More than four decades after he captured women's hearts on television's Dr. Kildare, Richard Chamberlain has decided to reveal his identity as a gay man "because I'm not afraid anymore."
"I'm not a romantic leading man anymore, so I don't need to nurture that public image anymore," the 68-year-old Chamberlain says in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on Dateline NBC. "I can talk about it now because I'm not afraid anymore." The Dateline interview coincides with the publication of Chamberlain's new memoir, Shattered Love, which will be released Tuesday by ReganBooks. Chamberlain starred as television's Dr. James Kildare from 1961 to 1966 and as Father Ralph, a love-torn priest, in the 1983 miniseries The Thorn Birds. He also starred in the 1974 movie The Towering Inferno and the 1980 miniseries Shogun.
"When I grew up, being gay, being a sissy or anything like that, was verboten," says Chamberlain, who lives in Hawaii. "I disliked myself intensely and feared this part of myself intensely and had to hide it."
Now, the actor says, everything is different. On Dateline he talks about his longtime partner, Martin; discusses his upcoming appearance in The Advocate--his first interview with the gay press, scheduled for publication this fall--and remembers his difficult childhood. "I love my life just the way it is," Chamberlain says. "I'm proud of my relationship. I'm actually proud of myself."