Interview 32

Dick Diagnoses Dick
His candid answers to 55 probing questions

1. Were you ever in love as a teenager?

Not really. I had my share of girlfriends, but usually just passing "crushes."

2. How about recently?

I date Clara Ray steadily. She's a wonderful singer I met in my singing class. We started dating last November.

3. What was your biggest problem as a teenager?

Probably the feeling that I was very unimportant; and that I dind't mix well in large groups. I also hated to wear braces on my teeth.

4. What actually has been your biggest break to date?

The Kildare Show, and the chance to act with Raymond Massey and other top actors: Joseph Cotten, Mary Astor, Suzanne Pleshette, Joseph Schildkraut.

5. Are you "religious" -what does God mean to you?

I consider myself a religious person. God is something very personal with me and I don't flaunt religion in conversation with others.

6. What is your own best quality?

It's difficult to be objective. Perhaps an actor's best quality is that he have his feet firmly imbedded in granite and have a long-term career plan. That's what I try for.

7. What is your worst fault?

I'm terribly forgetful when it comes to addresses and phone numbers. I used to forget names, but I've overcome that because in this business they are very important.

8. Are you ever, or were you ever, sorry you were born handsome?

"Handsome" means many things to many people. If people consider me handsome, I feel flattered - and have my parents to thank for it. Realistically, it doesn't hurt to be good-looking, especially in this business.

9. What is the highest compliment you ever received?

When my mother saw me on the screen in the Kildare pilot and said "That's not my son." I felt I had really succeeded in becoming the character.

10. What are you sentimental about?

Everything! Girls, animals, Suzanne Pleshette's death scene in Shining Image, on the Kildare show, the Kildare crew, my friends, fan letters from crippled children.

11. Are you impulsive or thorough planning?

I'm impulsive about "doing" things like going to movies, plays, riding or other fun stuff; but in general I plan everything else 'way ahead.

12. Does it ever bother you to be a target for gossip? In what way?

Yes! The idea of tossing in a gossip line to provoke a reaction from other writers or from fans is not only unfair to the personality, but shows what an inept, lazy reporter the write is.

13. What has been your greatest inspiration?

Better "who." I'd say my singing coach, Carolyn Trojanowski; my mother and father; Raymond Massey; my drama coach at Pomona College, Mrs. Prince-House.

14. Who are your best friends today?

For the most part they're the same ones I made in college. However, I have some close pals in the picture business as well, since Kildare.

15. What are your favorite foods?

Blood rare steak, milk, strawberry yougurt.

16. What types of reading do you do?

I like good fiction if I can ever find time to break away from a Kildare script. I spend at least two hours a night on scripts alone.

17. What type of clothes do you prefer?

I like casual stuff. Levis, tennis shoes, T-shirts, sweat-shirts. But I did add some dressy clothes to my wardrobe this year: a tuxedo, a couple of suits, three sport-coats, and most recently, I went on a sweater craze. Like yellow the best.

18. Do you have any pets?

No, but I would like to have a dog or Mynah bird. But I'm never home to take care of a pet.

19. Do you have any real ambition?

To be the best actor possible, using whatever talents I possess. I'd like to do a musical movie some day, play a greasy heavy and perhaps whip up a nightclub act for a tour.

20. What's a perfect night out?

When I can be with a girl, enjoy whatever we set out to see or do, and come away feeling exhilarated.

21. What's a perfect night at home?

Dinner by candlelight – steak, salad, potatoes, wine, with soft, quiet music and perhaps dancing, then going for a walk later and talking.

22. Do you tell little white lies? Any whoppers?

I suppose everyone tells little white lies. Quite often they're necessary to make someone feel better or prevent feelings from being hurt. Whoppers? No, that's dangerous and they'll boomerang.

23. What bores you?

People who talk for the sake of talking – with nothing to say. I admire a good listener, because when he or she says something – you listen.

24. What makes you laugh?

Funny greeting cards; a good joke; Raymond Massey when he "breaks up" on camera; Bob Crane (a Los Angeles disc jockey), our Kildare crew members’ pranks.

25. If you could have been someone else in history, who might that have been?

Alexander The Great, Laurence Olivier.

26. What was the best bit of advice handed to you?

"Be stage-struck, not Chamberlain-struck" (Raymond Massey).

27. Which of your possessions do you treasure the most?

The paintings which hang on my wall at home, done by a close friend from college days.

28. Have you ever been brave?

That's tough to say. What is bravery? I think it's largely when one acts spontaneously before weighing the possibilities of self-injury.

29. What was your most disappointing moment?

I've had many that seemed like a total disaster at the time, but time heals all. When my first series pilot, The Paradise Kid, didn't sell, I felt blue, but its failure led to my testing for Kildare. You can't beat that!

30. What was your most exciting moment?

When producer Norman Felton and director Boris Sagal told me I had won the Kildare role. Also meeting fans for the first time in the Santa Claus Lane parade in Hollywood.

31. Do you remember the circumstances of the first autograph you signed?

Yes. A little girl came up to me at the Hamburger Hamlet, where I eat on the way home, and asked me if I was "that Doctor on TV" and could she have my autograph. Kids are honest. They'll admit it's for themselves. Not so with adults. It's always for someone else.

32. In general, what is your pet peeve?

Pet peeve: phonies in all shapes and sizes. People who "make conversation," and have nothing to say.

33. If you were given a check for a million dollars, what are the first things you’d do with it?

I'd put it in the bank until I gained my sanity, then let a financial expert handle it. I'd give some to the needy; adopt an orphan overseas and send him through school.

34. Do you ever suffer being self-conscious?

Yes, I guess any personality at first feels conspicuous whenever he ventures out into a crowd and has to act "natural." It's hard to get used to hundreds of starring eyes.

35. Actresses claim Hollywood robs them of their privacy. How do you feel about this?

It absolutely does, but any actor who can't adjust to this shouldn’t be in the business or yearn for stardom. He makes his bed and has to lie in it. It's a vital part of success.

36. In what way have you noticed the greatest change about yourself?

I've learned, I think, to be able to distinguish between the necessary and the unnecessary as far as my limited outside time is concerned. Saying "no" politely is a necessity if one wants to lead any kind of stable life.

37. Can you spot a phony?

A mile away. My friends are those who like me for what I am – Dick Chamberlain - not for the aura of stardust that surrounds Kildare.

38. How do you feel about blind dates?

Dangerous and disastrous! It's better to be introduced beforehand and know something about the girl and vice versa. It brings security and self-assurance when you do go out on a date.

39. What are you most sensitive about?

Hurting someone else's feeling's unintentionally; my performance on Kildare, what other actors and people in show business (who KNOW their business) think of my abilities.

40. If you have a choice, which people would you like to be stranded on a desert island with? Please tell why?

Carol Burnett – one of my great pals, a good friend with a great sense of humour and drama. Suzanne Pleshette – a wonderful actress and person. I played my first romantic scene with her, and gave her my first screen kiss.

41. What do you most like bout Hollywood?

It's convenient to the studio! (Sorry for the bad joke). It's close to the beach (surfing), mountains (skiing), desert (riding and shooting), and movies and theatre. Also my friends are here.

42. What do you like least about Hollywood?

It's terribly spread out and you have to drive millions of miles as compared to New York. Since I never go to "wild" Hollywood parties, they don't bother me. I much prefer intimate groups of friends at small dinner parties.

43. Are you extravagant or penny pinching?

When you’ve never had much money and earned little as an actor the first two years, you tend to save your money. However I splurge on things like sweaters, a new car, paintings.

44. Do you worry much? About what?

At times we all worry – and unnecessarily, we find out afterwards. At first, when Kildare shot to the top, I worried that it was a big bubble that might burst, but I’ve lost that fear now.

45. How do you control your moods and temper- or do you?

I do have a temper, but of all things one should control- that's it! I usually go into my dressing room, close the door and yell at the wall.

46. Do you admire any star enough to pattern your life and career in similar fashion?

I pattern my actions and life after what I want. No two people are alike. You might admire attributes in others, but use these only as a guide in improving yourself in your own unique way. I don't go for carbon copies. Individualism is sacred!

47. Do you ever get stage fright?

You bet! Every time I have to appear on a live TV show, or make a personal appearance. Bit I think this is good for a performer – keeps him on the ball. Nervousness, I think, makes one much sharper brain-wise.

48. What was your most frightening experience?

My first acting interview for a Gunsmoke episode. I read badly and didn't make the world's greatest impression- but I got the role and handled myself better from then on.

49. What are you laziest about?

Sleeping! I need at least eight to ten hours a day to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed for work.

50. How do you handle unsolicited advice?

I consider the source. If they know what they’re talking about I usually listen and decide for myself.

51. Do you trust friends with your "secrets"?

Nothing is secret once you tell anyone. If you want to keep it quiet – don't tell a soul.

52. What was the worst lie ever told about you that you found out about afterwards?

I can't remember off-hand, but in most cases a lie will find itself back to you and tarnish your reputation. And your reputation is the most important asset in life.

53. Are discouraged?

Sometimes temporarily, when I couldn't get jobs at first. But if I'd let it bug me, I wouldn't have had the gumption to go on. Aspiration and determination – use them when you get down in the dumps.

54. Who was your worst enemy, the person who made life toughest for you, even for one day?

Probably the sergeant who inducted me into the Army!

55. What was your fist date like, and with whom?

A girl named Joan when I was in the tenth grade at Beverly Hills High. I had no car and my dad drove us to the show and picked us up afterwards. It was pretty embarrassing to go through, but I lived to tell about it.