Actor/producer Chad Allen grew up in Hollywood, in the shadow of show business. A child actor from the age of four (when he appeared in a McDonald's commercial), he soon landed regular roles on series including Webster (1985-1986), Our House (1986-1988), and My Two Dads (1989-1990), in addition to a pivotal role on St. Elsewhere as the autistic and incommunicative child of Dr. Westphall (Ed Flanders), a boy whose delusions "created" St. Eligius. In the 1990s, Allen signed on to play Matthew Cooper, the adopted son of Dr. Michaela "Mike" Quinn on the western drama Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993-1998).
Allen made headlines and then some beginning in 2001, when the thespian came out of the closet as a homosexual; in addition to embracing his status as a gay male (and discussing his orientation at length in a series of publications including The Advocate), he co-founded a production company, Mythgarden, devoted to dramatically expanding the number of LGBT themes explored in contemporary cinema and television. The Roman Catholic-raised actor stirred up some controversy in certain sectors when he signed on in 2005 to portray Nate Saint, a missionary murdered by Ecuadorian tribes, and Steve Saint, the missionary's son, in the inspirational religious drama End of the Spear (2005), though only because the feature found an audience among conservative evangelical audiences. In 2008, Allen produced and starred in the drama Save Me. The tale of a deeply confused gay man lured into a "Christian recovery center" by an evangelical couple, it critiqued conservative evangelical attitudes (and harsh hypocrisy) often directed toward the contemporary gay community.