October 04, 2005

Hamilton Camp, R.I.P.

A wonderful singer-songwriter and actor, Hamilton Camp, died in Los Angeles on Sunday at the age of 71. If the name does not ring a bell, I guarantee you have seen him and heard him (if not as a singer, than as a voiceover actor). As his website testifies, he was constantly working in movies, television, music, and theater.

As a young man, he was charming, funny, handsome, and talented. The only thing that held him back from being a star as an actor was his height. He was short. Very short. Perhaps his most memorable role highlighting his appearance was one of the best episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show ever: "Toulouse-Lautrec Is One of My Favorite Artists," in which Mary must come to terms with the fact that Hamilton has to be about the greatest guy she ever dated except for this particular shortcoming.

But I fell in love with Camp's music first -- his collaboration with the great Bob Gibson in 1961, the straight-ahead folkie Paths of Victory, but most of all, Here's To You, with a pop feel, featuring the ridiculously catchy title song, which I must have played on my college radio show 20 times if I played it once.

A great talent and a great loss.