Chad Everett and Other Classic TV Doctors: A Look Back

Herbie J Pilato

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[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

[Author’s Note: This article is based on entertainment postings and accredited media reports attributed to the following outlets: The Los Angeles Times, IMDB.com, Wikipedia.com, and Celebsages.com.]

Before Patrick Dempsey played "Dr. Dreamy" on Grey's Anatomy, or George Clooney became Dr. Doug Ross on E.R., doctors on TV were played by iconic actors such as Chad Everett, James Brolin, Richard Chamberlain, and Vince Edwards.

For starters, Chad Everett was a cross between Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, and Ricky Nelson, but somehow Everett, best known as Dr. Joe Gannon from classic TV's Medical Center (CBS, 1969-1976), never became the superstar he should have.

Everett, who succumbed to lung cancer in 2012, was one of the last, if not the last, contract players of the old Hollywood studio system; in this particular case, associated with MGM Studios.

Had he been born ten years earlier, Everett's status in Hollywood may have equaled Gable or Cooper.

As The Los Angeles Times documented at the time of his death, Everett arrived in Hollywood from the Midwest. He was born Raymond Lee Cramton in South Bend, Ind., on June 11, 1937, and grew up in Dearborn, Mich., where his father was a race car driver and racing mechanic. He studied drama at Wayne State University in Detroit.

“I went into acting because I’m easily bored,” Everett told The Los Angeles Times in 1966, several years after he had changed his name for professional reasons. “I had tried — in my own juvenile way — music, football, business with my father. All of them bored me. Acting seemed to give vent to a lot of different feelings.”

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[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

According to IMDB.com, James Brolin is best known for his TV roles such as Dr. Stephen Kiley on Marcus Welby, M.D. (ABC, 1969-1976), alongside Robert Young (from Father Knows Best fame).

Brolin later played Peter McDermott on Hotel (1983-1988), and John Short in Life in Pieces (2015-2019), and his film roles such as Sgt. Jerome K. Weber in Skyjacked (1972), John Blane in Westworld (1973), General Ralph Landry in Traffic (2000), Jack Barnes in Catch Me If You Can (2002) and Emperor Zurg in the 2022 Toy Story spin-off film Lightyear.

Brolin has won two Golden Globes and an Emmy. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 27, 1998. That year, he met and married Barbra Streisand, after divorcing actress Jane Smithers (who had been his wife from 1986 to 1995).

Brolin is the father of actor Josh Brolin. His first wife, Jane, mother to Josh, died in a car crash in 1995. This was devastating to him because after all the turmoil during their divorce, they had become friends.

What many don't know is that Brolin once performed in a screen test for the feature film, Planet of the Apes (1968) as "Cornelius," the chimpanzee scientist later portrayed in the edition of the movie by Roddy McDowall.

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[The Classic TV Preservation Society]

According to Wikipiedia.com, Richard Chamberlain, born March 31, 1934, starred (opposite Raymond Massey) in the lead role of TV's Dr. Kildare (NBC, 1961–1966).

As further documented on Wikipedia.com, Chamberlain later "appeared in several TV mini-series, such as Shōgun (1980) and The Thorn Birds (1983), and was the first to play Jason Bourne in the 1988 made-for-TV movie The Bourne Identity. Chamberlain has also performed classical stage roles and worked in musical theatre.

"Chamberlain co-founded a Los Angeles–based theatre group, Company of Angels, and began appearing in television series in the 1950s. He was cast as Lt. Dave Winslow in "Chicota Landing", a 1960 episode of the series Riverboat.

"In the story, Juan Cortilla, a Mexican bandit played by Joe De Santis, is stormed from jail. Chamberlain, as United States Army Lieutenant Winslow, asks Grey Holden (the lead series character played by Darren McGavin) to transport Cortilla and his men to a military garrison. Instead, Cortilla takes over Holden's vessel and its gunpowder. Connie Hines appears with Chamberlain as Lucy Bridges, and Ted de Corsia is cast as another bandit."

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At the exact time of Chamberlain's success with Dr. Kildare, Vince Edwards (1928-1996), became a TV star by way of the medical drama series Ben Casey (which aired on ABC from 1961-1966).

As chronicled on Celebages.com, Edwards was born Vincent Edward Zoino in New York City, with a twin brother, and was the youngest of seven children. Edwards was a product of the 1920s which, as Celebages.com details, "represented an era of change and growth. The decade was one of learning and exploration. The economic boom and the Jazz Age were over, and America began...the Great Depression." Discover what happened on this day.

As Celebpages further documents, Edwards was "part of the Silent Generation, which followed after the G.I. Generation. As young adults during the McCarthy Era, many members of this generation felt it was dangerous to speak out. They were too young to see action in World War II and too old to participate in the fun of the Summer of Love."

In all, Vince Edwards, Richard Chamberlain, James Brolin, and Chad Everett left their own unique mark on television in portraying charismatic compassionate phyusicians who cared about their patients.

In turn, the TV audience held these actors and their fabricated characters in high regard.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA
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