Celebrity Then And Now
Richard Chamberlain
Name: Richard Chamberlain
Birthdate: March 31, 1934
Famous Years: 1960-Present
Currently Known For: Twin Peaks
Networth: $20 MillionFamous For: Dr. Kildare, Shogun, The Bourne Identity
Richard Chamberlain
Name Richard Chamberlain
Birthdate March 31, 1934
Famous Years 1960-Present
Currently Known For Twin Peaks
Networth $20 Million
Famous For Dr. Kildare, Shogun, The Bourne Identity

Many of us younger movie fans will always tend to associate the character of Jason Bourne with actor Matt Damon. However, many might not know that it wasn’t that much longer before Damon took on the character that Bourne was already portrayed on screen. Back in 1988, Bourne was played by Richard Chamberlain, a man who’s had a career that’s spanned nearly 60 years in Hollywood. The reason that many people didn’t realize that Bourne already had one actor attached to the character is because the original “Bourne Identity” film was made for television, and TV films is where Chamberlain has kept busy for many years.

Chamberlain grew up in the shadow of the Hollywood hills, being born on March 31, 1934 in Beverly Hills, and spent his entire youth in the Los Angeles area. After he had graduated from high school in the early 1950s, Chamberlain would attend Pomona College where he became part of a theater group that helped him land his first acting roles on television. The first of which was “Chicota Landing”, but it wasn’t until 1961 that Chamberlain got his big break.

That year, Chamberlain would land the title role of the NBC series “Dr. Kildare” that lasted for nearly 200 episodes throughout the 1960s. At the same time, Chamberlain had been making waves due to his singing, as he had released singles that would make their way toward the top of the Billboard charts such as “Three Stars Will Shine Tonight”. After the show had come to an end, Chamberlain focused more on stage for a few years, but would return to film in the 1970s.

Some of his biggest hits of the decade would include “The Count of Monte Cristo”, “The Towering Inferno” and “The Slipper and the Rose”. Eventually, Chamberlain would earn a reputation as being the go-to actor for TV films, which extended into the 1980s, including that role in “The Bourne Identity”. His TV films would earn him several Golden Globe and Emmy nominations, though his sole Golden Globe win came from his “Dr. Kildare” days up until 1983 when he won for “The Thorn Birds”.

If you’re a fan of the “Indiana Jones” series, you might also recognize Chamberlain from a pair of the films that are sort of a satire on the movies. The first of which was “King Solomon’s Mines” in 1985, which was followed up by “Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold” which released the next year. While clearly not as successful as the source material, it was a nice way for Chamberlain to branch out into something a little more lighthearted.

In the new millennium, Chamberlain would make headlines when he confirmed a report from the late 1980s that he was gay, something that he hadn’t wanted to reveal for years. Chamberlain wanted to confirm on his own terms, releasing an autobiography called “Shattered Love”. “I spent most of my life pretending to be something else,” he said. “Which is no great way to live.”

Looking back at his book, Chamberlain said “It was during the course of writing...that all this past fear, self doubt and feeling of unworthiness and everything just vanished. It absolutely vanished.” He now encourages others to live more comfortably in their own skin, saying “I suddenly realized we were talking about something - being gay or straight - that was a non issue. These terms don’t tell you anything about the person they’re applied to, whether they’re good or bad, smart or dumb, kind or cruel. It doesn’t tell you anything important about the person, and I suddenly realized I had been living in fear for an awfully long time for no reason at all.”

After appearing in “The Perfect Family” in 2011, it had been a while since Chamberlain was seen on the big screen. He was featured as a voice in the superhero film “Justice League: Gods and Monsters”, and made his return to film in 2018 with “Nightmare Cinema”. The film was an independent one that didn’t have a large release, and he starred alongside the likes of Mickey Rourke and Patrick Wilson in the film.

TV films, which were once the bread and butter for Chamberlain, haven’t been nearly as frequent in the past 20 years. In fact, the only one in which he’s appeared in since 1997 was “Blackbeard” in 2006. Since 2011, the only TV appearance he’s made at all was in an episode of the “Twin Peaks” revival in 2017. With that said, Chamberlain hasn’t completely retired from acting, but has taken on fewer roles at 84 years old.

That doesn’t mean that Chamberlain is feeling his age these days. “My family seemed to stay in reasonably good shape,” he said. “I try to get my eight (hours of sleep) and I’ve always felt that exercising was important...Vanity rules my life, so I’m highly motivated to maintain.” As for his acting, he says he’s not “really acting anymore,” but if the right role comes along, he’s willing to come out of a semi-retirement.