Cinematheque pays tribute to Chamberlain

LOS ANGELES "I just got my head shots and everything. I got a new agent. I got a new manager and I feel like the new kid in town," said actor /*Richard Chamberlain*/.

The last time Chamberlain was the new kid was back in the early 60s. He became a television superstar as "Dr. Kildare." The fan mail was overwhelming.

"12,000! I think it was 12,000 a week. It was unbelievable," said Chamberlain. "People would say, 'Well, did you answer it all?' No, I answered some."

Now, he will be answering questions from fans Friday and Saturday at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Besides the Q&A, The American Cinematheque is showing three of his films, including "The Music Lovers."

"Well, it was such an amazing experience," said Chamberlain. "Ken Russell is just extraordinary, and this is before he went totally mad with his picture-making. He was kind of on the verge."

Also in the mix is "The Last Wave." This is an early film from director Peter Weir. And "Petulia" which was an experience in and of itself.

"Well, we were working in San Francisco, living in Sausalito on house boats in 1967 when the 'flower power' was, you know, at its height," said Chamberlain. "And everybody was beautiful and everybody was stoned and it was just unbelievable. And working with George C. Scott and Julie Christie was fabulous."

Chamberlain says he loves talking to fans, who during his American Cinematheque Tribute, may very well ask him about his 1980s mini-series, "Shogun." Or they might ask him about his 1983 hit "The Thorn Birds," with Rachel Ward and Barbara Stanwyck.

"I had a naked scene in that with Barbara Stanwyck and I had pumped up and was in pretty good shape for that," said Chamberlain. "She never made a mistake of any kind during the whole shoot. She dropped her lines in this one. She forgot her lines and there was a pause and she said, 'It's been so long since I've stood next to a naked man.' And I thought, 'Oh boy, you know, I turned Barbara Stanwyck on! This is great!'"

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