May 17, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall
Award winning actor.
The rodent that put Canada on the map.
First stepping into the public spotlight in 1959, as one of the ensemble cast on “Tales Of The Riverbank,” Hammy quickly rose to stardom and seemed naturally equipped to cope with his new-found celebrity status. The fact that he did not have an overblown ego or public displays of selfishness and arrogance problem probably went a long way towards endearing him to the public. Portions of his salary were donated to community centre, homeless shelters, day-care centres and veterinary naturopathic supply outlets. He always appeared humble before the camera and in interviews.
Sadly, other cast-members coped poorly with the success of the series.
Martha Mouse, who played the original “Martha Mouse” on “Tales Of The Riverbank” left the series in 1964 and moved to Hollywood to pursue opportunities in films. She had no luck on the big screen and fell into obscurity for several years. In 1972 she was arrested for prostitution and drug possession but was later acquitted for lack of evidence. In 1981 she robbed a cheese shop but her get-away was foiled when she became lost in a maze. In exchange for a shortened prison sentence, Martha Mouse agreed to participate in medical experiments. She died of cancer in 1983.
The “Martha Mouse” character has since been played by a succession of unremarkable actresses. “G.P.” the guinea pig has also been portrayed by more actors than Doctor Who. Tom Poston, Al Waxman, Lorne Green, Paul Anka, John Candy, Kevin Costner and Robin Williams are just a few of the otherwise impressive performers who have been cast as “G.P.” in the passed forty years. None have had the longevity or complete understanding of the character that Hammy brings to his role.
Hammy Hamster is the only original actor from “Tales Of The Riverbank” to have maintained the character through all of the subsequent incarnations of the program. “Once Upon A Hamster”, “Hammy Hamster & Friends” and the rarely-seen 1985 series, “Hamster, P.I.” Hammy openly admits that plastic surgery is to thank for his continued youthful appearance after all of these years.
In his personal life, Hammy has not been as blessed as in his professional life. He has been married and divorced nine times in addition to being romantically linked to such celebrities as Doris Day, Britt Ekland, Bianca Jagger, Dyan Nylan, Margaret Trudeau, Loni Anderson, Kate Jackson, Yeardley Smith, Carmen Electra and Jennifer Ashton-Gardiner. Through all of those relationships he has never found true love.
In 2004, following his last divorce, he took a vow of celibacy, determined to focus all of his energies into his acting and his philanthropic projects in the community. Society has benefited greatly from his choice. In recent years, Hammy Hamster has branched out from television and is now a major player on the internet. A quarter of a million people visit http://www.hammyhamster.com/ each day.
Most importantly, for more than four decades, in every interview, public appearance, promotional tour and book-signing he has done across Canada and throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia and Antarctica, Hammy Hamster has proudly declared that he is Canadian. Canada can be as proud and boastful of this hamster as he is of Canada.
No matter what the future may bring for this determined little rodent, Hammy Hamster will always be a national treasure in our frozen land.