Maharis was stricken with infectious hepatitis in April. He entered the St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, and producers of "Route 66" went round inoculating actors, technicians and anybody who might have been in contact with the sick TV star.
Even a newspaper reporter who visited the set before George's illness was offered a shot. "I felt terrible about that," said George, feeling as much compassion for the newspaperman as for the actors. "I felt like a plague, spreading hepatitis."
More than 50 people who worked with George during that time received shots, and Maharis indicated where when he said, "they couldn't sit down."
I went to dinner at some friends' house and the whole family had to get inoculated," he said. "There were three adults and they had to get adjusted to the fact that they might come down with hepatitis, anyway. What I really felt bad about were the two children."Snoopers
During one month of his illness, Maharis was confined to a hospital room, a sign on the door warning visitors of hepatitis' contagious nature. But that didn't stop snooping fans. "It's amazing how people knew what room I was in," he said. "I'd tell strangers to 'get out, you'll catch hepatitis.' But those people answered that they just wanted to visit."
Hospitalization was a bore to Maharis, an active young man who can't tolerate idleness. "I was supposed to convalesce for two and a half weeks, but I don't know what the word means," George said. "I've worked all my life and don't know what a vacation is."
"The first day on the set I worked 15 hours and the second, another 15. I was only supposed to work half a day. So the third day was Sunday, and I stayed in bed."
George attributed his recovery to the fact that he is not a member of Hollywood's late-night party set. "I don't drink and my liver was strong," he said. "If I'd been drinking I would have been in bad shape."
"Route 66" stayed in the Hollwyood area long enough for George to rest up for rough trips to Washington and Oregon, not to mention Alaska. "I feel fine now," he grinned, "but the doctor says I should be careful. You know me, though. I can't slow down. I'm as high-powered as the sports car Marty Milner and I drive in the series."
At last report, the handsome Greek was swinging through long, tedious workdays almost as though he'd never had hepatitis. Everybody knows that the "Route 66" series is filmed in cities throughout America, and when the company went out recently, Marty Milner decided to take his wife and two children with him in the family station wagon.
Milner figured they could stay together and have a lot of fun seeing new sights. But the constant climate changes all the ways from New York to Maine to Alabama caught them without proper clothes. Then hotels and motels frowned on taking children into their rooms.
"In Colorado," says Milner, "we decided that following 'Route 66' in a station-wagon was too rough. I took a short leave and brought the family home--as much as I hated to."
The Wrong Route
Just before he was stricken with hepatitis, George Maharis and his freckled co-star, Martin Milner, returned to Los Angeles after a six months' tour of America filming "Route 66" on location. But it was only a stopover to make another episode at the International Airport.
Tod (Marty) and Buz (George) were to have shot scenes aboard a jet readying to take off for New York. The plane taxied on to the runway before Maharis, realising he wasn't in the script's plane, yelled "stop."
There was pandemonium among the passengers, but the hostesses rushed forward, the day was saved, and George made the right plane--one of a similar type standing nearby loaded with extras as passengers.