Article 70

He Inspires Women -with the desire to darn his socks

Richard Chamberlain wishes to heaven he weren't so boyishly winsome.

A well scrubbed young man sits in a little Hollywood bar, talking eagerly. He is a tall, athletic youth who might well be used as a model for a patriotic poster. There is something almost symbolically American about his exuberantly healthy, long limbed body and his gleaming cleanliness.

His face is less prototypal. It is abnormally taut, as if the skin were pulled tightly across the bones, wiping his chiseled features clean of expression. And he has the soft, oval eyes of a fawn.

"I've thought a lot about what makes a strong leading man," he says. "Almost any actor who becomes a romantic hero has a bit of a paradox about him. Take Clark Gable - the hearty sportsman, the dashing rake. And yet there was something about him that was mysterious, aloof and unknown. Or Marlon Brando. There's a lot of violence about Brando. Yet there's also the tenderness. Contradictory elements have been brought together in one being. It is this imbalance that's so compelling."

It is an interesting thesis, but the speaker refutes it in his own person. One of the most popular leading men in the country, he is possibly the least 'mysterious' and 'compelling' romantic hero on record.

He is Richard Chamberlain, the young Dr. Kildare.

A winsome, hesitant youth, he projects neither mysterious nor heroic qualities, but rather the somewhat blank innocence of inexperience. The language even his most devoted enthusiasts use about him - "sweet, "wholesome," "healthy" - makes him sound more edible than romantic.

He appears to lack even a nodding acquaintance with passion; he has what has been described as "a soft-sell sex appeal." Unlike his arch rival Vincent Edwards, whose smoldering eyes and sullen manner have made women swoon, this tender young man is more liable to inspire women with an ardent desire to mend his socks.