HELLO AMERCA!—Growing up in the 1940s, we idolized Ray Milland, Ronald Coleman, Charles Boyer, Jimmy Stewart and so many exciting wonderful actors who reminded us who and what we were as a people. There is no doubt that Richard Chamberlain playing the challenging role of “Dr. Kildare” in 1961 affected us in the same way.
The late actress, Joan Marshall, introduced me to the actor when his series was scheduled to end in 1965. We were amused when finding that we both were patience of the same psychologist. It was obvious that we both were attempting to find a way to feel comfortable in an industry we loved so much. We immediately became friends.
Richard decided to sign to do a stage version of the film “Breakfast at Tiffiny’s” with Mary Tyler Moore. While having a tryout run in Philadelphia he wrote to me admitting that the play was struggling. He was right, within a few weeks, the play closed. It was then that he decided to register at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and that initiated a dramatic change as an actor for Richard.
When speaking to him about his experience, he quickly noted, “It was the right place and time for me to get help and support as an actor. I approached a character differently and there is no hesitation to move deeper in the center of a character. It’s an exciting experience reaching for something which might represent more meaning and reason to be.”
Richard hit the Broadway stage in shows such as “My Fair Lady” and “The Sound of Music” proving again and again that he had arrived as a powerful creative force within the industry. “It was a thrill every time I faced an audience.” He said. “I knew what I had to do and it was fun doing it.”
“Thornbirds,” “Shogun” and “Dreamwest.” Richard quickly admitted that he feels very lucky and blessed with his career. “I’ve been able to do some extraordinary work in films as well as in the theatre. So, I have no complaints. I’ve been forced to understand and learn more about myself, who I really am as well.”
The actor made it very clear that it wasn’t difficult for him to come out as a gay man. “For years I, like tons of other actors, was in the closet for fear of destroying the career. Those years are long passed and the world has changed dramatically. I simply felt that it was time to be honest about myself as an everyday guy who happens to be gay. And after I let it all hang out, I experienced a fantastic release, I felt totally together and free.”
Richard still has that certain magic I was aware of during those early years. He’s still a star but he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve.