Just this morning, a Tattler reader informed me that the photographs of Tony Hamilton originally posted with an article I penned on him a couple of years ago, vanished from the website. Curiously, the publicity still of Jon Eric Hexam did not. Strange!
Subsequently, I am reposting this article today for readers to enjoy as it was originally published.
One day, a casting director gave me a shout and asked if I would mind doubling for an actor for an independent feature titled "Mirrors".
In those days, I was a bit of a workaholic and always in need of ready cash, so I jotted down the location address and dashed out the door full of vim and vigor.
As I was signing in with the assistant director, a breathtakingly handsome actor appeared at my right and strode confidently across the sound stage towards us.
"Tony, this is Julian. He'll be your double today."
We subtly sized each other up, then settled in for the task at hand.
Although location shoots may be adrenalin-boosting on occasion, this shoot proved to be somewhat draining; so, when I was wrapped early in the evening I was out the door before the ink was barely dry on my pay voucher.
Tony was still on the set rehearsing for the martini shot.
Shortly after that gig, I occasionally bumped into Tony (Hamilton) after hours on the night-club party circuit in West Hollywood.
He cut a fine swath around town, in his black 450SL Mercedes Benz convertible, as he hotly pursued his career (and addiction to sex) with lusty carefree abandon.
Hamilton was born in Liverpool and grew up on a sheep farm in Australia.
Fate appeared to nudge him into the dance arena - in part due to the fact - a significant portion of the curriculum at the schools he attended (Scotch College & Adelaide) was focused on Ballet.
In fact, The Australian Ballet Company welcomed him into their fold after his formal training was complete and auditions established that he had not only a dramatic flair, but was blessed with a unique talent for dance.
During one performance in 1972, a fashion photographer noticed how photogenic he was, and offered him a career opportunity in modelling.
Tony quickly booked assignments in America, Europe, and Asia.
Richard Avedon bowed at his feet.
And, he was a favorite of Bruce Weber, a top photographer of the day/
You may have spied Hamilton gracing the pages of Vogue and GQ during his golden years, delivering up delicious fashion statements by the likes of visionary superstars such as designer Gianni Versace.
I was driving in hectic rush-hour traffic one day when there was a news flash on the radio.
According to the News Anchor, Jon Erik Hexum - a co-star on the popular action-adventure TV series "Cover-Up" - was toying with a prop on the set and shot himself accidentally in the head.
Hexum is pictured at the right.
The wound proved to be fatal.
In the wake of the tragedy, Tony was plucked from relative obscurity to step into Hexum's role.
Suddenly, Hamilton was thrust into the spotlight - and as a result - his star rose quickly.
Tony was particularly well-known for his perfect pecs, startlingly handsome face, and a steady gaze that could melt the hardest of hearts.
What a hunk!
As it turned out, Tony worked out at the same gym as I did, the Athletic Club.
The privatelly-owned hang-out for serious body-builders was a hop-and-a-skip down the street from the infamous Sports Erection - excuse me - Sports Connection.
One day, I dashed into the change room, tore off my clothes, and started to head for the showers.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spied Tony standing in the shadows, packing up his gym bag.
What a shock!
In the half-light, I noticed right away that Tony's face had a gaunt-like appearance, and that his body appeared to be startlingly thin.
I tried to conceal my first thought, but judging from Tony's all-knowing glance, he knew right away that I was clued in.
The tell-tale physical signs indicated he was obviously in advanced stages of the disease.
My heart sank!
Within a few weeks, the rumor-mill started up.
Within a short span of time, industry-insiders were keenly aware of his troubling medical problem.
Unfortunately, in those days - the 3-drug combo known as the "cocktail" which is used today to effectively combat the disease (and keep it at bay) - had not been developed by A.I.D.S. researchers yet.
When the word got out, casting directors stopped calling him for interviews - and producers and studio executives who once sang his praises - shunned him.
The news of the A.I.D.S. epidemic was just breaking in the media around the country and the hysteria had risen to a fever pitch.
Loved ones - even nurses and health-care professionals - were afraid to touch an A.I.D.S. patient for fear of catching the dreaded killer virus themselves.
The ignorance running rampant was astounding!
Sadly, Tony passed to spirit in 1995, after a bout of A.I.D.S. related pneumonia.
This evening when I was researching a few facts about his childhood years, I was quite taken aback to learn that Tony and I were both born the same year (1952).
Astoundingly, his birthday was May 4th, two days earlier than my own on May 6th.
I'll always remember two things about Tony.
His stunning masculine beauty and his gentle loving spirit.
Who could ask for anything more?