Harry Lewis (actor)

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For other people named Harry Lewis, see Harry Lewis (disambiguation).
Harry Lewis
Harry Lewis actor.jpg
Born (1920-04-01)April 1, 1920
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died June 9, 2013(2013-06-09) (aged 93)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Other names Cpl. Harry Lewis
Occupation Actor, restaurateur
Years active 1941–1985
Spouse(s) Marilyn Friedman Lewis
(1952–2013; his death)

Harry L. Lewis (April 1, 1920 – June 9, 2013) was a supporting actor in films and was the founder, along with his wife Marilyn, of the "Hamburger Hamlet" restaurant chain.


Lewis was born in Los Angeles, California, on April 1, 1920.[1] His first film role was as a flagman in Dive Bomber (1941). He was immediately put under contract to Warner Bros., at which he made several films. He is perhaps best remembered for his role as Edward "Toots" Bass, one of Edward G. Robinson's henchmen, in 1948's Key Largo.[2]

Other small film roles included appearances as Claude Rains's butler in The Unsuspected (1947), Sheriff Clyde Boston in Gun Crazy (1949), and as a gangster in "The Monkey Mystery" episode of Adventures of Superman on television (1951).[3] He also had a minor role as a slave in Cecil B. Demille's epic The Ten Commandments.

In 1950, Lewis and his, at the time, girlfriend Marilyn Friedman,[4] invested $3,500 to open the Hamburger Hamlet restaurant at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Hilldale Avenue on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The restaurant was successful and grew into a chain of 24 locations. The couple's two children, David and Adam, joined them in the restaurant business. The Lewises took Hamburger Hamlet public in 1969, and sold the company for $29.2 million in 1987. After the sale, the couple opened new independent restaurants in the Los Angeles area. The reason they gave for the name "Hamburger Hamlet" was because they meant for the eatery to be a restaurant where actors could hang out, and that it was every actor's dream to play Hamlet.[citation needed][citation needed]

In the late 1960s, Marilyn Lewis launched a ready-to-wear line of clothing under the brand name Cardinali, which was sold at prestigious stores including Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. The clothing line lasted just nine years, but was influential in its time (featured in Vogue magazine), and was a favorite of Nancy Reagan, Dyan Cannon and Marlo Thomas. The Cardinali line was credited for influencing designers such as Marc Jacobs and various gowns worn to the Oscars.[5]

Lewis died on June 9, 2013 at the age of 93.[6]


  1. ^ "California births at Family Tree Legends". Family Tree Legends. Retrieved 2010-7.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ Crowther, Bosley (July 17, 1948). "Key Largo: Movie Review". New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  3. ^ Harry Lewis at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Lynch, Rene (June 10, 2013). "Harry Lewis dies at 93; launched Hamburger Hamlet chain". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ Apodaca, Rose (March 18, 2007). "The Cardinali Touch". The Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Lynch, Rene (June 10, 2013). "Actor and Hamburger Hamlet founder Harry Lewis dies at 93". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 10, 2013. 

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