Was George Maharis gay? All we know

George Maharis

George Maharis spent his retirement painting in his houses in Beverly Hills. Having accrued over 70 television and film credits, Maharis secluded himself from the public. The Route 66 star, 94, died in his Beverly Hills home in late May 2023 after contracting hepatitis. Maharis was an enigma who preferred to hide the intimate details about his private life, including his sexuality. 

George Maharis’ biographer, Karen Blocher, claimed Maharis left Route 66 after the producers discovered he was gay

Rumors claiming George Maharis was gay emerged when he was arrested in December 1967 for ‘lewd conduct’. A vice-squad officer claimed Maharis made a pass at him in the restroom of a Hollywood restaurant. Prosecutors dismissed the charge after Maharis pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace. 

In November 1974, Maharis was arrested for committing a sex act with a hairdresser in the men’s room of a gas station. Maharis and the hairdresser, Perfecto Telles, were booked on sex perversion charges and released on bond.

Maharis’ run-ins with the law raised queries about his sexuality. However, the police routinely arrested people on charges of sexual perversion without evidence of wrongdoing. Therefore, people didn’t consider Maharis’ arrests concrete proof of his sexuality. 

That was until Maharis’ biographer, Karen Blocher, alleged that Maharis was secretly gay. Blocher claimed that Maharis left Route 66 after the producers discovered he was gay. She wrote:

“[Producer Herbert B. Leonard] thought he’d hired a young hunk for the show, a hip, sexy man and good actor that all the girls would go for. This was all true of Maharis, but not the whole story, as Leonard discovered to his anger and dismay. George was gay, it turned out.”

Blocher added that the producers felt ‘betrayed and duped’ when they learned Maharis was gay. “[They] never trusted him again,” Blocher continued. “Maharis, for his part, started to feel that he was carrying the show and going unappreciated.”

In an October 2007 interview with Route 66 News, Maharis denied that he left the series because of a contractual misunderstanding. He cited health issues as the reason behind his exit. “The doctor said, ‘If you don’t get out now, you’re either going to be dead, or you’re going to have permanent liver damage,’” Maharis said. He continued:

“I wasn’t interested in leaving the show. I enjoyed it; I was having a good time. I was trying to recuperate, and there was all the crap going on about how I wanted more money. It was all garbage. Some people even tried to make it like I never had hepatitis at all. But it’s all in the doctor’s reports.”