George Hamilton

George Hamilton stars in the national tour of "La Cage aux Folles," which comes to the Hippodrome. (Paul Kolnik, Handout photo / October 7, 2011)

George Hamilton just wants a cup of coffee, that's all. But a small obstacle confounds the handsome, supernaturally tanned actor in his Tulsa, Okla., hotel room — the coffee maker.

"This is a whole new experience for me," he says by phone. "I'm 72 years old. It's about time I learned how to do this. Hold on a minute."

Vague clanking sounds can be heard, for more than a minute.

"It doesn't look like coffee," Hamilton says when he gets back on the line. "It's just sugar and milk and warm water. This is the worst milk and water I've ever tasted. You really want to think that you can do something on your own, and you basically become an idiot."

Hamilton, who stars in a revival of the hit musical "La Cage aux Folles" that reaches the Hippodrome this week, lets out a big, contagious laugh.

Just what you would expect from the man who wrote in his 2008 autobiography "Don't Mind If I Do": "I'll never stop being able to laugh at myself."

Hamilton could retain A-lister status indefinitely on his iridescent smile and self-deprecation alone, but he remains very much in the game.

"It started out that I would do this tour [of "La Cage"] for nine months," he says. "Then they talked me into doing it for 12. Meantime, I am producing a movie and working on another show. But if you don't take on something a little daunting, you rust out. I went to Tony Bennett's [85th] birthday party the other night. My God, he must have sung 30 songs. That's what I mean."

Hamilton doesn't seem capable of rusting (bronzing is another story).

Although not every chapter of his long career has exactly been memorable — "Sextette," with an embalmed-looking Mae West, is a glaring case in point — Hamilton has demonstrated remarkable resilience in a tough business, from "Where the Boys Are" to "Zorro, the Gay Blade," from "Dynasty" to "Dancing with the Stars."

When the Memphis-born Hamilton arrived in California by car in 1957, the biggest thing on his resume was a few roles in high school productions. "And one month later, I was under contract at MGM," Hamilton says.

By 1959, he had started making films, and a name for himself.

"I've been employed most of the 52 years since then," he says. "I often wonder what would have happened if I had taken a right turn instead of a left turn on the way out there. Maybe I would have been a good politician. But I wouldn't give this job up for anything. I've had a wonderful, charmed life."

Movies were the dominant factor in that life, along with quite a few women, of course — his sex life began with his own stepmother (when he was 12) and progressed through various actresses, a president's daughter and many more. But stage work has frequently been one of Hamilton pursuits, too.

"Being in the theater organizes your life," he says. "You feel that you really have a job. I remember talking to William Holden, Robert Mitchum, Clark Gable — not one of them felt they had a real job being in the movies. Gable was just happy he wasn't driving a truck."

Hamilton's "real job" at the moment is to portray Georges, owner of a would-be glamorous drag club in Saint-Tropez and longtime partner of Albin — aka Zaza, when dressed as a sparkling chanteuse.

Adapted from the popular 1973 film of the same name by Jerry Herman (music) and Harvey Fierstein (book), "La Cage aux Folles" took home the best musical Tony Award in 1984. An innovative revival that originated at London's Menier Chocolate Factory was the basis for a Broadway production that won the best musical revival Tony last year.

That revival featured TV star Kelsey Grammer as Georges, a casting choice that paid off at the box office. When it came time to find a Georges for the national tour, producer Barry Weissler did not have to agonize over anything.

"Who could portray a wonderful bon vivant like Georges better than George Hamilton?" Weissler says.