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Beloved Actor George Maharis Dies at 94 After 60-Year Battle With Hepatitis

The revered actor George Maharis, recognized principally for his portrayal of Buz Murdock in the acclaimed TV series Route 66, succumbed to a six-decade-long fight with hepatitis on May 24, although some initial reports indicated the date as May 25. Maharis, who never married or had children, is survived by a sibling pair​1

George’s demise on May 25 was mourned by many, including his dear friend and long-time caregiver, Marc Bahan. Bahan lauded Maharis for his immense contributions to Route 66, stage productions, and the music industry, painting him as a kind soul who’d go out of his way to help others​1​.

Maharis’ acting journey began in 1953, with him making appearances in an array of films, sitcoms, and TV series over the subsequent seven years. His breakthrough came with the 1959 show Naked City, which led to him being cast in its spin-off, Route 66, the next year. He starred in this show’s initial three seasons before departing in 1963​1​.

In 1962, Maharis was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Series. During this period, he also began to create and perform some of his most well-received music​1​.

Late in 1962, Maharis was diagnosed with hepatitis. He attempted to return to Route 66, but the demanding work schedule proved too strenuous. His physician warned him of grave consequences, including potential permanent liver damage or death if he didn’t step back​1​.

After a nearly two-year recovery period, Maharis made a triumphant return to cinema in 1964 with Quick, Before It Melts. He went on to grace the big screen, TV series, and sitcoms for the following three decades, culminating his career with a role as Mike Wallace in Doppelganger (1993)​1​.

Maharis’ portfolio also boasts notable projects such as Sylvia (1965), A Covenant with Death (1967), The Happening (1967), The Desperados (1969), The Most Deadly Game (1970-71), and Fantasy Island (1979-82). His popular music tracks include ‘Teach Me Tonight,’ ‘After the Lights Go Down Low,’ and ‘They Knew About You’​1​.

Maharis’ influence during the 1960s was profound, as exemplified by his starring role in one of the most popular shows of the early-60s and his hit song ‘Teach Me Tonight,’ which peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard charts in 1962. As one fan nostalgically shared, Maharis was a dominant figure whose face and voice were ubiquitous during this era​1​.

Fans have been sharing their admiration for the actor, with one stating: “I had a huge crush on George when I was a teen and he was on Route 66. I read all the magazine articles on him. I recently bought the entire first season of Route 66 VHS. I might get it changed to a DVD. I still have one of his albums.” Such statements indicate the enduring impact Maharis had on his fans, even after his Route 66 tenure​1​.

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