Article 119

Life's A Beach For Chamberlain

Ever wondered whatever happened to Richard Chamberlain? You remember RC, don't you?

He played the telly doc who made female pulses race and hearts flutter as Dr. Kildare in the 60s.

With his blond hair, swoony smile and boyish good looks, he was just what the doctor ordered.

RC also has had a successful movie career, his films including The Slipper And The Rose in which he co-starred with Dublin-born Gemma Craven.

Where is he now? He's living the rich, quiet life in Hawaii where he has a sprawling $7.5m mansion which he shares with TV producer Martin Rabbett.

Chamberlain at 60 is in fact scaling down his career to enjoy the good life.

"I'm now a painter and a beach bum," he says. "Getting older is a fact of life none of us can avoid."

"Most people go through a midlife crisis when they hit 40. Mine was a big one. I absolutely hated turning 40.

"I was so dependent on being young and handsome, and I was no longer part of the younger generation. It was tough to face. I nearly had a nervous breakdown, and wanted to die."

"Oddly enough, my 50th birthday was no big deal because I was so busy working. Now that I'm 60, I'm resigned to it."

Just 35 years ago Chamberlain rocketed to fame as Dr. Kildare.

As well as being TV's handsomest medic, Dr. Kildare was also an idealist, a knight in shining stethoscope who didn't need any patients' charter to make him care.

And unlike modern day docs he never objected to work after hours if his patients need him.

When the series was suddenly cancelled, he quit the Hollywood rat race and moved to Britain where he did classic theatre.

"It was very traumatic for when Dr. Kildare ended," he says. "Suddenly I had no identity."

"I became Hollywood's forgotten teen idol. I was just a handsome young doctor in a white coat. No one wanted to look past that so the only thing was to go to London and do Shakespeare and prove I was a real actor, not a stereotype."

The move paid off, because when Chamberlain moved back to Los Angeles, he starred in the hugely popular mini-series The Thorn Birds and Shogun.

Chamberlain admits he is gay although he says he never discusses his private life on the basis that "actors have to protect their intimate secrets."

He recently completed the mini-series, The Last Ship and The Bourne Supremacy, and he is narrating a third, Gai-Jin, based on a book by Shogun author James Clavell.

"Everyone wants me to knock TV, but why should I?" he says. "It's been good to me. I like TV.