'The Thorn Bird' Richard Chamberlain celebrates 90 years

Richard Chamberlain was about to turn 50, in 1983, when he played the role of his life, that of the priest Ralph de Bricassart.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
30 March 2024 Saturday 10:25
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'The Thorn Bird' Richard Chamberlain celebrates 90 years

Richard Chamberlain was about to turn 50, in 1983, when he played the role of his life, that of the priest Ralph de Bricassart. Dressed in a cassock, he fell in love with an audience from half the world, including Meggi Cleary (the character played by Rachel Warz) in The Thorn Bird, the miniseries of only four episodes that made television history (it premiered in Spain in 1985). For some time now, the actor has been wearing Hawaiian shirts and leading a quiet life, far from Hollywood, in his luxurious home in Hawaii, where he will celebrate his 90th birthday today.

Initially, the adaptation of the novel by writer Colleen McCullough, about the forbidden love between an ambitious priest, who became a cardinal, and a young woman, a friend of his family, was going to be a film. For the role of Ralph de Bricassart, the names of Christopher Reeve, Robert Redford and Ryan O'Neal were considered. But when it was finally decided to change the film into a miniseries, the chosen one was Richard Chamberlain. At that time he was quite well known on television thanks to Dr. Kildare, Centennial and Shogun.

But none of those works were comparable to the popularity of The Thorn Bird. That was the character of his life, and at the same time his last great work. From then on she only played supporting roles (Desperate Housewives) or low-budget films like King Solomon's Mines, alongside Sharon Stone in one of her first performances.

In the mid-eighties he left Los Angeles – where he was born – and settled permanently in Hawaii, a place he had visited frequently since the early seventies. The reason for this change of residence was to be able to lead his private life discreetly.

In 2003, Chamberlain published his memoirs Shattered Love in which he revealed a childhood and adolescence marked by his father's alcoholism and confessed his homosexuality (although it was an open secret). In the sixties she was dating several women, but in the early seventies she began a relationship with actor Wesley Eure (72). In 1977 she met another actor, Martin Rabbet (70), with whom she later worked in King Solomon's Mines. They married in Hawaii and separated in 2010 after 33 years together.

Chamberlain continues to live in the archipelago. There are no photos of him nor has he made any statements since just three years ago when he gave a report to Hi Luxury magazine in which he talked about his life philosophy based on love: “It's not just something we do. In reality, it is the presence of wisdom, connection and plenitude that you can invite into your life,” he said in the interview, and pointed out that his good physical condition is due to exercise, a healthy diet, eight hours of sleep and practicing of croquet.