Richard Chamberlain came out of the closet last week; I must call my grandmother and make sure she's OK.
I'm completely shocked myself, of course. I haven't been this stunned since George Michael admitted that he wasn't the Schwarzenegger we thought he was, that the swarthy lumberjack we'd all assumed was behind the creation of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" was, in fact, living a secret life. Yet here's burly Richard Chamberlain, speaking up and dashing the dreams of 91-year-old women everywhere.
Who knows what motivates the heart and soul of an enigmatic, 69-years-young Hollywood star, or why he so carelessly cast aside our most important illusion just when his career was at its peak? It was only three years ago that he was co-starring with Lauren Bacall in the miniseries Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke, and just a few years before that, he so magnificently supported Michael Learned in Aftermath: A Test of Love. Now he'll never get a chance to tour America with a road-show production of My Fair Ladyno one will buy the idea of a homosexual playing an effete British bachelor who breaks out into patter songs at the thought of giving a sassy flower girl a makeover. This will probably completely devastate the sales of his new confessional, Shattered Love: A Memoir. I don't know how he expects to sell any books now.
Oh, yes, I did have my Richard Chamberlain fantasies, but I never in my wildest imaginings thought they could come true. Sure, I had an adolescent tingle or two during Shogun when his adventurous Pilot-Major John Blackthorne arrived in feudal Japan and was offered the sexual services of a young boy by the native royalty. And I may have shivered inside my awkward high-schooler's body when 66-year-old Barbara Stanwyck watched him undress on the porch in The Thorn Birds and slurped, "You're the most beautiful man I've ever seen, Ralph de Bricassart." But how could anybody believe that the lead of such a testosterone-driven epic might really have preferred that 61-year-old co-star Richard Kiley be doing the peeping?
The world is already changing so quickly around me that I don't think I can take one more upheaval. Some things have to be constant and true. I'd like to be assured that the Fox and WB stars appearing on the cover of The Advocate really are being brave when they kiss another man for two seconds in that cutting-edge independent film. I have to know that after Will & Grace's Sean Hayes finishes his last swish take of the day, he goes home and really gives it to his girlfriend. I need to believe that lots of attractive, well-dressed thirtysomething men with good skin marry their overweight makeup artists because they're actually in love. If I wake up tomorrow and find out that macho man Nathan Lane was spotted in Pottery Barn with a Vanity Fair under one arm and a Kenneth Cole bag on the other, I've had it.