Harry Hamlin Biography

Film Actor, Actor, Television Actor(1951–)
Actor Harry Hamlin starred in the television series L.A. Law as lawyer Michael Kuzak for five seasons and was voted People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 1987.

Synopsis

Born in California in 1951, actor Harry Hamlin got his big break when he was cast in the cult classic film Clash of the Titans (1981). His defining role, however, was that of lawyer Michael Kuzak in the television legal drama L.A. Law. Hamlin starred in the series for five seasons, starting in 1986.

Early Life

Actor. Harry Hamlin was born on October 30, 1951 in Pasadena, California, the son of Bernice Robinson Hamlin, a housewife, and Chauncey Jerome Hamlin, a rocket scientist. Hamlin describes his parents as relatively conservative, but with some quirks: when he was eleven years old, his father gave him a five-year subscription to Playboy for Christmas. He took a trip to New York City as a thirteen-year-old, saw the legendary Richard Burton in Hamlet and began dreaming of becoming an actor: "I said, 'That's the life I want! I want the big limousine, I want the beautiful girl, and I want the roses!'"

After graduating high school, Hamlin matriculated at the University of California at Berkeley intending to study architecture, but was so late signing up for classes that the only slots left open were in drama. Hamlin later transferred to Yale, graduating in 1974 with a dual bachelor's degree in psychology and drama. He then gave up a job as a PBS production assistant to study at the American Conservatory Theatre for two years, graduating in 1976 before starring in the lead role in Equus.

Film Career

Hamlin's first film role came in 1978's Movie, Movie, which also garnered him his first Golden Globe nomination. His big break came in the cult-classic action flick Clash of the Titans (1981), a role Hamlin took on partially to get the chance to work alongside Laurence Olivier. Clash of the Titans also proved important in Hamlin's personal life; the actor fathered a son with his partner and co-star Ursula Andress.

Hamlin followed up Clash of the Titans with 1982's Making Love, a then-groundbreaking look at gay relationships in Hollywood. The film was Hamlin's first box-office flop. "Hollywood wasn't ready for the movie," he said. "It was probably 10-15 years ahead of its time. I'm not sure it was helpful to my future film career."

In 1985, Hamlin married actress Laura Johnson. Their marriage ended in divorce four years later.

Television Fame

In 1986, Harry Hamlin took on the defining role of his career, as lawyer Michael Kuzak in the television legal drama L.A. Law. The role garnered Hamlin three successive Golden Globe nominations for Best Leading Actor on television. He was voted People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 1987. "In those days I was mortified," he said, "because I was a serious actor in my own mind, and then all of a sudden I'm this hunk. I fought against it, because I wanted to be thought of as someone who takes his work seriously. Being selected for something like that changes people's perceptions of you, even the perception of you within the industry. People will have an altered idea of who you are unless they really take time to get to know you, which of course they don't. They just get what they see, and they take that to the bank."

After L.A. Law ended, Hamlin continued to work in television. He was also briefly married to actress Nicollette Sheridan around this time. Hamlin appeared in countless television movies, including Her Deadly Rival (1995) and Badge of Betrayal (1997). In 1999, Hamlin made a brief return to series television with the comedy Movie Stars, playing a popular action film icon. He reunited with his L.A. Law colleagues for a television movie three years later. Soon after Hamlin won a recurring role on the teen detective series Veronica Mars.

In 2006, Hamlin showed television audiences another side of his personality as he took to the dance floor for Dancing With the Stars. He competed against talk show host Jerry Springer, actress Vivica A. Fox and former pro athlete Emmitt Smith. Four years later, Hamlin once again dabbled in reality television. He and his third wife, actress Lisa Rinna, shared their life together for the cameras in Harry Loves Lisa, which aired in 2010. Hamlin also found work on the popular drama Army Wives around this time. More recently, the veteran actor has made guest appearances on such shows as Franklin & Bash, Shameless and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Personal Life

Hamlin has shared many details from his life in his 2010 autobiography Full Frontal Nudity: The Making of an Accidental Actor. He and his wife Lisa have two daughters together.

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