Richard Chamberlain

Active - 1960 - 2018  |   Born - Mar 31, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Romance

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Biography by Nathan Southern

American actor Richard Chamberlain was a star in his first appearance--as the Pied Piper in the 3rd grade. While attending Pomona College, Chamberlain decided to study acting in earnest, honing his craft in little theatre productions. His All-American handsomeness gained him entry into film and TV work; Chamberlain starred in the title role of the NBC weekly series Dr. Kildare in 1961. It was one of two major medical programs premiering that year; the other was Ben Casey. Chamberlain's first starring film, Twilight of Honor (1963) did little to shake his male ingenue image--nor did his first job after the cancellation of Kildare, the notoriously disastrous musical play Holly Golightly (most reviewers thought this celebrated fiasco would kill both Chamberlain's and co-star Mary Tyler Moore's careers). In the late 1960s, Chamberlain headed for England to seek work in the classics. He first starred in a 1970 stage production of Hamlet, which became one of the pinnacles of his career. Several prestigious film, stage and TV appearances later, Chamberlain headlined the 1980 television multi-part drama Shogun and the 1983 miniseries The Thorn Birds which led critics and viewers to crown him "King of the Miniseries."

Following a lead role in the poorly-received big screen efforts King Solomon's Mines (1985) and its sequel, Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987) (which critics blasted as low-budget Indiana Jones knockoffs) Chamberlain harkened back to the small screen, and continued to make periodic appearances in telemovies throughout the eighties, nineties and early 2000s. Key roles included Jason Bourne in a 1988 adaptation of Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity, and a 1991 reworking of Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter (with Chamberlain assuming the Robert Mitchum part). He also landed guest appearances in such series as Touched by An Angel, Will and Grace, and The Drew Carey Show The actor made headlines in 2003 - not simply because of the debut of his autobiography, Shattered Love: A Memoir, but because the actor - around whom rumors of homosexuality had swirled for years -- finally 'outed' himself officially. (He and his partner, Martin Rabbett, have been together for twenty-five years and live in Hawaii).

Young Dr. Kildare no more, Richard Chamberlain is today a highly respected actor whose very presence in the cast list of a film or miniseries is a guarantee of distinction and class.

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  • Served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army in Korea.
  • A teen idol in the 1960s thanks to Dr. Kildare, he had a career resurgence as "King of the Miniseries" over the next two decades, with classics such as Centennial, Shogun and The Thorn Birds.
  • Was headed to Broadway in 1966 in a musical version of Breakfast at Tiffany's, opposite Mary Tyler Moore, but the show closed after four preview performances and never officially opened.
  • Made his Broadway debut 10 years later, in 1976, in The Night of the Iguana.
  • Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000.
  • Published his autobiography, Shattered Love: A Memoir, in 2003.