By Nathan Mayberg
JEFFERSONVILLE December 28, 2004 Richard Hamilton, a character actor who worked with some of the greatest names in show business through film, radio, and television for over over 50 years, died recently at his Jeffersonville home. He was 84.
The actor was perhaps best known to modern moviegoers for his memorable role as Agent D, the first partner of Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) in Men in Black (1997).
In that movie, Hamilton played a government agent whose job is to track down aliens. The movie was a comedy/action thriller and a financial blockbuster.
It was not a coincidence that Hamilton earned his stripes in the same genre back in the 1950s, when he worked on over 70 shows of X Minus One, a popular science fiction radio program which ran from 1955 to 1958. It was considered the forefather of The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone.
One of the shows programs was called The Embassy, where the story for Men in Black may have originated. Several of the shows stories were written by legendary novelist Ray Bradbury. The series holds the record for the longest-running science fiction radio show ever produced.
Other notable performances by Hamilton included a leading role as a pop artist in Greetings, Robert DeNiros first movie. That film also gave a jumpstart to the career of director Brian DePalma.
Over the years, Hamilton worked with such screen giants as Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Donald Sutherland, Tim Robbins, Kevin Costner, John Cusack, Bruce Willis, and in his last film, Death to Smoochy (2002) Robin Williams and Danny DeVito.
His wife of 50 years, Marilyn Morgan Hamilton, said that her husband enjoyed the process of working on the movie sets. She specifically remembered him speaking highly of Eastwood, who also directed him, and Meryl Streep, whom he acted with twice.
She also recalled that he respected director Mike Nichols, who directed him in Silkwood.
Among Hamiltons other screen credits were Ironweed in which Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep were nominated for Oscars Pale Rider, Arthur, and Resurrection.
But it was the stage where Hamiltons talents were best noted. He made his New York stage debut with Edna Best in "First Lady" at City Center in 1952.
Among his most famous shows were "Old Dodge," and the Pulitzer Prize-winning production of Sam Shepard's "Buried Child." He played Carl in the 1982 Tony Award-winning revival of "Morning's at Seven."
Hamilton developed many relationships with his fellow showmen, said his wife, including director Robert Woodruff and Mary McDonald, who worked with him on Buried Child.
He also worked on many radio soap operas in the 1940s. His filmography includes a long list of television movies and appearances on such shows as Law & Order and Frasier.
Hamilton was born in Illinois but grew up in California. He attended Passedinia Junior College and the Playhouse.
He met his wife in Greenwich Village in New York City at her birthday party. His varied jobs included work in a shipyard. He tried to but did not enter the military service due to a heart murmur.
He and his wife bought a farm in Jeffersonville in 1964, spending summers there initially but more and more time over the years. Mrs. Hamilton said that he enjoyed turning the barn into a house.
He was a devotee of old silent film comedians, such as Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin, said Hamilton and her son Morgan.
He had quite a collection of the old films, she said. He also enjoyed playing puzzles and cribbage.
He was remembered as a devoted, caring and generous husband and father of his daughter Hani Dzubas and his son Morgan.
When asked what was his most distinguishing characteristic, however, his wife responded, His enjoyment of other people.
Hamilton will be cremated, and a memorial service will be held at the Players Club, a club for actors, in Gramercy Park, New York City, where he was a member.