I had the great pleasure of knowing actress Lois F. Hamilton from about 1999 to 2005. Lois taught acting at the Senior Arts Center on Greenwich Avenue to fund The Acting Company of Greenwich. Despite her handicap - she could not walk - she was very energetic and loved to teach people how to perform.
Lois was born in Saginaw, Michigan, on September 8, 1927. She started at Northwestern University, but left to pursue her love of acting on Broadway. She landed bit parts and character actress roles. After six years on Broadway, she moved to Hollywood in 1955. The people she worked with reads like a "Who's Who": Gene Kelly, Mitzi Gaynor, Alan Ladd, Keenan Wynn, James Whitmore and Joey Bishop. She appeared in live commercials on the Bob Hope, Ernie Kovaks, Dinah Shore, Bob Cummings and Wally Cox shows. Lois used to race cars with Steve McQueen. At one time, she was engaged to Rod Steiger. In 1957, she married Christopher Hamilton, a television script writer. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack four years later.
Lois moved back east with her daughter, Melissa, and eventually settled in Greenwich. This is where she pursued her love of acting through community theater. She founded the Cameo Theater in 1975 and served as its artistic director until 1987. In 1990 she founded the Acting Company of Greenwich. Lois believed in presenting affordable professional-level theater for people who could not afford it or travel to New York theater. She was "chief cook and bottle washer", having to handle many of the tasks of community theater.
Lois Fern Hamilton (L) with Norma Mathis in 1998.
COURTESY: The Acting Company of Greenwich
She was nicknamed "Mother" by her students, who commented on how she doted over them. Lois was a great teacher. She taught people how to use their words and body language to express themselves. She stressed that actors must convince the audience that they are the characters they portray. Not only did she help them develop their craft, but she also brought the best qualities out of people.
Ms. Hamilton was involved in a near-death automobile accident in Bruce Park around 1983, which left her paralyzed. As a result, she helped found the Performers with Disabilities Task Force - a group which works to get handicapped actors hired by film, television and stage producers. Lois traveled to New York regularly to promote the welfare of the disabled.
Lois Fern Hamilton passed away in May 2005. She left behind a great legacy of helping people. Those who knew her are better off for it. She never let her celebrity get in the way. Many will remember her affectionately. "Mother" will be greatly missed.