No Longer Trying to Reach the Moon
[Kim Hamilton was the only African-American actress to appear in an episode of Leave It To Beaver. . See "Who is Kim Hamilton" for a complete description]
Kim Hamilton is finding other goals well within her reach.
On a smog-free day actress Kim Hamilton can sit perched in her tiny eyrie high above Laurel Canyon in Hollywood and look out over the whole sprawling city of Los Angeles.
"I like to be up high," she says. "Thatís why I learned to fly - so I could flay a missile to the moon when the time came. Iíve given up the moon, but my first solo flight in a plane, when I was up there by myself, was the freest moment Iíve ever known."
She learned to fly from her father, who is a flight instructor, and she may have inherited an inclination toward the theater from he mother, who was a show girl before she left the stage and had 10 children.
In less than a decade as a professional, Kim Hamilton has appeared in half a dozen motion pictures, more than a dozen plays and most of the top television programs, notably in recent Ben Casey, where she played a schizophrenic who lost her baby.
Miss Hamilton was born and raised in Los Angeles, was married at 14 and divorced at 19. She has two children, a body and a girl. Her son died of spinal meningitis when he was two years old. "I was in the hospital for five months after that with was we thought was a heart condition. It turned out to be all psychosomatic," she says. "That was the experience I drew on for the part in Ben Casey."
She is particularly proud that the part was not written with a Negro performer in mind and that she hot it after competing with other talented actresses, white and Negro. Leo Penn, who directed the Ben Casey episode, says, "She is marvelous performer - tremendously sensitive."
Miss Hamilton wanted to be a lawyer before she decided before she wanted to become an actress. Last year, when her former press agent took her to court over $75 they say she owed them, she showed what sort of lawyer she would have made. "My own lawyer said I didnít have a chance," she says. "But I decided to use my experience as an actress and improved." She studied a couple of law books, went to court without a lawyer, talked for three hours, and won the case.
Miss Hamilton began studying acting at Los Angeles City College. "But I got bored with it," she says. "We never did anything - it was all in books." She left after one semester and enrolled in acting school. She says, "I was there almost a year. All the other girls got cards from agents and casting directors, but I never did. I was ready to give up. Then I played the part of a silly secretary and got three cards."
One of the cards led to her first professional role, as Andyís girl friend in Amos Ďní Andy. She disagrees with criticism which has been leveled at this program. "The characters were not stereotypes," she says. "They shows real wisdom." And she adds, "The show gave a lot of Negroes work."
Today she is pleased at growing trend to cast Negroes as people, not just as Negroes. She says, "A while ago I was in the serial Clear Horizons as an airmanís wife and looked absolutely groovy."
Her 11 year old daughter, Tanya, as tall and pretty as her mother, has already had acting offers, but Miss Hamilton says, "I want her to get an education first and then decide what she wants to do. I agree with Kahlil Giran about children." Then she quotes his lines in her soft voice: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Lifeís longing for itself. They come through you but not from you.
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