Richard Chamberlain: “I Want To Swim Drink Gamble And Make Love”
He rolled the words around on his tongue, as if the slab of rare beef on his luncheon plate couldn’t possibly satisfy the new hunger in him. “I could use a few weeks of real high living,” Dick Chamberlain confessed. If lie was conscious of shattering his image—that bowlful of salt-free Pablum that has been his for the last two years—he was enjoying it.
“First stop—Acapulco,” he decided, visibly warming to the subject of Mr. Squeaky Clean Takes a Vacation.
Right in the midst of M-G-M’s noisy commissary, he transported himself on the wings of his imagination to the uninhibited land of anything-goes. His muscles rippled as his lithe body, bronzed by the hot Mexican sun, slashed through the urgent surf. He heard the rattle of dice and his palms felt the clank of chips. The sparkle of champagne and a woman’s eyes stirred his blood to a roar.
“I could take about ten days of that,” he exploded. “Then—New York.”
Now a different kind of excitement and mood took hold, as the skyblue eyes looked beyond another horizon. “See all the plays there are. Go to all the nightclubs.”
He sighed with sheer rapture. “Just to walk the streets and feel the city’s throb. That place is my spiritual home. A few uninterrupted weeks after Acapulco, just strolling around New York. That’s heaven.”
He brought himself back to earth and the reality of lunch in the commissary with remarkable ease. But his new image—was this the real one? Or what?
Talking like shivers
“Dick Chamberlain.” a teen-age sophisticate told her mother with a casual shrug not too long ago, “is the boy you want to marry.”
The shrug, as she conjured up Vince Edwards as contrast, turned to a hot shiver that made her mother’s blood a little cold. “Vince Edwards is the man you have an affair with.”
Now, today, this boy-next-door type that brought back into style the nice guy who never gets into any trouble was talking like shivers, not shrugs. For the first time, Dick was talking of drinking, gambling, carousing.
It raises a big question. Was Dick too good to be true? Or was he just too busy to be anything but good?
The answer suddenly seems self-evident. He now seems ready to be too true to be good, as the pressures of the last two years—the sudden stardom, the hard work to stay there, the tightrope walk to maintain his balance in the overwhelming success—turn his thoughts to The Vacation.
He’s ready, but not able. Not right now. He’s in no hurry. He’s learned that his dreams not only can but do come true, life-size. So it’s no big deal, he can wait.
Right now he has the challenge of his soon-to-be-released first starring motion picture. He’s preparing to cut his second album—and his teeth on a new singing style.
He still has all those lessons, almost every night—singing, dancing, coaching.
Mostly, he’s up to here with the new “Dr. Kildare” series.
“I got a promotion this year,” he announced proudly—Dr. Kildare’s pride shining through his own. “I’ve made resident physician. I feel far less persecuted than in the last two years.”
Most important, though, Dick in his own life is exuding a confidence and sureness that belies the shyness of his beginnings. Along with the confidence, he’s acquiring a healthy appetite for wine, women, and song. He’s decided that Jack’s not the only one who can get a little dull around the edges with all work and no play. Dick can, too. But now that he’s sure he can keep both feet on the success foundation—he’s ready to take some walks along the other well-paved roads of good living.
It’s off with Clara
The first major turnoff—and the biggest news—is the detour of his relationship with the vibrant, vivacious singer, Clara Ray—his steady for a long time.
“We’re still seeing each other,” Dick revealed. “But not the steady thing anymore. We both decided we’d be better off if we started dating other people at this time in our lives.”
He’s gotten off to an all-fire hot start. Jane Fonda’s about as good a beginning as any man could expect. “I’ve taken Jane out a few times.” he grinned. “She’s great. I get the feeling that she’s got many personalities and that I’ve only seen a couple—so far.”
And sometime soon—if it hasn’t already—a phone will ring in the home of an actress who appeared in Dick’s series and she’ll be asked for a date. She’ll be a mystery girl until then, however.
“No, I won’t say who,” he asserted. “If I told you now and she said no later, I’d feel foolish. Wait till she says, I hope, yes.”
Now that he’s expanding his girl-world, Dick will be faced with where to go to be alone.
“The fans are great. I love them. Where would we all be without them? But it does get a bit tense sometimes when you want to be alone,” he said with complete candor.
“Or you think you do,” he added, as a funny incident occurred to him. “I always thought I shouldn’t go to the beach, which I love, because it would attract too much attention. Well, one day, a date and I thought we’d try, anyhow. We found a spot that seemed isolated at a place in Santa Monica. It was. Only one person came up to us all day. You know what? It was a little disappointing.”
No longer girl-shy, Dick is marriage-shy—for a while anyway. “Maybe in three or four years.” he suggested, “when I’m of age.”
But he entered wholeheartedly into the game of “The Girl that I Marry Will Have to Be. . . .”
“She should be reasonably pretty. Reasonably young. And very intelligent,” he has decided, adding hastily: “As long as she isn’t more intelligent than I am.”
A more definite and surprising requirement for the elusive Mrs. Chamberlain-to-be: a professional. “I’d like to marry someone in the business. My work is my way of life and my wife would have to be part of that life. It would even be fun working together occasionally, like a play—so we could actually live in New York, hopefully for a year, critics willing.” Sounds like he’s got it all thought out.
Dick’s expanding out beyond just girls—he’s got a hunger for new friends. “I suddenly discovered that all my old friends had scattered all over the globe, and there aren’t many left around. I want and need new friends.”
He calls it his campaign—but it’s nothing as formal as placing want ads. “If I want new friends, I learned I have to make the effort to meet them. Just thinking about it seems to work. I have two new friends already—a doctor and his wife; and an actor and his wife look like they may be soon, too.”
New girls and new friends have turned Dick from a recluse in his hut on the Hollywood hill into a genial host. “I gave my first party just a little while ago,” he revealed. “I think everyone had a good time. They didn’t go home until five in the morning. It was real simple—a lot of booze and apples, cheese—that sort of thing.”
Actually, Dick never felt like a recluse. “I didn’t have much time before. I live up in the hills, not really to get away from people, but because I like it. I thought people might not want to make it up there, but after my landlady told me a couple of fans had found it—I figured my friends could do as well, especially with directions.”
And his do-it-yourself bachelor housekeeping program obviously left much to be desired. Though he takes masculine pride in picking up occasionally, lie’s bowed to his new demands as host. “I finally hired a cleaning woman,” he confessed. “She comes in twice a month. And you know, it makes a difference, after all.”
Those traffic tickets
Dick is expanding out all over and enjoying every zestful minute of it—save one. His first attempt to hatch out of the squeaky-clean shell backfired into headlines that disturbed him deeply.
Specifically, his brush with the traffic courts, following acquisition of his first real extravagance since becoming a star—his souped-up blue Corvette. He makes no denial about receiving the controversial traffic citations, but he is visibly shaken by what he believes was the exaggeration that followed. And even more disturbed by having to appear before a judge in a court of law.
“I don’t like being lied about. No one does. And I don’t like deception of any kind.” His past record proves the sincerity of his words. “I did get two tickets in one week. But both were for going something like forty-six miles in a thirty-five mile zone, not reckless driving on the freeways. That part started when the judge decided to punish the two violations by banning me from the freeways, not because I got the tickets on them.”
Shuddering, he added quietly: “I almost didn’t need that. Being in court was punishment enough. It was a weird, terrible feeling. I didn’t feel like me. I didn’t feel as if I belonged there.”
Depression ill becomes Dick; constructive lessons out of every experience are more up his alley. “I learned something from that, though. It brought home the tremendous responsibility attached to driving a car. I don’t think I’ll forget it very soon.”
Probably the most visible outward sign of the new confident, contented Dick Chamberlain are in the very words—and the numbers of them—that he now reels out.
His first two years as a star were characterized by a few monosyllables as his best answers to the perennial questions. His brevity was quickly translated as shyness.
“Actually,” a close associate explained, “it wasn’t as much shyness as the fact that Dick couldn’t conceive of anyone being interested in any answers he might give. Now he knows better and lie’s learned to enjoy talking.”
His ease at an interview is revealing a sharp wit, keen brain and mostly a zest for living and appreciation for everything around him. His alleged timidity has also turned out to be a cool head.
“Dick is cooperative, friendly, willing to learn—certainly,” the associate continued. “But anyone who gets the idea that he can be pushed into doing something lie’s not ready for is in for a shock. Dick listens to advice but he makes up his own mind, in his own good, sweet time.”
He’s a thinking man
Dick himself says of his cool, quiet approach: “I wouldn’t know how to throw a fit. I’d feel silly even trying. You can accomplish much more by getting anger out of your system by yourself—alone—and then meeting each problem with logic.”
He’s applying that same logical approach to his personality expansion, also. Sure, lie’s ready for fun and laughs, girls and new friends. But not at the expense of the career or the man. His ambition to grow in his profession and his manhood is so steady that the Rock of Gibraltar will quiver like jelly before Dick does.
“I like and want a good time. I’m no different than anyone else. I intend to have it. Except I’ll do my living it up, I hope, with discretion.”
Underlying the comment is his feeling for the stars—his contemporaries—who couldn’t handle all that came on them. They burn themselves out like shooting stars—ending like all meteorites do—in oblivion.
“It’s a pity some stars go ape in public,” he said with his quiet firmness. “Don’t get me wrong. Everyone has a right to go ape. All you have to do is to go to a suburban party on a Saturday night. We do have a responsibility, though. Not only to our fans, but to the industry, the people we work with and, most of all, ourselves.”
Dick may start swinging—but it won’t be from the nearest tree. It will be from the nearest star—his own. And have a ball doing it—step-by-step.
—BY CHRIS L. CLEERS
Dick’s first starring film role will be “Twilight of Honor,” M-G-M. You can also see him on “Dr. Kildare,” Thursday nights from 8:30-9:30 EST, NBC-TV.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE DECEMBER 1963