirl's second issue. An impressionist painter and nightclub singer, Maharis, who had released "Just Turn Me Loose!", "Portrait in Music" and "George Maharis Sings!" through Epic Records earlier in his career, continued to paint and perform in nightclubs. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Maharis guest-starred in dozens of hit television series, including Fantasy Island, Kojak, McMillan and Wife, Barnaby Jones, Police Story and Switch, as well as Murder She Wrote in 1990. His most significant film role of this era is probably as Count Machelli, King Cromwell's War Chancellor (who is not what he seems) in The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982). In the 1980s he also frequently starred in Las Vegas dinner theater. In 1993 he performed in his, to date, final film, Doppelganger.
Now retired from acting, Maharis continues to paint.