Skip to comments.Richard Chamberlain Has Been Married For Twenty Years (To a Guy)
Posted on 05/30/2003 7:58:18 PM PDT by dogbyte12
Richard Chamberlain sure knows how to keep a secret. He's a master at it. In the public eye for over 40 years, he has been defined almost entirely by his roles. On screen he was this devastatingly handsome heartthrob, the star of Dr. Kildare and the dreamy king of such exotic miniseries as Shogun and The Thorn Birds. Yet Chamberlain remained a distant figure whose private life was always off-limits. Until now.
In an interview with TV Guide, Chamberlain admits that he's gay and that almost 20 years ago he wed another man, Martin Rabbett, who is now his manager. They met in 1975 when Chamberlain, then 41, was starring in the Tennessee Williams play The Night of the Iguana. Rabbett was a production assistant 19 years his junior. On the eve of the publication of Shattered Love: A Memoir (ReganBooks), Chamberlain, now 69, talks about his fear that knowledge of his sexual orientation would ruin his career. It is the first time a romantic leading man of his stature has ever outed himself. But in doing so, Chamberlain says he is finally at peace.
When you were on Dr. Kildare, you were a romantic hero and hiding the fact that you were gay. Were you afraid people would find out?
Desperately afraid. I used to get chased by hot teenage girls. I got 12,000 fan letters a week. And all the fan magazines would ask me about my love life. And I felt somewhat besieged. But I was good at the game. I felt my career depended on a certain image.
Were you ever able to talk to your parents about it? Never once. Not in my whole life.
Anybody in Hollywood?
No. But it was assumed that I was gay. I remember going to see a comedian who worked on our show maybe he didn't know I was there and he made a joke about "Dr. Kildare, that blond faygeleh." Whoa. Was I shocked.
After Kildare went off the air, you went into a funk.
I realized I was just another out-of-work actor. So [the musical] Breakfast at Tiffany's came along. I had a great time until we were on Broadway. The audience just hated it. I had a line, "Oh, I'll never sing again." And voices came back, "Good. You can't sing, anyway." And then people would go up the aisles and leave the theater.
Luckily, you found the miniseries. Tell me about Shogun.
The network wanted me, but James Clavell [the author of the novel] didn't. He wanted Sean Connery. So I started taking voice lessons to get a lower tone and I put six T-shirts under my shirt because I wanted to look bulkier [for the first meeting with Clavell]. It was so hot I was sweating like a pig. But I got on with April, Clavell's wife, and Clavell relented and gave me the part.
In your book, you say the character you identify with a great deal is Father Ralph, the priest in The Thorn Birds.
My public image, my private life and then my spiritual concerns made me realize that we had something in common.
In fact, it was after a spiritual retreat that you met Martin.
The minute I saw him, I thought, "There is someone special." But it wasn't until Night of the Iguana played [on Broadway] that we got into a love relationship.
How many years have you been together?
Twenty-six. I can't imagine how Martin had the guts to live with me because my career was everything. There was no one I would have thrown my career over for. And he knew it.
What are you up to now?
I am doing a play this summer, The Stillborn Lover, which Martin is directing at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.
Can you sum up your career?
I had looks, talent, ambition. And yet I was afraid of relying on myself Marlon Brando could rely on himself. I didn't want to be seen as even remotely gay. Remember, I grew up in the '30s, '40s and '50s, when being effeminate was verboten. I ingested all of this. I was as homophobic as anyone else.
When did you get over it?
I've only dropped the last vestiges of that, like, three months ago. And I'm practically stepping into my grave.
"Wow, I never realized how much Shepard Smith looks like a young Richard Chamberlain!"
"Wow, Shepard Smith and Richard Chamberlain look a lot alike, except Chamberlain is much older!"
"Wow, you know who that picture of young Richard Chamberlain reminds me of? Shepard Smith!"
Are we perfectly clear now? Any more questions? Did I get that ol' message across well enough? All ambiguity taken care of? Need any further clarification?
The haole. Anginsan. The Pilot. The English sea captain.
I've figured it for years but still love his acting. I could watch Shogun over and over. He shows up on public service ads occasionally here (Hawaii). Lives over on the leeward shore, sort of the Rio Linda of Oahu, though I imagine his digs are a bit pricier than the majority of those with cars up on blocks.
Ho Hum! :-)
At first I thought the same thing. But actually, Rock never admitted he was a homosexual. He just died of Aids, and then it was revealed, although is certainly was no secret.
Ummmm.......if memory serves, that would be Dutch, not English.