Biography

Born and educated in Pennsylvania, John Hamilton headed to New York in his twenties to launch a 25-year stage career. Ideally cast as businessmen and officials, the silver-haired Hamilton worked opposite such luminaries as George M. Cohan and Ann Harding. He toured in the original company of the long-running Frank Bacon vehicle Lightnin', and also figured prominently in the original New York productions of Seventh Heaven and Broadway. He made his film bow in 1930, costarring with Donald Meek in a series of 2-reel S.S.Van Dyne whodunits (The Skull Mystery, The Wall St. Mystery) filmed at Vitaphone's Brooklyn studios. Vitaphone's parent company, Warner Bros., brought Hamilton to Hollywood in 1936, where he spent the next twenty years playing bits and supporting roles as police chiefs, judges, senators, generals and other authority figures. Humphrey Bogart fans will remember Hamilton as the clipped-speech DA in The Maltese Falcon (1941), while Jimmy Cagney devotees will recall Hamilton as the recruiting officer who inspires George M. Cohan (Cagney) to compose "Over There" in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Continuing to accept small roles in films until the mid '50s (he was the justice of the peace who marries Marlon Brando to Teresa Wright in 1950's The Men), Hamilton also supplemented his income with a group of advertisements for an eyeglasses firm. John Hamilton is best known to TV-addicted baby boomers for his six-year stint as blustering editor Perry "Great Caesar's Ghost!" White on the Adventures of Superman series. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi