Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

SHATTERED LOVE: A MEMOIR Richard Chamberlain

SHATTERED LOVE: A MEMOIR. Richard Chamberlain. ReganBooks; 2003.

TV's "Dr. Kildare" writes about his life and philosophy of living in this disappointing memoir. While Chamberlain does write interestingly of career highlights such as Shogun, The Thornbirds [with Barbara Stanwyck], appearing on Broadway in My Fair Lady -- he's had a much more interesting career than people might imagine -- he spends too much time gassing off in psychobabble (and I do mean babble) style about new age religion. Just when you're getting interested in some aspect of his professional or personal life -- his reaction when he was "outed" while still being immersed in self-hatred -- off he goes on a tiresome jaunt on the nature of God and such. It's as if Chamberlain, recognizing that he was essentially a good-looking, totally self-absorbed  actor, had to go to all sorts of people for help in getting over himself. He may not even understand that most people don't need to go through all of this just to become more decent human beings. More anecdotes about his early days in television, background on a few more movies, would have been welcome. Chamberlain writes how an older actor told him he became a star before he learned how to act, but this is belied by a Bourbon Street Beat episode -- pre- Dr. Kildare -- in which he gives an excellent performance in only his third credit. He makes no mention of this show and indeed gets through Dr. Kildare in only a few pages. The show lasted for five seasons -- surely there were many more interesting episodes and guest-stars than Gloria Swanson? Nowadays too many celebrities don't just want to give you inside stories of their days in Hollywood, but feel a need to be some kind of guru to the reader. Too bad. After the book was published Chamberlain had a good role on Brothers and Sisters and is still working today.

Verdict: Some good passages nearly lost in a sea of psycho-babble. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Sounds like this will not be as good a read as, say, Tab Hunter's memoir a few years back, which I really enjoyed. But as a big fan, I will have to give it a read. I actually saw Mr. Chamberlain onstage at the Geffen theater in L.A. back in 2012, where he played opposite Brooke Shields in a stage production of The Exorcist--in the title role of Father Merrin!!.

William said...

That sounds like an interesting evening at the theater! Yes, Tab Hunter's bio was much more entertaining, and now they've done a documentary based on it which I'll have to check out.