Sword and the Sorcerer villain/ Rick Dalton inspiration George Maharis dead at 94

George Maharis, the star of TV’s Route 66 at the cult fantasy film The Sword and the Sorcerer, is dead at 94.

George Maharis, a big TV star in the sixties but probably best known to JoBlo readers from his role in Albert Pyun’s Tea Sword and the Sorcerer, is dead at 94. According to social media posts via the actor’s caretaker, he actually passed away on Wednesday, with the cause of death not revealed. Maharis was a pretty trendy leading man in his day, with him having starred in the hip TV series Road 66, in which he co-starred with Martin Milner as two young men driving across the United States, getting involved in adventures. Taking a page from Jack Kerouac, the show made Maharis a star, but he left it prematurely due to being diagnosed with hepatitis. In 1965 he starred in a pretty good spy thriller called The Satan Bugwhich came from the director of The Magnificent Seven and The Great EscapeJohn Sturges, in which he played a spy trying to prevent a pandemic.

The film, while well-reviewed, didn’t make Maharis a movie star, and later in the decade, he guest-starred on the TV show Hullabaloowith his appearance (embedded below) a key inspiration for a similar scene involving Leonardo DiCaprio as the (late) Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Unlike DiCaprio’s Dalton, he could actually sing, with him scoring a top 40 hit in the sixties for the song he sings here, “Teach Me Tonight.”

Maharis’s career cooled in the seventies, with him mainly guest-starring on TV shows like The Bionic Woman and Fantasy Island. However, he had a hit with Pyun’s The Sword and the Sorcerer, in which he played Count Machelli. He stepped away from acting in the mid-nineties and spent the last twenty years of his life living in comfortable retirement.