George Maharis, Star of 'Route 66,' Dead at 94

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Actor and singer Maharis left the CBS drama after 82 episodes when he was diagnosed with hepatitis



George Maharis has died at the age of 94.

The Route 66 star died Wednesday, according to his friend Marc Bahan. In a Facebook post, Bahan wrote: “George Maharis passed away on Wednesday, May 25. George is well known for his stardom in route 66, stage productions, singing, artist, and above all a great guy would do anything for anyone. My dear friend, you’ll be terribly missed.”

PEOPLE reached out to Bahan for further comment.

Maharis was best known for his role as the charismatic Buz Murdock in the 1960s CBS drama Route 66. He played the character for 82 episodes — from 1960 to 1963 — until he contracted hepatitis. A doctor told him, “If you don’t get out now, you’re either going to be dead or you’re going to have permanent liver damage,” he recounted to Route 66 News in 2007.

<p>Art Zelin/Getty Images</p>

Art Zelin/Getty Images

Route 66 stopped shortly after Maharis left, despite attempts to keep the show moving forward. The show remained one of Maharis’s greatest legacies, even offering an Emmy nomination for the role in 1962.

Related: Paying Tribute to the Celebrities Who Have Died in 2023

<p>CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images</p>

CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

After the trek-across-America TV show, Maharis turned his attention mainly to film. Some of his most notable works include ‘60s films  Quick Before It Melts, Sylvia, A Covenant with Death and The Happening.

He made a list of other TV appearances in series like The Most Deadly Game, Rich Man, Poor Man, Marcus Welby, M.D., Night Gallery, McMillan & Wife, Search for Tomorrow, The Bionic Woman and Fantasy Island.

<p>David Livingston/Getty Images</p>

David Livingston/Getty Images

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Maharis also had a music career. In 1962, he released an album with Epic Records called George Maharis Sings! He followed it with three more albums: Portrait In Music (Expanded Edition), Tonight You Belong to Me and New Route: George Maharis (Live). He also did a handful of off-Broadway productions ahead of his time on Route 66.

The actor leaves behind brother Robert Maharis, who worked in Hollywood as a noteworthy location manager.

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