Millions of women fell in love with him. In this Ralph de Bricassart. In this beautiful, sensitive man who has a tragic, because forbidden, love story with the lovely niece of a landowner, who has a child by him. Which shouldn’t be the case at all, because Ralph wears a conspicuous white round collar under his black gown: He is a Catholic priest.

That’s exactly what gives him his forbidden appeal, and that’s exactly what many women love about him. And so Ralph de Bricassart from the romantic novel adaptation “The Thorn Birds” became a cult figure adored around the world in the mid-80s. The four-part TV series had sensational ratings in the USA and Europe (21 million in Germany alone), the female audience was blown away by the priest, who ultimately fell apart because of his love for the good Lord and the beautiful Meggie.

The huge success was mainly due to the US actor Richard Chamberlain (90), who played the clergyman in the conflict of his feelings very convincingly and thus became an international cult figure. It was the role of a lifetime.

Although this all happened a few decades ago, it remains unforgotten. On March 31st, Easter Sunday and the highest church holiday, Richard Chamberlain will be 90 years old.

He was born in sunny California, Los Angeles. The film mecca of Hollywood is noticeable everywhere; many young people want to become actors, including Richard Chamberlain. However, he was too shy and therefore studied art at the renowned Pomona College, where he also tried out for the student stage.

Then in 1956 the draft notice came, the young Chamberlain had to join the army and completed his military service in East Asia (South Korea). After two years he returned to the USA.

First he tried painting, then he overcame his shyness and took singing and acting lessons. And he was successful: in 1961 he got the title role in the TV series “Dr. Kildare” and played a young doctor in 191 episodes who performs medical miracles in his clinic.

Thanks to the polite and empathetic, always somewhat feminine-looking Dr. Kildare became Richard Chamberlain’s heartthrob, especially since he also sang the title song and made it into the charts. He consolidated his success as a singer with the songs “All I Have to Do Is Dream” and “They Long to Be Close to You”, the latter of which later became a worldwide hit thanks to the Carpenters.

In 1968 he went to England, took acting lessons again and appeared as Hamlet in a theater in Birmingham. The positive reviews encouraged him to continue on this path. So he became a serious actor in England, got the lead role in the 1970 film “Tchaikovsky – Genius and Madness”, and from 1973 played with Michael York, Oliver Reed and Raquel Welch in the films “The Three Musketeers” and “The Four Musketeers – The Milady’s Revenge” and made the musical film “Cinderella’s Silver Shoe”.

He had made a name for himself and got theater roles on Broadway in New York as well as an offer for the blockbuster “Flaming Inferno” alongside Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden and Fay Dunaway. Afterwards he was in the front row of stars and took on the leading role in “The Count of Monte Cristo” and finally in the TV series “Shogun”.

In 1983, “The Thorn Birds” was filmed with him. Richard Chamberlain was at the height of his fame, which brought him the Golden Globe (which he also received for “Dr. Kildare” and “Shogun”).

Then international sensationalism got to him badly; in 1989, the French women’s magazine “Nous deux” was the first media to report that the womanizer Richard Chamberlain wasn’t that into women and was gay. The actor was both horrified and desperate and is said to have had suicidal thoughts, as this revelation had a huge social impact at the time.

Chamberlain feared for his career and was afraid that he would no longer get good roles in Hollywood. In 1991 he fled to the front: in an interview he came out as homosexual. At this point, he had already been living in Hawaii since the early 80s with his partner and manager Martin Rabbett in a paradisiacal house in the mountains with a view of Waikiki Beach and the Honolulu skyline.

In 2003, Chamberlain once again commented on his sexuality in detail in his biography “Shattered Love” and wrote: “I was tired of the hide-and-seek game.” It was as if an angel had laid a hand on him and said, “You’re okay the way you are.”

In 2011, according to US media reports, he said in an interview on US television: “I grew up in the 30s, 40s and 50s when being gay was absolutely unthinkable. It was the worst thing that could happen to you. So I pretended like I was someone else.” He has built an entire career on staging the sexual opposite and playing women’s lovers.

Richard Chamberlain has been living in Los Angeles again since the beginning of 2010, he lives in West Hollywood. He is no longer together with Martin Rabbett; the two separated when Chamberlain returned to California.

He toured the USA with the musical “My Fair Lady” and as “King Arthur” in “Spamalot”, and had guest appearances in TV series such as “Desperate Housewives”, “Leverage”, “Brothers and Sisters” and “Twin Peaks”. He starred in the horror film “Nightmare Cinema” and the mystery drama “Finding Julia”. And in the war film “Echoes of the Past” (about the Kalavryta massacre by the German Wehrmacht in Greece in 1943) he had a small role at the age of 88.

He is committed to a clean environment, sleeps eight hours a day, eats healthily and enjoys his “wonderful peace” now that everyone knows that he was once a world-famous womanizer who only loved men.