James Neil Hamilton was born September 9, 1899 in Lynn,
MA. He was once a shirt model for magazine ads but soon became
interested in acting and joined several stock companies. He later
made his first film appearance in Vitagraph's "The Beloved
Imposter" in 1918. His big break came when D.W. Griffith
selected him for three of his films during the early twenties:
"The White Rose" (1923), "Isn't Life Wonderful"
(1924) and "America" (1924), all three with Griffith's
mistress at the time, Carol Dempster. Hamilton was signed by Paramount
Pictures in the mid-1920s appearing in two of their biggest production,
"Beau Geste" (1926) and "The Great Gatsby"
(1926), a lost film. He later worked for Fox, First National
(co-starring with Colleen Moore in her last silent, "Why
Be Good?" (1929)) and made an easy transition to sound.
In the early days of sound, he continued to appear in significant
roles in films such as "The Dawn Patrol" (1930), "Laughing
Sinners" (1931) with Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, "What
Price Hollywood?" (1932) with Constance Bennett, and Tarzan
the Ape Man (1932) and "Tarzan and His Mate" (1934)
with Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O'Sullivan. Although he never
regained the kind of star status he enjoyed in the 1920's, Hamilton
worked regularly in films, but soon found himself in serials and
low-budget productions by the 1940's. When television came along,
Hamilton hosted Hollywood Screen Test (1948-1953), co-starred
in the short-lived sitcom "That Wonderful Guy" with
Jack Lemmon (1949-1950), and did guest shots on numerous series
of the 1950s and '60s such as "Perry Mason," "77
Sunset Strip," "Maverick," "Mister Ed,"
"Bachelor Father," "Outer Limits" and more.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s Hamilton performed on Broadway
in several productions with stars such as Margaret Hamilton, Grace
Kelly, and Elizabeth Montgomery. He also continued to appear
in films and can be seen in three of Jerry Lewis' comedies. He
is remembered by many today for his role as Commissioner Gordon
the "Batman" series of the 1960's starring Adam West.
Hamilton was married to Elsa Whitmer from 1922 until his death
in September 1984. He was 85 when he died after suffering an
asthma attack. He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered into
the Pacific Ocean.
Selected films of this star available for viewing:
Isn't Life Wonderful? (1924)
The Love Trap (1929)
Be Good? (1929)
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