Originally published in The Saturday Evening Post March 30, 1963
The recipient of more fan mail at MGM than Clark Gable in his prime, Richard Chamberlain courts disaster by merely venturing outside the studio gates. In Baltimore last fall, women beleaguered him in such ravening numbers that the police had to evacuate him to a boat in Chesapeake Bay. In Pittsburgh he required police protection when 250,000 fans mobbed the city’s downtown area during a personal appearance. Girls camp on the doorstep of his two-room bungalow in Hollywood Hills, and it is not uncommon for female fans to waylay him and beg to be taken inside for an examination.
“With a doctor, a woman envisions security, both emotionally and materially,” is the diagnosis of Chamberlain. “But there’s another reason. Kildare looks pure. He is waiting to be taught sin. To women, this is encouraging.”
The Kildare series is the studio’s hottest television property, though Chamberlain frankly is hard-pressed to explain why. He feels that Kildare is an irreclaimable bore.
In the 3,500 letters a week he receives, women open their hearts to him, some discussing intimate medical problems. “You would think this is mail-order gynecology,” says Chamberlain. “My answering service adheres to the ethics of medicine by offering no advice.”
Last September the studio decided to expose Chamberlain to his public for the first time, hardly suspecting the dangers. There followed the riot scenes in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Then he was shipped off to New York, where one day he decided on a quiet stroll through the Central Park Zoo, hoping to go unnoticed in blue jeans, sneakers, and T-shirt. The attire didn’t fool a teenage girl. She screamed. Soon she was joined by a small squealing mob. One girl slipped her class ring on his finger. Others threw scarves at him. Another, undeterred by the trumpeting elephants nearby, rested her head on his back and moaned rapturously, “Oh, doctor.”
—“Doctor Kildare Is a Doll” by Melvin Durslag, March 30, 1963
This article is featured in the January/February 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Featured image: Collection Christophel / Alamy Stock Photo
Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now