My first Richard

[Most photos in this post courtesy of RichardChamberlain.net]

goran-visnjic[Left: Goran Visnjic as Luka Kovac. Photo: NBC]

Richard Armitage was my first severe celebrity crush, at the age of almost forty-two. I had a brief fascination with Goran Visnjic, in the days when I lived in a place where NBC was the only available terrestrial television station and I watched ER quasi-religiously. The Internet was younger then (1999ish) and there were two or three contentious fansites and one “Lukafic” fanfic site (“Degrees of Freedom” was my favorite story ever). There was even Kovac / Carter slash. Goran Visnjic-love was severely inhibited — for me — by the fact that half of everything he’d been in and a similar proportion of his press was available only in Croatian, a language inaccessible to me even with a dictionary. But I love a damaged hero, and I loved Luka Kovac to death. Visnjic was particularly effective in the scenes where Kovac remembers the horrendous destruction of his family during the siege of Sarajevo. I lost track of him and ER after I moved to a city with television reception in 2001, though I saw him in The Deep End (2002) and ran into him again briefly in Helen (2009), a truly beautiful movie that stars a favorite of mine, Ashley Judd.

Richard Chamberlain - kildare[Right: Richard Chamberlain as Dr. Kildare]

Before that, however, if I want to look to my history of male actor crushes, I have to reach back to when I was eleven, to “my first” Richard. Richard Chamberlain. No, I’m much too young to have fallen in love with him in Dr. Kildare, which ran from 1961-66 (that was a little too late for my mom, who married in the spring of ’61, but even so still years before I was even born!). I’ve never seen a single episode of it, although people have told me it’s horrid. I can’t imagine, anyway, that I’d ever have felt any attraction to such an unbelievably clean cut actor. Servetus loves her some scruff.

Rather, I fell in love with Richard Chamberlain in the fall of 1980, when he appeared in one of the first big blockbuster television miniseries, which were really popular in the late 70s (Jesus of Nazareth is the first I remember). Networks ran a solid month of advertising to make sure we’d clear space in the calendar for a whole week of evenings. It was still a few years before the VHS player / recorder, which was just beginning to be sold in Japan, became affordable to the masses. In fact, I remember missing most of the Wednesday episode because we always went to church on Wednesday night, and not seeing it until a rebroadcast on public television in the 1980s, something else I associate a fateful memory with.

images[Left: Publicity still of Richard Chamberlain as John Blackthorne, ca. 1980. I’d forgotten this picture, but it reminds of someone else. Now you know why I like the beard so much.]

The series was Shogun — you may remember it, or the eponymous novel by James Clavell that it adapted. It retells part of the frequently novelized story of a historical English sailor, Will Adams, who was shipwrecked in Japan in the very early seventeenth century. The novel’s hero, John Blackthorne (played by Chamberlain), a stranger in a strange land, becomes inadvertently embroiled in the politics of the emerging shogunate of Lord Toranaga (in history: Tokugawa Ieyasu, played by Toshiro Mifune) even as he falls in love with an unattainable woman, Mariko (Yoko Shimada).

0700_fr[Right: Toshiro Mifune with Richard Chamberlain on the Shogun set.]

The series won a number of awards, as did Chamberlain. It was a typical piece of early 1980s tv, I think, made when audiences still watched tv for its art. It punched above its weight with a very ambitious story that was much too long and complicated even for the time it was given; actors were cast — especially Mifune, Shimada — who were much better than the material they were given; an attempt was made to give it artistic credibility with voiceovers by Orson Welles and a score by Maurice Jarre (notable enough musically that my high school wind symphony played it at a concert a few years later); and gorgeous, for the U.S. viewer at the time “exotic,” landscapes.

And the show — and the accompanying crush on Richard Chamberlain — made a strong impact on my life. Not as big as Armitagemania, but that’s asking a lot (smiles). I, like many viewers of the show, participated in the sudden Japan craze of the early 80s that responded to the show. In my case, that meant reading everything I could about Japan in the library, becoming a sort of mini-expert, creating for myself what I imagined was a samurai-like outfit by altering a pair of mom’s lounging pajamas from her Hawaii days, and trying out what I thought were Japanese recipes. I got mom to teach me how to eat with chopsticks. (Though I only got to try sushi once I got to college.) I wrote a “report” on Japan for school and got an A+ and the paper was displayed in the school’s case of especially good student work that month. I even learned some Japanese vocabulary which I tried out to humorous effect on an exchange student a year or two later. I read everything else that James Clavell had written — the first historical novels I loved. My favorite was probably Noble House (1988), although his early novel, King Rat (1962), made a big impression on me as well.

mtG58rVk6Ze4DAVu65QfkgwAnd I fell in love with Richard Chamberlain. Remember, of course, that it was 1980, and we didn’t have VHS at home. Chamberlain had made a number of swashbuckling, musketeer movies in the 1970s, which I watched when they were broadcast on television. When he appeared in a new miniseries, as he did repeatedly in the 80s, with The Thorn Birds (1983), Wallenberg (1985), and Dream West (1986), I made time, and I saw the not-very-good Quatermain movies in the theater when they came out. But the kind of quick access to information about a celebrity that we enjoy today wasn’t dreamt of then, so at the time I had a crush on him, I never knew all that much about Chamberlain the person. When he was in something new, I went to the library and used babysitting money to pay to make photocopies of articles about him in popular magazines. Once in a while, I bought a magazine itself. The main one I remember owning is People. When I went to college, in 1987, everything changed, and I lost track of Chamberlain. But I kept that issue for years, well into college and after.

0[Left: Chamberlain as Father Ralph with Rachel Ward as Meggie in Thorn Birds. Screen cap?]

As an eleven-year-old, I was absolutely enthralled by Chamberlain. I fell deeply into the crush, and even deeper after I saw him as Father Ralph in The Thorn Birds. I’d only been kissed once then, behind the oak tree on the school playground by my elementary-school boyfriend, Brian, and the feelings I got from that were nothing like ones that overwhelmed me when Ralph stopped fighting his vow of celibacy and slept with Meggie on that vacation island. Chamberlain was tall, strong, gorgeous — and something else. Something that appealed to me deeply as an almost- and then, adolescent.

I watched Shogun again for the first time in almost two decades during the summer of 2012. I’m sure the way it fell down from the shelf while I was looking for something mom wanted to watch was no coincidence. I found it on DVD in the library, and I put it in the player evenings after leaving mom at the hospital. If nothing else, the positive feelings I still associate with the crush offered me a bit of comfort at the time. Watching it, I smiled a bit at my younger self. Seen from my perspective as an adult, both the love story (man loves woman who’s married to someone else in a situation where infidelity means death!) and the political intrigue (stranded white guy plays decisive role at the center of vital historical and political events in the East!) are conspicuously trite and entirely predictable.

hqdefaultBut I can also see exactly what must have drawn me in as a girl. First, there’s the “stranger in a strange land” theme — something I often felt. As Blackthorne experiences more of Japan, he becomes more and more foreign to his fellow sailors, even though he also continues to feel foreign in Japan. Second, there was the thrill of experiencing the unknown and the exotic. I remember particularly enjoying the scenes where Blackthorne is trying to learn Japanese. So, again, as with Mr. Thornton and Richard Armitage, my primary identifications with Chamberlain’s character here were ones I made between myself and the protagonist. In the first place, I dreamt of being Blackthorne and replayed his scenes and dilemmas in my head at night for months.

19800922-750-98[Left: Richard Chamberlain in 1980]

But, of course, I also fell in love with Chamberlain. It didn’t hurt that he was goodlooking, of course. Still: 1980 was just the point at which my father’s alcoholism was becoming especially bad, and Blackthorne as played by Chamberlain offered a version of solid, trustworthy masculinity pursued even at great cost to himself (I found out much later that Chamberlain’s father had been an alcoholic). And, finally, perhaps decisively, there’s something incredibly joyful in Chamberlain’s demeanor all the way through the movie, despite the many tribulations his character experiences. This mood is particularly clear in the love scenes. It’s something that doesn’t appeal to me in the last as an adult and in a moment of giving into cynicism and my weird Midwest ethnocentrism I might call it “California beach boy love.” But the “I’m thrilled to be alive and overjoyed to be in love with you” mood that Chamberlain gives nearly every screen minute of Blackthorne’s affair with Mariko-san was the kind of thing that would have pushed every button I had at the time. The same is the case with Chamberlain’s portrayal of Father Ralph. Though he’s often tried, unhappy, and frustrated, in the scenes where comes together with Meggie, his whole personality is suffused with light.

Loving Chamberlain was not something that my mother approved of, although she put up with the Japan fascination and even supported it a little. I’m not sure why she objected to Chamberlain, exactly, except perhaps, that it was wasted time and energy and a little money. Maybe it was that he was in his mid-40s by 1980 and she thought he was too old for me to crush on him? Anyway, she was opposed.

Generally, she could motivate me to stop doing things she disapproved of (but which weren’t easily described as sinful) through ridicule, and she tried really really hard in this case. At some point in the early 80s she said to me, after I’d enthused about him to her when reading a magazine article, rather scornfully, “He’s gay.”

Sexual reproduction had been explained to me when I was nine. I’d seen heterosexual pornography sometime in fifth grade for the first time at a friend’s house (I’m sure there was some in our house, too) and I read mature novels that described quite complex sexual acts between men and women. So at eleven or twelve I knew in a general sense what “gay” meant (to me, she meant that he loved men instead of women), but nothing specific. I knew “gay” was bad because kids yelled it as an insult at each other on the playground. What I understood from her comment at the time, thinking back now, was that Richard Chamberlain was not worthy of my adoration because he was a man who loved men. It was not only frivolous to invest attention in a celebrity, but particularly in one who was so much older and did not even love women.

index[Right: Chamberlain with Dixie Carter, ca. 1980]

“It says in this article,” I said to her, “that he’s dating someone named Dixie Carter. There’s a picture.” (I didn’t know who Dixie Carter was; her fame in Designing Women struck a few years later.)

“Well of course it says that,” mom responded. “But it’s not true. He’s just being photographed with her at a party. He doesn’t love her.”

“But why would the magazine not tell the truth?”

“Because no one would put him in their film or show if they knew he was gay.”

“Oh,” I said. “Why?”

“Because people don’t want to see gay actors kissing women, it’s disgusting.” (Her objection at this point was cultural / moral — HIV / AIDS appeared in the U.S. in 1981, and in the Midwest we weren’t aware of it for a few more years and so the scare around gay actors wasn’t yet part of this discussion.)

At that point, I remember thinking that I wanted to kiss Richard Chamberlain. Very, very, very badly. I was lying in bed at night, soothing myself to sleep by thinking about kissing and heavily petting with Richard Chamberlain. He was a major figure in my early masturbatory fantasies. Did that mean I was disgusting? I wanted to do something disgusting? I wisely decided not to ask mom this question.

“Oh,” I said. I’m sure she realized I wasn’t actually agreeing with her, but she was probably happy to stop me talking about Chamberlain for a while.

I went on to dream for several more years about kissing Chamberlain. The Thorn Birds gave me lots of ideas about how he would kiss and do other things as well.

At some point while mom was in the hospital that summer, I mentioned to her that I watching Shogun in the evenings.

“Oh, yeah?” she said. “Do you still like it so much?”

“It’s okay,” I said. “Richard Chamberlain is just as beautiful and as moving an actor now as he was back then.” I smiled. It was true — even if I wasn’t as enthralled by the storyline as I had been thirty years earlier. I still felt the remnants of my crush on him and remembered all the joy the feelings had given me, all the nights of daydreaming adventures as and with John Blackthorne and kisses from all of his characters and the man himself.

“Just as gay, too,” she said in a sort of know-it-all voice. The scorn was back.

But now forty-three and a woman grown, I wasn’t having it. I’d read Chamberlain’s (not-that-great) memoir, Shattered Love, when it came out, and he confirmed his sexual orientation. He’d been outed in 1989 by a French magazine, although at 55, his career as a conventional heterosexual romantic lead was potentially already waning. But it had been clear from the book that his need to hide this piece of his identity for professional reasons had not come easily to him. Indeed, the book describes a lifelong struggle to hide his real self behind a smiling façade.

Maybe that was why Chamberlain’s Blackthorne smiled so much. Because he had to look as happy as possible in the strange circumstances in which he found himself, to preserve his equilibrium and safety?

I just wasn’t going to be scorned. So I said, “Do you know he’s been in a relationship with the same man since 1976?”

“No.”

“Longer than most heterosexual couples these days,” I noted.

“He’s still gay, though.”

“And I still love him, mom.”

“Hmmm.”

We left it there.

I never told her about Armitage.

***

These are the questions I have.

1. A crush comes out of this basically inexplicable feeling of strong attraction, infatuation, love. At that time we experience it, we can’t totally explain it, but a crush draws on and responds to our deepest needs. Consequently, as a crushee one feels pervaded by fantastic feelings of connection to the universe. One could say the crush involves a quality of unconditional feeling in which the real qualities of object of one’s affection is less important than the feeling itself, which comes from the meaning of the object, which somehow makes difficult things “okay.” Can a crush be understood, on the affective level, as an experience of renewed unconditionality, the possibilities for which are gradually lost as one matures?

2. Where does the need to scorn a crush from, then? Or, less drastically, the constant urging that one gets not to allow oneself to live fully within the crush and experience the emotions, to be sensible?

3. Why and in what sense does a crush have to be “worthy” of one’s psychic and emotional energy?

4. How do all of these experiences relate both to the perception of shame on the crushee and the practice of shaming of the crushee by those around her (either those who directly disapprove, or those who would insist on moderation or “being realistic,” or those who can tolerate “worthy” crushes but not “unworthy” ones, however those may be defined)?

~ by Servetus on January 9, 2014.

48 Responses to “My first Richard”

  1. Great questions. Perhaps all of us who are crushing on RA do so for different reasons but I will answer for me. Having this crush, though unexpected, does make me feel young, energized, happy, surprised, silly, intense. passionate, connected and more. And yes, it’s easy to lose these feelings as we grow up. But it is such a blessing to rediscover your younger, less mature self. So, yes, a crush can be understood as a renewed experience of unconditionality. As for question 2, I allow myself this “crush thing” without too much guilt or angst. Being sensible is overrated, and unless I go off the deep end, leave Mr. Jones and become a stalker, where is the harm? Why do you have to punish yourself for feeling happy? Re:3, The “worthy” thing, I suppose if you are going to have a crush, you want to bestow your love on an object that reflects your good taste and discernment. After the initial lightening strike of RA energy, the internet lets us find out more about this person and he seems “worthy”, so we give ourselves permission to go for it. It being Armitagemania. Question 4 is the most difficult one to answer. Why is crushing on RA perceived as shameful if no one is hurt by it? It might be embarrassing to reveal the depths of my crush to some people who would find it juvenile, but not shameful. My sister mocks my crush on RA and tells me how she doesn’t get it, and that’s OK. I have good friends that wish they had their own crush, but you know a crush is generally not transferable. I don’t take myself too seriously so that probably inoculates me against shaming. As for unworthy crushes, who is the judge of worthiness? If you have a crush, then haven’t you decided the object is worthy – for you at least? And finally, I met Richard Chamberlain twice and he was as handsome up close as on screen, and a gentleman worthy of your crush.

    ,

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    • I think one of the questions that ‘s bugging me is not so much why we are ashamed or not ashamed of our own crushes (that is a valid and and important problem and was my question in about 2011) but rather why do we scorn *others’* crushes? (and, although I specifically did not articulate it here, something I have wondered with particular intensity this week, why we scorn others who share the same crush we have — if I continue to be able to write without interruption I’ll ask that quesiton more openly soon).

      re crushworthiness of oject — I don’t know if you have decided the object is worthy — on some level you’ve decided to set certain rules out of play, I suppose. Maybe that generates new questions?

      Great to hear that Chamberlain is / was “worthy” — although in a way I suppose what I’m trying to say is that his worthiness or lack of same was irrelevant to what I seemed to get from him, perhaps particularly because I didn’t know much about him at the time. Thinking of Visnjic, he took a hit among some of his fans for an infidelity he engaged in that resulted in a child with a woman not his wife (while he and his wife adopted a child). I found out about that after I’d sort of lost track of him. Would be interesting to know how it might have affected me otherwise.

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  2. Both my mother and I loved Richard Chamberlain and we watched his movies together. Learning he’s gay didn’t change a thing, to me it only made his portrayal of Pater Ralph more truthful because I always thought the he must know a thing or two about forbidden love.

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    • I was reading last night about things he said during the Thorn Birds press blitz — one thing was that he had to fall in love with Rachel Ward and get her to fall in love with him …

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  3. Your first Richard – funny, how you happen to have “richarded” before! I remember the frenzy surrounding Father Ralph (I was too young for Shogun.) – and not understanding at the time what the fuss was about. But then again, that was at a time in my life when I was beginning to morph into an adult, and I had made up my mind to be a rationally thinking grown-up, so crushing was not allowed! When I look back, I see a young girl trying so hard to be grown-up that she completely “cerebralised” everything. I wanted to explain everything, myself and the world with reasons and rationality. Consequently, it has taken me 30 years to go back and finally allow myself to do the things I should’ve done when I was 14… like being irrational and crushing without consequences. I suppose that is my answer to Q1.
    Q2, 3 & 4- the need to scorn a crush might come from the unattainability of the object of the crush (unless we are talking RL crushes here). Reason tells us that we are focussing our energies on someone who will never know, and with whom there is no realistic chance. It seems pointless to adore someone who cannot give back what we put in. That equation is wrong, of course, because the process and activity of crushing is the point here, not the actual attaining of the object of the crush. By crushing we release pent-up energy, often in very creative ways. We rediscover our passion(s), redefine our values and ideals, and relate to other/new people on our way. We renew our energy, refocus our goals. It’s an altogether positive activity that deserves no scorn or shame but applause. Because it shows open-mindedness and changeability, agility of mind, imagination, ability to love and to express that love. I think it is also an expression of self-love in the sense that we think at least a tiny bit that we are worthy of being loved back.
    Q3 – what Kathy said. You can’t crush on someone whom you hate – that would be a contradiction in terms. It has to be someone you like, who has qualities you like and admire, especially if you are open about crushing.

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    • I think the name is entirely coincidental (it’s one of my deep dark secrets that I don’t much like the name Richard! Take away my fangirl card!) but it made a nice title. 🙂

      I think I didn’t take the rational turn till I was in college — but I recognize elements of what you’re describing in my own journey, too.

      yeah — it seems like one way to look at this effect is as a relationship of exchange. Though as you note, I think I gain more from crushing than I expend in energy. But I need a different scale of worth.

      I agree you can’t crush on someone you hate (or I can’t, but as we know some people seem to do something like that), but I think what I’m bothered by is the source of the feeling in a kind of unconditionality (I love x against all reason) over against the problem of needing to justify it for a reason (because he is a worthy person and not a jerk, for instance).

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      • Ultimately I think we are helpless in the face of love. Love happens like a force of nature, is often inexplicable. Love simply *is*. Crushing is a form of love. Therefore it is unconditional. The justifications are just our own brain trying to make sense of the inexplicable. As humans are wont to do. I mean, without “blaspheming” against Mr A – but there are many other decent, tall, dark, handsome, British, talented men out there. Why him? Idk – but I better explain it to myself. Does it matter what I crush on him for? Not really, because the crush serves only me, not him, anyway. It’s only when I come out in public about my crush that I feel the need to justify. There is the crux of the matter. If we had all stayed in the closet, there’d be no need for justifications, and unconditional, uncompromising love we would feel. I blame the internet 😉

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      • ::feels better not being the only one who dislikes “Richard.”::

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        • high five. I think Armitage is a great name, though. (So is Chamberlain — distinctive, elegant.)

          I think it mostly has to do with the fact that it doesn’t have good nicknames so you almost have to use the whole name. I can’t imagine myself whispering or yelling “Richard” in the throes of passion. When he introduced himself as “Rich” to fans in Michigan, my heart skipped several beats.

          Then again, I also insist on the being called the full version of my real name, so I should sympathize with him on those grounds.

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        • Me too 🙂

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  4. Both Shogun and Thorn Birds were HUGE hits in Hungary back in the 80s (we only had like 2 channels back in those days) and practically every other woman was crushing on RC, including my own sister! 😀 I remember he played the Count of Monte Cristo too in a mini-series. What a gorgeous man he was (in fact, he still is!!) Interesting coincidence, I just read this article about him, re.coming out as an actor who is “leading man material”..
    http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/12/27/richard-chamberlain-gay-actors-coming-out/

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  5. I recently saw Goran in a movie called “Beginners” -playing the love interest of Christopher Plummer, whose character decides to come out to his son after losing his wife after long decades of marriage. It’s an interesting movie, also starring Ewan McGregor. It was recommended to me by Angie.

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  6. Thank you for this. I too have been faced with the whole ridicule thing, but one of the things that was said above in the comments is striking a chord with me. “By crushing, we relase pent-up energy, often in very creative ways.” How many of us have begun writing, if only in blogs, to express ourselves? How many of us have done more research about our crush, to learn more about him? Created art? Done research that has led us down paths we’d never have tread but for him? How many peopel have we met, because we stepped out of our comfort zone and reached out? No, I don’t want to tell anyone else I’ve a crush on RA – I don’t want the limitation they place upon me, saying “you’ll never *insert comment here*” – no I probably won’t, but that does not mean that my imagination cannot fly.

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    • Thanks for the comment, and welcome. “Only” in blogs? 🙂

      What your remark suggests is that at least potentially the scornful response to a crush is a response to the effects of the crush (generativity, creativity, etc.).

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  7. Thank you so much for reminding me of “my” first Richard. Yes, it was Chamberlain, too. I watched Thorn Birds for the first time together with my mother at Christmas 1984, one of the very few occasions that we were in harmony. And she always denied that he was “gay”, suppose it destroyed her worldview.
    Yes, I love the novels of James Clavell, watched “Shogun” together with my grandmom, my real confidant during her whole lifetime. Still love the “Noble House”-miniseries with Pierce Brosnan. Uuh, remembering these times makes me feel sentimental…
    To the “crush” thing: I´ve never felt such a crush like I have on RA before. Yes, and I feel a bit ashamed of it, only my two daughters know about it, they accept though not understanding it, and maybe they are a bit proud that their old mum took the nighttrain to Berlin to attend the DOS-premiere in December.
    On the other hand, in my whole life I was so rational, all about behaving and acting for reasons, being responsible for anything, always wondering if I had the right to be funny, silly, ridiculous or whatsoever. I was never young in my youth, now I am, I don´t care to what I see looking in the mirror.
    Final statement: Being “crushed” and having met all those lovely ladies around during the last year (virtual and personnel) makes me feel so more alive and reading this blog gives me so much input to think about and scrutinise my real life.

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    • aaah, a shared Chamberlain crush. He was (and remains, though he’s an old man now) so delectable!

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      • No no no, I never had a crush on Chamberlain 🙂 But it´s so interesting, my catholic mother loved him playing Father Ralph having an affair (still don´t know how she ever justified it to herself) and then denying the real man was gay.
        Yes, and he´s still delectable…

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        • well, me and your mom, then. 🙂 maybe she had a crush on a priest in her day? 🙂 there is something about that whole “you can’t have me” vibe?

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  8. Richard Chamberlain – yes! Even now I have Shogun and The Thorn Birds – the mini series but, as usual, I started by reading the novels. I also loved, as a girl, the version of Cinderella called The Slipper and the Rose – a musical in the 80s, I believe, where he played Prince Charming … Most girls/women had a crush on him; I had a crush on Blackthorne, because his love story with Mariko was so romantic but also tragic (and I started researching Japan and the Japanese culture then and I still haven’t finished). As for the crush, yeah.. it should have been obvious that he was gay, but I was so young – there was no “gaydar” talk in those times.
    RA looks so manly, talented, charismatic and is such a really, truly nice person that one cannot but like him and try to know him better; knowing him to be gay crushed all my phantasies of/with him and I suffer deeply and I have been heartbroken for a while – but it’s me, my suffering, my pain. For him I have nothing but best wishes and good things to say and I can still admire him from afar and continue to follow his career. There are many kinds of love and I can still love him – this is no girlie crush – and stay strong for him. Don’t judge me too harshly, I do that, too.

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    • I really didn’t want to get into Armitage’s sexual orientation here, but I’ll state for the record that any conclusion anyone draws at this point is intuitive rather than definitive. We all have our opinions on this question, of course (I’ve written about this before), and our feelings about the conclusions we’ve drawn, but as far as I know there’s been no statement and the default assumption in our culture is that people are heterosexual until they say or behave as if they aren’t.

      What I wanted to talk about was the worthiness of the crush issue — in that it seems to me that scorn emerges as the effect between the clash of the “unconditional” and euphoric feelings of the crush and the attempt / need / result of trying to come with a justification for the crush (which suggests the discomfort of everyone around the crush with the kind of unconditionality that it represents).

      In other words, the subtext to this post is the way that people have been scorning each other for their feelings for the last ten days or so.

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      • Thank you for making it clear to me. I didn’t see it like that because I was so deep in my misery but I trusted you a month ago with The ship that dare not speak its name.. remember? I thought that if you consider it possible, it might as well be. I believe you are the most knowledgeable about RA and you understand best the finer points of his character and life, let alone his career. Because you have much more experience and have been a fan longer than me and I learned so much from you, I have come to trust your judgement implicitly.

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        • If I recall correctly what I said in that series was that it was possible in the sense that it couldn’t be effectively ruled out, but also that the evidence for it wasn’t especially good and relied on intuitive patterns of thought rather than definitive proofs. My point in writing about that was that the thoughts I had about it / the fantasy of Richlee had a big effect on me — I wasn’t trying to say anything about the reality of the situation (indeed I was trying pretty explicitly not to be saying anything in that regard).

          But you should always, always, always be critical of what I say. Never accept my arguments if you don’t have good reasons for doing so!

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  9. Thank you for the excellent post that came just in time. I think falling out of a crush can be as unreasonable as getting in it in the first place.
    I wasn’t a big fan of RC, but you reminded me that I watched a few episodes of Poldark recently, and Robin Ellis was still charming as I remembered. That twinkle in his eye still worked!

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    • I think crushes can definitely come back — or the memory of them 🙂 I haven’t seen Thorn Birds in years, but it occurred to me that maybe it’s time again.

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  10. Ah yes, Richard Ch. I liked him and T.Mifune(my major Japanese Crush:)) in Shogun. My Grandmother and Mother loved him as Father Ralph but hated that sinful girl! 😉 he he .. I had no interest in Richard Ch. coz at that time I was too busy crushing at Han Solo:) then Indiana Jones,Rick *swoon*Deckhard from Bladerunner , that policeman from “Witness”, one handsome doctor from Fugitive and many many more .
    Oh my! LOL! I just remind myself about Jake Sanders ,delightful villain:D from Return to Eden( Australian product)

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    • wow, you are a serial crusher.

      I always thought Harrison Ford was attractive, but I’m not sure I ever had a crush on him.

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      • Harrison Ford ?… I never had crush on Harrison Ford (whoever he is 😉 )

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        • 🙂 I lost interest in him when he left his wife for Callista Flockhart.

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          • Skinny mare !.(I’m joking 🙂 ),, also seems little gruff privately….Bruce Willis comes to mind (on of my crushes) His apparent lack of humor in RL just broke my heart several years ago !

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            • I never know what happens in people’s private relationships obviously but what bothered me was that he seemed to be abandoning the mother of his children and a very strong, interesting woman for someone who gave every impression that she couldn’t life her own briefcase and needed to be taken care of. Depressing.

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  11. Ah, yes, Richard Chamberlain! I don’t remember if I went so far as to crush on him but I did have a soft spot for him thanks to “The Thorn Birds” and all those other mini-series that were so popular in the 80s.

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  12. I’m a 37 year old female, so I was a little bit young to have experienced full Chamberlain-mania on-time. But once I finally watched his movies/mini-series in the late 80s (sorry to say to a fan) I was never impressed by his scenes with women. I always found him stiff and unconvincing being romantic with his female costars, even with Rachel Ward. I thought Ward went out of her way to carry those romantic scenes. Chamberlain always felt asexual to me, for lack of a better term. I liked him as an actor just not as a man to covet so I linked sexual attraction to my crushes.

    I started early with my crushes probably because my mom shared her crushes with me. She went for the macho types like John Wayne and Tom Selleck (both also had rampant gay rumors btw). I had a broader range – I adored Harrison Ford and Maxwell Caulfield (again both had rampant gay rumors and “pictures to prove it”). If I ever wanted to check on the rumors I just consulted my National Enquirer-loving mother. I could tell something was “different” about Chamberlain and told my mom. That’s when she told me about all the gay rumors. I believed the Chamberlain ones and understood why I wasn’t attracted to this good-looking man. She also believed the Chamberlain ones but not the Wayne and Selleck ones. I never believed the Ford & Caulfield rumors and continued to “crush” them.

    Does this mean my feelings for Armitage would change if I found out he is gay? Sure. I will probably no longer think of him as a sexual object, just a great actor. I WILL watch his movies once and not think much about him when they are over (as opposed to my current pattern of Armitage-mania). I will probably only rarely go on websites to read his interviews or post my thoughts on his career. That’s how I react to any actor when I admire his talent but have no sexual attraction to him, gay or not.

    I suspect I’m not in the minority. But, I think the statistics about how fans feel about actors’ sexuality are hard to gather because many people out there are trying hard to be nice when some actor they like turns out to be gay. I really think it bothers most. No one wants to be labeled biased or prejudiced when they are just sharing an opinion so they keep quiet and we mistake the loud few for the majority. I also think most people wouldn’t hate an actor if they didn’t like their sexual preference, they just wouldn’t necessarily wait in lines for hours to see them OR run out and go see the actor in a movie the very weekend it opens. That’s why PR people continue to exist.

    But, just to be clear, I DON’T think Armitage gay because similar gay rumors exist for almost every.single.fucking.actor.on.the.planet. I’ve also been analyzing rumors and accusations for actors since I was 8 years old (‘cause of mom) so I’m pretty good at rifling through the crap.

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    • Thanks and welcome. Just as a reminder, this was a post not about the legitimacy of feelings (whatever they are) nor about Armitage’s sexual orientation; I was asking questions about why we scorn other people’s crushes and why we are vulnerable to fears (and resulting needs for justification) of crushes in general. Thanks.

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  13. Wow, Servetus, you and I have the same taste in men. I fell in love with RC after seeing him in the Count of Monte Cristo (of course, I fell in love with Dantes when I read the book, so it was only natural that I followed suit with RC.) And Goran Visnjic was sort of inevitable because of the accent and being tall/slender/blued-eyed/dark-haired like my first husband. I actually forgot about Goran till I saw him with Tilda Swinton in The Deep End recently. He seems to go for or get type cast in the same gray characters that RA does…You have EXCELLENT taste in crushes.

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    • Aw, thanks! So do you! When I “fell” for Visnjic exSO was still SO, and he said to me, “ich erkenne Deine Beuteschema sofort wieder” — I immediately recognize your Beuteschema (German word that translates as the pattern that a predator has for recognizing desirable / acceptable prey). SO / exSO was about my height, broad / sturdy, brownhaired and browneyed, so a little jealous may have been at work there.

      If I remember correctly from the days when I regularly read “the unofficial GV page” or whatever it was called, Visnjic at some point made the conscious decision to reject roles that cast him in vampirish sort of things — i.e., he didn’t want to be typecast as the darkhaired, accented eastern European male. My suspicion is that that limited his career significantly in that it cut his exposure. I also seem to remember that there were solid Bond rumors about him either the penultimate or last time the role was recast and that he was among the last three or something. In ‘Helen’ his eastern European accent was almost gone.

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  14. […] it’s not appropriate for me to write about Nimoy in the same way that I did about Richard Chamberlain, insofar as it wasn’t that kind of crush. I’ve been smiling at the many friends in my […]

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  15. […] this is almost my only experience of crushing on a celebrity, and the media world has changed since the earlier ones. It was more or less accidental that I crushed on Armitage in the first place. I don’t watch […]

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