Background check

George Hamilton ’58

George Hamilton ’58 may have the same name as the perpetually tan actor, but his brief role in TV was behind the scenes. The Colgate history major started his winding career path at CBS television in New York City following graduation. He only spent a year working there, handling broadcast operations, before a piece of paper changed his course.

George Hamilton '58In 1959, a draft notice sent Hamilton to Fort Dix, N.J., for basic training. Afterward, he was assigned to the First Region Air Defense Command at Fort Baker in California for two years.

Returning to the East Coast, he started working for Chubb and Son — first in New York City and then in Chicago — insuring international cargo being shipped to the United States.

Through a co-worker in Chicago, Hamilton met a few FBI agents and became intrigued by their stories. He applied to the agency and was accepted. In June of 1966, Hamilton began training in Washington, D.C. Once again, he was sent to another part of the country — this time, Louisville, Ky. As a newbie to the FBI, “you usually get a lot of background checks to do,” explained Hamilton in his matter-of-fact style.

Soon, a transfer to Tulsa, Okla., would introduce Hamilton to investigative work — fugitive cases and bank robberies. Later, he went into counterintelligence and white-collar crime.

Although Hamilton prefers to keep the specifics of his FBI work under wraps, he does say that “going out and talking to people” to develop sources was his favorite part. “You try to build some rapport with an individual so he would give you the information you’re looking for,” he said.

Retiring from the agency in 1986, Hamilton became a private investigator for 12 years, working on a contract basis for a large law firm.

He and his wife, Claudia, still live in Tulsa, near their daughter. After permanently retiring, Hamilton kept busy by playing and refereeing golf for more than a decade. Now, he volunteers for the tutoring program Reading Partners, which helps promote literacy for school-aged children.

Hamilton noted that he “fell into” his various careers because the work world was a different place back then. “When I got out of school, if you wanted to interview with a company and got hired, they would train you in what you wanted to do. The world has changed.” Although he didn’t plan the different routes that his career has taken, he emphasized, “I have no regrets.”

— Aleta Mayne