Actor and Hamburger Hamlet founder Harry Lewis dies at 93
Actor-turned-restaurateur Harry Lewis -- he founded the Hamburger Hamlet chain of restaurants, and later Kate Mantilini -- has died. He was 93.
Lewis starred alongside the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson in 1948’s “Key Largo” and had a long list of other film and TV credits. But he was perhaps best known for opening Hamburger Hamlet in 1950 along with the noted celebrity clothing designer who would become his wife. Harry and Marilyn Lewis would expand the Hamburger Hamlet chain to 24 locations before selling it in the late 1980s for about $30 million.
Lewis’ Hollywood connections served him well during his time at the helm of Hamburger Hamlet. Among the restaurant’s regulars: Ronald Reagan, Tony Curtis and Sammy Davis Jr.
Hamburger Hamlet was known for customized burgers with audacious toppings long before it became the trendy thing to do, as well as an eclectic mix of other homey, comforting fare. Essentially, the Lewises served food that they themselves would enjoy eating.
Lewis and his wife opened several other restaurants as well, including Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills. It became the backdrops for that famed scene in 1995’s “Heat,” when Robert De Niro and Al Pacino shared the movie screen for the first time.
Harry and Marilyn Lewis would turn the reins of Kate Mantilini over to their sons in 2009. Their colorful relationship provided much fodder for Marilyn’s memoir, “Marilyn, Are You Sure You Can Cook?”
Harry Lewis died Sunday at a convalescent home in Beverly Hills, where he had lived for the past two years.
Lewis is survived by his wife, Marilyn, as well as sons David and Adam and five grandchildren. Burial arrangements are underway.
We will have a full obituary later today at www.latimes.com/obituaries.
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