I’m Always Getting Arrested
For some people, everything comes up roses. No matter what the odds, they plunk down their two bucks and end up with a fistful. Then there’s this guy named George Maharis who can’t win. He ran just be standing someplace—anyplace—minding his own business when along comes a cop and . . . before he knows what’s happening, he’s being hauled off to jail.
Sound funny? Phony? It isn’t.
Every once in a while an unusual story comes along that must be printed. This is that kind of a story. It’s a story Photoplay prints to show that things like this can happen. They happened to Maharis. We hope they don’t happen to you. . . .
There was no anger, no bitterness in George’s voice as he talked to me about the times he’s been stopped by the police, taken to the station house, even put in jail.
“The cops sure like to pick me up,” George laughed. “I don’t know why, but I’m always getting arrested. Maybe it’s my face that does it, or the way I dress. Maybe it’s my personality. I don’t like being pushed around. I figure my clothes, the way I walk, my personality are my business. So when somebody else makes them his business, I get my back up. It all adds up to one thing: I get into trouble a lot easier than I get out of it.
“The first time I got mixed up with the police, it wasn’t because of the way I run or anything like that. It was because of my Aunt Fifi. Now I don’t know if she was my real aunt, but all us Maharis kids called her that. She and her husband had a great deal of influence with my mother and father. I don’t know why. Aunt Fifi was nice enough—except she looked like Betty Boop. Her husband was the card. He looked like a dog—a Pekingese. His idea of a jolly way to relax after a meal was to sit there cracking every joint in his body. Boy, did that drive me nuts. Well, for some reason or other, these two convinced my parents that their boy George was headed for evil ways. They felt this desperado had to be nipped in the bud. and suggested somebody put the fear of the law in me. They must have talked it up pretty good, because one day Mom and Pop, who never would have thought of this crazy plan all by themselves, marched me to the police station for a lesson. It was a lesson all right— I never forgot it.
“Don’t cry or you’re lost!”
“When we got there, Mom handed me over to this tough-looking sergeant. He marched me into a room that was bare except for a table and chairs. Lots of cops were sitting around. There was only one light in the whole room. I wondered what was going on. I soon found out. The cops just sat there looking at me. Then one of them started lecturing me on what would happen to a kid who tried to buck the law. One asked me questions, but I didn’t answer. Then he told me what happens when somebody gets arrested— how they have all their clothes taken away, how they’re put in a dark cell, how they’re hungry. I was shaking from head to toe as I listened. I soon realized that they were trying to break me, trying to make me cry and promise to be good. I wouldn’t give them any satisfaction. I just kept telling myself, ‘Don’t give in, don’t cry or you’re lost!’ My silence killed them. When they saw I was hopeless, they let me go. For a long time I hated cops, my parents and the whole world.
“New York, you know, is my home town. It’s also the place where I get arrested the most. Several years ago while I was attending classes at the Actors’ Studio, I got a part in an off-Broadway play, ‘Deathwatch.’ One day after class I headed crosstown on my way to rehearsal. I had my ‘Deathwatch’ script rolled up under my arm. inside it was a phony .45 pistol I needed for my part. In my back pocket I’d stuck a German Mauser pistol which I’d gotten as a souvenir in Germany. On Lexington Avenue and 54th Street, near the Civil Defense Building, these cops came up to me. They must’ve thought I was a big desperado.
“When they found the two guns on me, they were sure they’d found a criminal. I showed them the script, but they wouldn’t believe me. Then I started to laugh because ‘Deathwatch’ is a story about three guys who happen to be in a cell. I laughed even harder when I remembered that a few days before I’d told the producer that maybe I’d better go to jail to get the feel of the part. And now I was actually being hauled off to jail. On the way to the station house, and for a good long time after we got there, I kept telling them I was an actor. But they wouldn’t buy it. They arrested me, took my fingerprints and sent me off to a dark cell. I wasn’t laughing any more. Sitting in that cell, I remembered what the cops had said to me that day years before. They were right. Everything they said would happen did. Including the being hungry. I refused to eat. I learned later that that was a pretty stupid thing for me to do because if you refuse to eat for several meals, the cops might send you to a psycho ward for observation.
“Anyway, by morning the whole thing had been straightened out. I didn’t waste any time getting out of there. Oh, yeah, I made sure I got my fingerprints back, too!
“I was pretty burned up about the whole thing, but decided there was a first time for everything. I decided at the same time that that would be the last time Mrs. Maharis’ boy was hauled in by the cops. Boy, was I wrong!
“Some time later, while I was still going to acting class, I decided to go to a delicatessen and buy some apples. I love apples, fruit, raw vegetables—all that stuff. Sometimes I go into a supermarket and buy a whole bag of apples or pears, and by the time I get to the check-out counter, I’ve got nothing left but the empty bag with the price marked on it. Anyway, I walked into this delly on the West Side and asked for apples. The lady said they didn’t have any. So I turned and ran out, headed for the subway. These cops saw me running and right away figure I’ve just pulled a job. ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ I told them. But they were suspicious. They decided to take me back to the delly and make sure I didn’t take anything. The woman in the store was surprised and, of course, told the cops I hadn’t done anything but try to buy some apples. Wouldn’t you know, just as she was explaining what happened, these kids from class walked in. They got a big laugh when they saw me with the cops. I wasn’t laughing. Neither were the cops—they were just red-faced!
“He decided I was guilty”
“I wish I could say that my home-town cops were the only ones who think I’m suspicious looking. But I can’t. On my first trip to California, I was staying at this place—the Hollywood Sunset. A girl I knew there had a room two doors away. But the place was set up so you could have like connecting doors. In other words, I could go through the room next to mine, then go to the girl’s room. The guy in the middle room was a friend of hers, a jazz musician. She said it would be okay for me to go through the room. Well, I believed her. The next thing I know this musician is missing $500 cash and some other stuff. He took one look at me—an actor with no job and no money— and decided I was guilty. He asked for the stuff back, and when I told him I didn’t have it. he started to call the police. Boy, did I get out of there fast. I hid low until I heard they’d found the guy who did it. That little incident sort of soured me on California. I went back home.
“I love to travel. For some people it broadens them mentally—you know? But for me it just broadens the number of places to get arrested in. once when I was hitchhiking in Georgia on my way back to New York from Cuba, this guy in a fancy Caddie picks me up. A hitch- hiker’s dream. What luck! Well, as we’re riding along, we start talking about various things and we get into this political argument. I got pretty sore because this guy was somewhat of a Commie. He got furious, too. ‘Stop this car,’ I yelled. I’m getting out!’ When he refused, I figured I’d just have to jump out. As I was flying out the door, a Georgia State Police car comes by. I was plenty worried. I’d heard that in Georgia they put vagrants on a chain gang. I had visions of me building miles and miles of Georgia roads, chained. The guy in the Caddie was worried, too, because he stopped the car. Probably, he didn’t want to be accused of pushing me out. When the cops asked what was going on, I said I’d fallen asleep against the door and just fell out. That jerky Caddie owner was a cornball actor. ‘Yeah, yeah,’ he kept saying. ‘That’s exactly what happened.’ He sure hammed it up good. The cops didn’t believe a word of our story, but what could they do? They had to let us go. That was a close one!
“Back in New York, things began to click for me acting wise. They also began to pick up as far as the police were concerned. One night I took my girl home (she lived in Greenwich Village), and headed back to the apartment I was living in then on Second Avenue. I got off the subway at 42nd Street and started running the rest of the way home. A cop stopped me and asked why I was running. I told him I liked to run, that I was running because I was young and needed exercise. Well, he didn’t buy that, so once again I was hauled off to the police station. There I told the story about taking my girl home and then heading home myself. I finally convinced him to call up the girl. He did, and when he told her he was the police, she was sure I’d been mugged, or run over or something. She got real excited. When the policeman calmed her down and explained the purpose of the call, she said, ‘Oh, that! He always runs.’ The sergeant figured it was natural for a nut like me to have a crazy girlfriend, so he decided to let me go. As I left the station house, I started to run again. I guess I’m just me and I can’t change.
“But I think this story has a happy ending. I think I’ve been picked up for the last time. At least I hope so. That was in San Diego, a year ago. I was there for ‘Route 66.’ I checked into a motel, then decided to see the town. I found a crazy section with penny arcades, pinball machines—the kind of jazz I love. I was playing this interesting machine when a prowl car drove up. I heard one of the cops yell, ‘Hey, you!’ I turned around to see who he was yelling at. It was me. I walked over to the car and asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘Let’s see your identification,’ the cop snapped. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘There’s no law says I gotta carry identification.’ ‘Oh, a wise guy,’ the cop says. ‘C’mon, buddy, we’re taking you to the station.’ I got in the car and for five blocks or so we sat there giving each other dirty looks. Then the cop who was driving took a look at me. ‘Say,’ he said, ‘I’ve seen you before.’ I crossed my fingers and hoped he wouldn’t think he remembered my face from a handbill in the post office, if you know what I mean. ‘Aren’t you one of the guys from that TV show?’ When I said ‘That’s right!’ the cops were real nice—they apologized. They even drove me back to my pinball machine. When I was getting out of the car, I asked what made them pick on me. ‘Well,’ the driver said, ‘this is a Navy town, there are lots of sailors here and the way you’re dressed, well, you just had that AWOL look!’
“Anyway, I hope you see what I mean about that happy ending. Because of ‘Route 66’ my face is getting a little familiar. So maybe next time a cop sees me running, or dressed in an AWOL looking outfit, with an AWOL look on my face, he’ll just look at me and say, ‘He’s okay. He’s that kook on television.’ ”
—GEORGE CARPOZI, JR.
George Maharis can be seen on CBS-TV’s “Route 66,” Fridays, 8:30-9:30 P.M. EST.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 1962