Harry Lewis, Actor and Hamburger Hamlet Founder, Dies at 93

Harry Lewis

Thesp-entrepreneur ran Kate Mantilini until 2009

Harry Lewis, who started as an actor in films such as “Key Largo” and went on to found the Hamburger Hamlet and Kate Mantilini restaurants with his wife Marilyn, died of natural causes Sunday in Beverly Hills. He was 93.

Born in Hollywood, he started acting in the Air Force during WWII and was signed to Warner Bros. when he left the military. He met his future wife Marilyn when she came to see him several nights in a row at the Pasadena Playhouse. In “Key Largo,” he played Edward “Toots” bass, a member of Edward G. Robinson’s gang.

His numerous small film roles included “Gun Crazy” and “Blonde Dynamite” as well as guest appearances on “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “Adventures of Superman.”

The Lewises opened the first Hamburger Hamlet on the Sunset Strip in 1950, with Harry cooking and Marilyn waiting tables, then opened a second Hamlet the same day son Adam was born in 1955. With locations including Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood Blvd. and Palm Springs, the restaurant was a hit with industry figures including Sammy Davis Jr., Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Al Pacino.

The chain expanded to 24 locations before the Lewises sold them in 1987 for $33 million. The couple continued to run Kate Mantilini until 2009, when sons David and Adam took over the restaurant’s operations.

Adam Lewis said his father had a “relentless drive that never extinguished.”

Harry Lewis is survived by his wife Marilyn, sons David and Adam and five grandchildren.

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