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Richard Chamberlain
Chamberlain in 1964
George Richard Chamberlain

(1934-03-31) March 31, 1934 (age 90)
EducationPomona College (B.A., 1956)[1]
  • Actor
  • singer
Years active1958–present

George Richard Chamberlain (born March 31, 1934) is an American actor and singer who became a teen idol in the title role of the television show Dr. Kildare (1961–1966). He subsequently appeared in several miniseries, such as Shōgun (1980) and The Thorn Birds (1983) and was the first to play Jason Bourne in the 1988 television film The Bourne Identity. Chamberlain has also performed classical stage roles and worked in musical theatre.

Early life

Chamberlain was born in 1934 in Beverly Hills, California,[2] the second son of Elsa Winnifred (née von Benzon; later Matthews) and Charles Axion Chamberlain, who was a salesman.[3][4][5] In 1952, Chamberlain graduated from Beverly Hills High School and later attended Pomona College (class of 1956).[1][6] Chamberlain was drafted into the United States Army, attaining the rank of sergeant while serving in Korea from 1956 to 1958.[7][8][9]


Richard Chamberlain (Dr. Kildare), Daniela Bianchi and Raymond Massey (Dr. Gillespie) from the television program Dr. Kildare in 1964

Chamberlain co-founded a Los Angeles–based theatre group, Company of Angels, and began appearing on television in guest roles in the early 1960s. In 1961, he gained widespread fame as the young intern Dr. James Kildare in the NBC/MGM television series of the same name, co-starring with Raymond Massey. Chamberlain's singing ability also led to some hit singles in the early 1960s, including the "Theme from Dr. Kildare", titled "Three Stars Will Shine Tonight", which struck No. 10 according to the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Dr. Kildare ended in 1966, after which Chamberlain began performing on the theatre circuit. In 1966, he was cast opposite Mary Tyler Moore in the ill-fated Broadway musical Breakfast at Tiffany's, co-starring Priscilla Lopez, which, after an out-of-town tryout period, closed after only four previews. Decades later, he returned to Broadway in revivals of My Fair Lady [10] and The Sound of Music.[11]

Chamberlain and Mary Tyler Moore rehearsing Breakfast at Tiffany's in the mid-1960s

At the end of the 1960s, Chamberlain spent a period of time in England, where he played in repertory theatre and in the BBC's Portrait of a Lady adaptation, becoming recognized as a serious actor. In 1969, he starred opposite Katharine Hepburn in the film The Madwoman of Chaillot. While in England, he took vocal coaching and in 1969 performed the title role in Hamlet for the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, becoming the first American to play the role there since John Barrymore in 1925. He received excellent notices and reprised the role for television in 1970 for the Hallmark Hall of Fame. A recording of the presentation was released by RCA Red Seal Records and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

In the 1970s, Chamberlain appeared in The Music Lovers (1970), Lady Caroline Lamb (playing Lord Byron; 1973), The Three Musketeers (1973), The Lady's Not for Burning (made for television, 1974), The Towering Inferno (in a villainous turn as a dishonest engineer, 1974), and The Count of Monte Cristo (1975). In The Slipper and the Rose (1976), a musical version of the Cinderella story, co-starring Gemma Craven, he displayed his vocal talents. A television film, William Bast's The Man in the Iron Mask (1977), followed. The same year, he starred in Peter Weir's film The Last Wave.

Chamberlain and photographer Yoni S. Hamenachem on the set of King Solomon's Mines in Zimbabwe.

Chamberlain later appeared in several popular television mini-series (earning him a nickname of "King of the Mini-Series"),[12] including Centennial (1978–79), Shōgun (1980), and The Thorn Birds (1983) as Father Ralph de Bricassart with Rachel Ward and Barbara Stanwyck co-starring. In the 1980s, he appeared as leading man with King Solomon's Mines (1985), and played Jason Bourne/David Webb in the television film version of The Bourne Identity (1988).

Since 1990

Since the 1990s, Chamberlain has appeared mainly in television films, on stage, and as a guest star on such series as The Drew Carey Show and Will & Grace. in 1991, he appeared in a TV movie version version of Davis Grubb's The Night of the Hunter that received mixed reviews. He starred as Henry Higgins in the 1993–1994 Broadway revival of My Fair Lady. In the fall of 2005, Chamberlain appeared in the title role of Ebenezer Scrooge in the Broadway National Tour of Scrooge: The Musical. In 2006, Chamberlain guest-starred in an episode of the British drama series Hustle as well as season 4 of Nip/Tuck. In 2007, Chamberlain guest-starred in episode 80 (Season 4, Episode 8, "Distant Past") of Desperate Housewives as Glen Wingfield, Lynette Scavo's stepfather.

In 2008 and 2009, Chamberlain appeared as King Arthur in the national tour of Monty Python's Spamalot. In 2010, he appeared as Archie Leach in season 3, episode 3 of the series Leverage,[13] as well as two episodes of season 4 of Chuck where he played a villain known only as The Belgian.[14] Chamberlain has also appeared in several episodes of Brothers & Sisters, playing an old friend and love-interest of Saul's.[15] He also appeared in the independent film We Are the Hartmans in 2011. In 2012, Chamberlain appeared on stage in the Pasadena Playhouse as Dr. Sloper in the play The Heiress.[16]

In 2017, Chamberlain appeared in Twin Peaks: The Return as Bill Kennedy.

Personal life

Beverly Garland, Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey in the first episode of Dr. Kildare (1961)

Chamberlain was not open about his homosexuality for most of his career, to protect his privacy and his acting opportunities.[17] He was outed by the French women's magazine Nous Deux in December 1989, but did not confirm it until his 2003 autobiography Shattered Love: A Memoir.[18]

Chamberlain was involved romantically with actor Wesley Eure in the 1970s.[19]

In 1977, Chamberlain began a long-term relationship with Martin Rabbett, an actor, like Eure, 20 years his junior.[17] Rabbett played the brother of Chamberlain's lead character in the 1986 film Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. They began living together in Hawaii in 1986 and had a private commitment ceremony.[17] The couple split amicably in 2010, with Chamberlain moving to Los Angeles.[20] In a 2014 interview, Chamberlain said that while he and Rabbett were no longer intimately involved, they remained close friends.[21]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Results Ref.
1963 Photoplay Awards Most Popular Male Star Won
1964 Won
1965 Won
1985 Aftonbladet TV Prize Best Foreign TV Personality – Male Won
1978 Australian Film Institute Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role The Last Wave Nominated [22]
1985 Bravo Otto Best Male TV Star Won
1977 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Actor in a Play The Night of the Iguana Nominated [23]
1962 Golden Apple Awards Most Cooperative Actor Won
1963 Won
1980 Male Star of the Year Won
1962 Golden Globe Awards Best Television Star – Male Dr. Kildare Won [24]
1979 Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama Centennial Nominated
1980 Shōgun Won
1983 Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television The Thorn Birds Won
1985 Wallenberg: A Hero's Story Nominated
1988 The Bourne Identity Nominated
1971 Grammy Awards Best Spoken Word Recording Hamlet Nominated [25]
2012 Hawaii International Film Festival EuroCinema Hawai'i Lifetime Achievement Award Won
1963 Favorite Male Motion Picture Star Nominated
1975 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Special Program – Drama or Comedy The Count of Monte Cristo Nominated [26]
1981 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special Shōgun Nominated
1983 The Thorn Birds Nominated
1985 Wallenberg: A Hero's Story Nominated
1982 Sitges Film Festival Best Actor The Last Wave Won
2003 TV Land Awards Classic TV Doctor of the Year Dr. Kildare Nominated
2011 Steiger Awards Lifetime Achievement Award Won
2023 Online Film & Television Association Awards Television Hall of Fame: Actors Inducted [27]



Year Title Role Notes
1960 The Secret of the Purple Reef Dean Christopher
1961 A Thunder of Drums Lieutenant Porter
1963 Twilight of Honor David Mitchell
1965 Joy in the Morning Carl Brown
1968 Petulia David Danner
1969 The Madwoman of Chaillot Roderick
1970 Julius Caesar Octavius
1970 The Music Lovers Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
1972 Lady Caroline Lamb Lord Byron
1973 The Three Musketeers Aramis
1974 The Towering Inferno Roger Simmons
1974 The Four Musketeers Aramis
1975 The Christmas Messenger Christmas Messenger Short film
1976 The Slipper and the Rose Prince Edward
1977 The Last Wave David Burton Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1978 The Swarm Dr. Hubbard
1982 Murder by Phone Nat Bridger a.k.a. Bells
1985 King Solomon's Mines Allan Quatermain
1986 Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold Allan Quatermain
1989 The Return of the Musketeers Aramis
1995 Bird of Prey Jonathan Griffith
1997 A River Made to Drown In Thaddeus MacKenzie
2004 The Pavilion Huddlestone
2006 Strength and Honour Denis O'Leary
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Councilman Banks
2011 The Perfect Family Monsignor Murphy
2011 We Are the Hartmans Hartman
2015 Justice League: Gods and Monsters Highfather Voice role
2018 Nightmare Cinema Dr. Mirari

Television films

Year Title Role Notes
1972 The Woman I Love King Edward VIII
1974 The Lady's Not For Burning Thomas Mendip
1974 F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Last of the Belles' F. Scott Fitzgerald
1975 The Count of Monte Cristo Edmond Dantes Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Special Program – Drama or Comedy
1977 The Man in the Iron Mask Philippe and Louis XIV
1983 Cook and Peary: The Race to the Pole Frederick Cook
1983 The Thorn Birds Ralph de Bricassart 4 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special
1985 Wallenberg: A Hero's Story Raoul Wallenberg Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special
1986 Dream West John Charles Fremont
1987 Casanova Giacomo Casanova
1988 The Bourne Identity Jason Bourne / David Webb Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
1991 Aftermath: A Test of Love Ross Colburn
1991 Night of the Hunter Harry Powell
1993 Ordeal in the Arctic Captain John Couch
1996 The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years Ralph de Bricassart
1997 All the Winters That Have Been Dane Corvin
1997 The Lost Daughter Andrew McCracken
2006 Blackbeard Governor Charles Eden

Television series

Year Title Role Notes
1959 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Clay Pine Season 5 Episode 11: "Road Hog"
1960 Rescue 8 Episode: "High Explosive"
1960 Bourbon Street Beat Dale Wellington Episode: "Target of Hate"
1960 Gunsmoke Pete Episode: "The Bobsy Twins"
1960 Mr. Lucky Alec Episode: "Operation Fortuna"
1960 Thriller Larry Carter Episode: "The Watcher"
1960 Riverboat Lieutenant Dave Winslow Episode: "Chicota Landing"
1961 The Deputy Jerry Episode: "Edge of Doubt"
1961 Whispering Smith Chris Harrington Episode: "Stain of Justice"
1961–66 Dr. Kildare Dr. James Kildare Title character
Golden Globe Award for Best Television Star – Male
1963 The Eleventh Hour Dr. James Kildare Episode: "Four Feet in the Morning"
1968 The Portrait of a Lady Ralph Touchett Main cast
1978–79 Centennial Alexander McKeag Miniseries, main cast
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama
1980 Shōgun John Blackthorne Miniseries, main cast
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special
1989–90 Island Son Dr. Daniel Kulani Main cast
2000 Touched by an Angel Everett / Jack Clay Episode: "The Face on the Bar Room Floor"
2002 The Drew Carey Show Maggie Wick 2 episodes
2005 Will & Grace Clyde Episode: "Steams Like Old Times"
2006 Hustle James Whittaker Wright III Episode: "Whittaker Our Way Out"
2006 Nip/Tuck Arthur Stiles Episode: "Blu Mondae"
2007 Desperate Housewives Glen Wingfield Episode: "Distant Past"
2010 Chuck Adelbert De Smet 2 episodes
2010–11 Brothers & Sisters Jonathan Byrold Recurring role (season 5)
2010–12 Leverage Archie Leach 2 episodes
2011 ThunderCats Zigg Episode: "Forest of Magi Oar", voice role
2017 Twin Peaks Bill Kennedy Episode: "Part Four"


From Richard Chamberlain Sings: UK #8[28]

From Twilight of Honor
From Richard Chamberlain (aka Joy in the Morning)
From The Slipper and the Rose
From Haleakala: How Maui Snared The Sun/Clarinet Concerto

Published works


  1. ^ a b "Richard Chamberlain". Biography. April 17, 2019. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  2. ^ "Chamberlain, Richard 1934–". Cengage. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  3. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of William Shattuck". Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  4. ^ "Richard Chamberlain Online Article 139". March 31, 1935. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Foote, Abraham W. (1932). "Foote family, comprising the genealogy and history of Nathaniel Foote, of Wethersfield, Conn., and his descendants; also a partial record of descendants of Pasco Foote of Salem, Mass., Richard Foote of Stafford County, Va., and John Foote of New York City". Burlington, Vt.: Free Press Printing Co. p. 33.
  6. ^ Rognlien, Gretchen (August 3, 2015). "Celebrate!". Pomona College Alumni Magazine: 46. Retrieved March 11, 2020. Claremont in Entertainment and Media panel featuring Richard Chamberlain '56.
  7. ^ Richard Chamberlain, Biography (1934–) Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  8. ^ Heartthrob Richard Chamberlain Disliked & Feared Himself ‘Intensely’ Hiding Sexuality for Years Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  9. ^ Richard Chamberlain, Biography Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  10. ^ Kuchwara, Michael (December 10, 1993). "Richard Chamberlain Stars in a Revival of 'My Fair Lady' on Broadway". Associated Press. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  11. ^ Simonson, Robert; McGrath, Seth (February 4, 1999). "Laura Benanti & Richard Chamberlain To Make Bway Sound of Music Mar. 10". Playbill.
  12. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (May 1, 1988). "Richard Chamberlain's Mini-Series Mastery". The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  13. ^ Bacalzo, Dan (November 18, 2008). "Notice of Chamberlain's national tour in Spamalot". Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  14. ^ "Chuck – Episode 4.09 – Chuck versus Phase Three – Synopsis". November 2, 2010. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  15. ^ Ausiello, Michael (October 12, 2010). "'Brothers & Sisters' Exclusive: Richard Chamberlain joins the cast as... Saul's ex?". Entertainment Weekly.
  16. ^ Jones, Kenneth (February 16, 2012). "Pasadena Playhouse's Heiress Will Star Heather Tom, Julia Duffy and Richard Chamberlain". Playbill.
  17. ^ a b c "Interview 41". Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  18. ^ Vary, Adam B. (December 27, 2010). "Out gay actor Richard Chamberlain says he 'wouldn't advise' closeted gay actors to come out. Didn't seem to hurt his career". Entertainment Weekly.
  19. ^ Giddens, Jamey (March 28, 2015). "Wesley Eure: "I Got Fired From DAYS for Being Gay"". Daytime Confidential.
  20. ^ "Richard Chamberlain returns to LA". Belfast Telegraph. April 12, 2010. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  21. ^ McElroy, Steven (November 28, 2014). "At 80, Richard Chamberlain Is Ready to Speak Volumes". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  22. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1978". Australian Film Institute Awards. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  23. ^ "Nominees and Recipients – 1977 Awards". Drama Desk Awards. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  24. ^ "Richard Chamberlain". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  25. ^ "Richard Chamberlain". Grammy Awards. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  26. ^ "Richard Chamberlain". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  27. ^ "Television Hall of Fame: Actors". Online Film & Television Association. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
  28. ^ a b c d e Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Ltd. p. 99. ISBN 978-1904994107.