Secrets From One Of Hollywood's Leading MenNovember 2014
By Donna Caruso
When veteran actor George Hamilton says, “Health is my passion,” he really means it. In an exclusive interview with Life Extension® Magazine, the 75-year-old star reveals his extensive and highly impressive knowledge regarding diet, supplements, exercise, longevity—and his strategy to live a natural life span of at least 120 years.
Hamilton’s Early Life And Career
It’s a pleasant surprise to discover that George Hamilton is nothing like his suntanned playboy image, although his life has included plenty of fun and laughs. Born in 1939 to well-known bandleader George “Spike” Hamilton and Anne Stevens, Hamilton spent his early years in the small town of Blytheville, Arkansas, attended school in Palm Beach, Florida, and has always considered himself to be a Southerner.
Hamilton’s extensive resume started in 1952 when he was 13. While many of his movies weren’t box office smashes, he has had his share of critical acclaim, beginning with the teenage classic Where The Boys Are (1960), which led to a Golden Globe Award as Most Promising Newcomer (male).
This was followed by Your Cheatin’ Heart in 1964, in which Hamilton portrayed country music legend Hank Williams (and which was linked to his very public relationship with President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughter Lynda Bird Johnson). In 1990, Hamilton was cast in the coveted role as the Corleone family lawyer in The Godfather, Part III. Hamilton’s box office successes, Love at First Bite (1979) and Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981), presented the star significant opportunities to display a notable talent for comedy.
Hamilton has worked with such prestigious directors as Vincente Minnelli and Louis Malle and had friendships with many Hollywood elite, including Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Brigitte Bardot, Judy Garland, and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Beginning in 1959 with an appearance on The Donna Reed Show, Hamilton’s long career in television continues to the present. In his 2008 book, Don’t Mind If I Do, he writes with great humor about coming in fifth place during his 2006 appearance in “Dancing With the Stars,” despite leg injuries that seriously hampered his mobility.
Theatrical appearances include several runs in the Broadway smash Chicago and a recent national tour of La Cage Aux Folles. He has also performed one-man shows and plans to tour in another in the near future, with performances in England and across the US.
Hamilton’s extensive resume is a tribute to his unusual energy, which he attributes to his constantly evolving health program.
A Passion For Health
At an age when most actors lack the energy and desire to continue working, Hamilton stands out as youthful, energetic, and eager to try new projects. He ascribes much of his zest for life to long-term healthy practices and a keen desire to learn everything he can about natural health and longevity.
“I grew up in a small Southern town where my grandfather was the town doctor,” he explains. “I was fascinated by him and even from a very young age, he would take me with him on house calls. I watched what he did and he also showed me the basics of how to assess someone’s health. He’d point out specific things to look for, such as puffiness under the eye or a thyroid band around the neck, that were quick clues to what was wrong. And then, without exception, after we left the patient, he would ask me ‘What do you think is wrong?’”
These diagnoses included social and psychological aspects, since doctors at that time were also therapists, which taught Hamilton that maintaining good health can be a very complex science.
As he grew up and began working in Hollywood, Hamilton was influenced by many well-known experts, including nutritionist and naturopathic physician Paavo Airola, nutritional experts Carlton Fredericks and Adelle Davis, Henry Bieler, MD, author of Food Is Your Best Medicine, Swiss physician and cellular therapy pioneer Paul Niehans, and Roy Walford, MD, an early advocate of caloric restriction (CR). Hamilton also learned much from fellow actors Gloria Swanson and Merle Oberon, both of whom were involved in innovative health therapies early on.
In his book, Hamilton writes, “Merle, like Gloria Swanson, was a health nut, and she got me interested in alternative medicine... It was Gloria who got me one step further, out into the twilight zone of longevity. No one treasured youth more than Gloria Swanson, whose Rolls-Royce was filled with health foods, vitamin supplements, and blenders that she was constantly buying.”
Hamilton meditates every day. “The minute you meditate,” he says, “you go back into homeostasis and can check yourself,” and see if you are agitated, angry, or in any other state of imbalance. Hamilton feels the benefits of meditation are both spiritual and physical, and allow him to achieve an awareness of what is going on in both body and mind.
When it comes to his health, Hamilton again refers to his grandfather’s words of wisdom: “In many cases, doctors administer things that are basically poisonous to the health. The body, when allowed to heal, will correct itself. If you have an offending substance, remove it and the body will heal itself.” Hamilton says he has tried to follow this advice by never allowing anything to get to the point where “the insult or offense to the body is irreversible.”
His health program is multilevel and complex, but there’s every sign it is working exceptionally well. His physical exercise includes regular half-hour walks and stretching exercises to prevent injuries, maintain balance, and keep ligaments, cartilage, and tendons from deteriorating—practices he recommends for everyone.
When it comes to diet, Hamilton has maintained his svelte appearance all his life by following healthy eating habits. He refers to CR advocate Roy Walford’s ideas, saying, “The only thing that we know that slows down aging is systematic under eating. It’s interesting that gluttony, and any excess, creates much more strain on the system and there’s more for the body to do. We’re not in sync with our appestat when we eat, and we don’t allow the body to catch up.” He adds that many people eat for emotional needs, but such habits can be changed.
“The worst offender is sugar,” Hamilton emphasizes. “Sugar is a terrible thing for us and getting rid of sugar is the single most important thing you can do.” He tries to eat as much as possible of greens, berries, fruits, and brightly colored vegetables, making a daily shake with such ingredients as kale, goji berries, almonds, bananas, and anything else he needs to ensure he’s getting the necessary vitamins and enzymes. Hamilton also eats a lot of fish, which he says “will regrow white and gray matter” in the nerves and brain. He uses only organic produce, citing problems with soil depletion, pesticides, and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), which we should all avoid.
Don’t Mind If I Do chronicles a life of heavy drinking and all-night parties, but today Hamilton has very different ideas. “I don’t think drinking is good,” he explains. “It’s a form of poison, a nerve toxin, and I had to learn to change my ways. The latest research shows alcohol is damaging to the brain. I looked at it and realized I’ve had all I need.”
Hamilton’s list of supplements is very long, including some taken daily and others as needed when there is a specific problem that needs short-term treatment. His regular supplements include vitamins E, C, A, D, B12, B6, B complex with minerals, rutin, folic acid, selenium, zinc, TMG, CoQ10, fish oil, flaxseed, and melatonin.
While he recognizes the importance of all the supplements on his list, Hamilton feels that “the most important vitamin is vitamin E, especially for the elderly,” citing its positive effects on circulation, clot prevention, and neutralizing free radicals.
Keeping up with the latest research is another passion for Hamilton. He credits Life Extension® Magazine for its enormous contributions in this area.
Hamilton is also a devoted advocate of fasting. “I stop everything four times a year, and I’ve gone from three to nine days on a form of fast,” he explains. He believes it is a way to get rid of toxins that have built up inside the body.
Keeping the liver clean is also important to Hamilton. “The liver is such an important organ,” he says, crediting Dr. Bieler, who advised such things as alkaline juices, string beans, and zucchini for cleansing. “Let that liver have nothing to clean or work on—you work on the liver. When you do that, it’s amazing how problems, such as bad headaches, resolve.” Cleansing the liver, he adds, gives you a sense of euphoria and can even help longtime alcoholics.
Hamilton also cleanses his colon four times a year by detoxing with herbs. “I try to keep myself as squeaky clean as I can,” he explains. He adds that most people eat the same foods day after day and may be seriously lacking in nutrients. “They are basically gaining weight and starving to death at the same time,” he says, but due to habit and lack of knowledge, most people continue these practices for a lifetime. And even when they gain some knowledge, he states, “it’s very hard to get off this system that we have, which is all done for profit.”
It’s also vital to keep the brain active, and here Hamilton recommends such methods as solving daily crossword puzzles and doing new things you are not used to. “I’m studying Spanish right now,” he explains, “and I also make it my habit every morning when I wake up to get out on the other side of the bed. If I usually brush my teeth first, instead I take my shower first. I do my rituals backwards and forwards.” Hamilton emphasizes that it’s urgent to not only keep your brain alert, but to develop and nurture a sense of humor, which he demonstrated with hearty laughter throughout the interview. “The first sign of a declining brain,” he notes, “is when there’s no humor.”
Another key factor is sleep. “I try to get seven to eight hours sleep each night,” he says, “which is essential. I believe it’s anticancer and anti-Alzheimer’s.” Hamilton mentions that regular use of melatonin from Life Extension® helps him attain uninterrupted sleep each night.
A Story Of Healing
Although it’s not widely known, Hamilton lost the hearing in his left ear as a result of childhood measles, (even though his grandfather gave him penicillin). At 40, Hamilton was informed by a traditional doctor that he had damaged his auditory nerve and would not hear in that ear again.
Hamilton’s good friend Gloria Swanson advised him to go to Switzerland and see Dr. Niehans, who administered 11 syringes of an early form of organ-specific stem cells. A month later, his hearing improved and today, Hamilton has 95% hearing in this ear.
Hamilton mentions that when he was at Dr. Niehans’ cellular therapy clinic, a number of well-known people were also being treated, adding strength to his belief that alternative medicine, in the right hands, may often work where traditional medicine fails.
Recent And Current Projects
In 1971, Hamilton starred in a film about daredevil Evel Knievel and is now one of the producers of a documentary about him. Currently preparing his upcoming one-man show, Hamilton looks forward to traveling in Europe and throughout the US performing it.
Continuing offers keep coming in for Hamilton to star in various reality shows or situation comedies, and he carefully considers all of them. It’s likely he may soon be on the small screen with a new series.
“I’m at an age where if I don’t want to work, I don’t work,” explains Hamilton. “I will work at the things that excite me, but you also have to spark these things yourself. You can’t wait for someone else to call you.”
But Hamilton’s main focus at the moment is on two films, one a documentary and the other a fictionalized version of the life of his close friend Sean Flynn, son of swashbuckling film star Errol Flynn. Sean Flynn was a photojournalist who disappeared in Cambodia in 1970 during the Vietnam War. A known daredevil and legendary character of the time, Flynn’s body was never found, but many people who knew him have never forgotten his charismatic personality and willingness to risk his life to get a story and photos, especially in dangerous situations.
What Makes Life Worthwhile
As a lifelong student of health, Hamilton notes, “I feel like I’m a doctor in that I’m always researching. I read so much on health and medicine that many friends call to ask me to help them find the best doctors in the world or doctors who might help them with specific conditions. I feel like it’s my calling [and] that I would have been a doctor if I hadn’t become an actor.
“My advice is to find a practitioner who knows and can diagnose your deficiencies and start balancing everything out. We’re not meant to die at 100; we’re meant to die at 120, so there’s no reason not to extend [life], no reason as long as you stay healthy.”
He adds, “My life has been blessed.”
At the age of 75, Hamilton loves spending time with his two sons, Ashley, 38, from his marriage to Alana Collins, and George Thomas, 14, from a relationship with Kimberly Blackford. When it comes to assessing his life so far, nothing seems to give him more joy.
“I may win by default,” jokes Hamilton.“There may not be any other actors around and I may get the role. Most of the guys I know flame out around this period or earlier. They don’t look good, they don’t feel good, and they close up shop. But I listen to myself and do physically what I know is necessary to make everything work.
“My life is wonderful,” he says in conclusion. “I’m really delighted.”
George Hamilton’s long career began in 1952 when he was only 13 years old and continues today. Noteworthy films include Where the Boys Are, Love Bites, and The Godfather, Part III. He has two new projects in the pipeline, a documentary and a fictionalized version of the life of his close friend Sean Flynn, son of swashbuckling film star Errol Flynn. A lifelong student of health, the 75-year-old star takes numerous supplements, believes in caloric restriction and meditation, and plans to live to the age of 120.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.