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  • Producer David Victor's tendency was to saddle his television scripts and programs with some neurotic character of the week; but the sheer narrative quality of the scripts , the direction and the acting of "Dr. Kildare" centering around the most attractive young Richard Chamberlain and the very able Raymond Massey surmounted all artistic obstacles. This very popular TV series debuted the same year as did "Ben Casey"; and while both shows' producers provided viewers with strong dramatic scripts and episodes, critics noted that "Dr. Kildare" looked clean, whereas "Ben Casey" seemed to be shot in tones of gray, in lower light, etc. For five years, the show remained relatively unchanged; in its last season, innovations of length and cast were tried, to save the series. A simple look at this 1960s transforming of the older MGM "Dr. Kildare" series reveals how immensely superior the television version was made to be. The list of directors who made "Dr. Kildare" a quality offering included Jack Arnold, John Brahm, Marc Daniels, Lawrence Dobkin, David Friedkin, Robert Gist, James Goldstone, Lamont Johnson, Alf Kjellin, James Komack, Robert Ellis Miller, John Newland, Boris Sagal, Richard Sarafian, Elliot Silverstein, Don Taylor, and Paul Wendkos--some of TV's best directors. Writers for the series included Theodore Apstein, William Bast, Douglas Benton, Jerry de Bono, Louis S. Peterson, Gene Rodenberry and Jim Thompson. In addition to young, untrained but promising Chamberlain and the veteran Massey the cast included at various times Ken Berry, Jud Taylor, Jean Inness, Robert Paget, Joan Patrick, Jo Helton, Lee Kurty, John Napier and Cynthia Stone among others. Fine talents such as Leslie Nielsen, Lee Meriwether, Hayden Rorke, Diane Baker and Donn Loren appeared numerous times. Guest stars were memorable from the series but the chief ornament of the show were its plots--a mysterious and dangerous virus, Massey's vacation, Dr. Kildare facing death for the first time, the results of a teenaged gang fight, and many more such episodes. Because Blair General was a big city hospital;, and because of the presence of an older practitioner, with a wealth of life and professional experience, the design of Dr. Kildare provided far more potential for interesting hour-long story lines than would any show's premise concerning any private medical practitioner. This was and is THE hour-long medical series for most Americans. It was a landmark series for many reasons, and has been much imitated.
  • Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare were exact contemporaries, both doctor shows that began and ended in the same season and were the most talked about shows on TV when they debuted in 1961. People were always making comparisons between them and here is mine.

    One difference is that Casey was a resident, a full fledged doctor on staff at a hospital and a very prominent neurosurgeon. Kildare was an intern, a beginning doctor still learning the profession. If Kildare had been at the same hospital as Casey, Ben would have been bossing him around and making his life miserable.

    A bigger difference was what they represented. Kildare was a symbol of the early 1960's. We were a very proud and optimistic country at that time. We'd survived the depression, won the war, had the communists on the defensive and were beginning to explore space. Social changes were taking place as well. if we were going to be the Greatest Country in the World, how could we have poverty and injustice? We tended to look at our government and institutions as benevolent servants of the people. There were several shows from this period, (Naked City, The Defenders, Mr. Novak were others), where handsome young idealistic novices entered a profession to be guided by their wise, patient but firm elders in becoming instruments of the system. The big challenge was getting people to trust the system by not committing crimes, studying hard and taking their pills. And of course, it's hard to look at the young men in these shows, (Richard Chamberlain, James Franciscus, Paul Burke, Robert Reed), and not see our youthful, idealistic president of the time, John Kennedy.

    Casey was a precursor of the late 1960's. To him, the system was a monolith that existed for its own purposes and on its own momentum. You had to wrestle with it and with the mediocrity around you to get things done. Casey had a mentor as well, but Dr. Zorba often appeared to be more of a matador than a mentor, trying to tame Ben Casey, as he always called him, with a red cape and a sharp needle to puncture his ego from time to time.

    I'd rather wake up from surgery and see Dr. Kildare's smiling face. But I'd be more likely to survive if it was Ben Casey who had done the surgery.
  • Premiering on NBC's prime-time schedule on September 28,1961, "Dr. Kildare" became a widely successful television series that was based on the theatrical MGM "Dr. Kildare" movies starring Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore that were released in theaters during the 1930's and 1940's. There was also a successful radio version of "Dr. Kildare" that became a household name within itself even before it made the transition to television by the early-1960's. The television series quickly achieved success and made a star of Richard Chamberlain,who played the title role(along with an ABC medical drama "Ben Casey" that premiered at the same time but premiered a week after "Dr. Kildare" on October 2,1961)that inspired many television series dealing with the medical field.

    Produced with the American Medical Association along with the Physicians Advisory Committee and the Hospital of the Good Samaritan of Greater Los Angeles for their valuable assistance the television series "Dr. Kildare" became one of the biggest prime-time successes at NBC produced a total of 191 episodes airing from September 28,1961 until August 30,1966. Out of the 191 episodes that were produced a total of 135 hour long episodes were in black and white for Seasons 1 thru 4 from September 28,1961 until May 11,1965(with the exception of "The Burning Sky" in Season 2 that was in color). Then on September 13,1965 for it's fifth and final season,the show went from it's hour long format to an half-hour weekly format and the series was now in color for 56 episodes airing from September 13,1965 until April 5,1966. Repeated episodes of it's fifth and final season continued in constant airings until August 30,1966. Seasons 1 thru 4 of "Dr. Kildare" were on Thursday nights in prime-time for NBC. The fifth and final season saw the series moved from Thursday nights to Tuesday nights for the remainder of it's run.

    Under the creation of James Komack and producers Norman Felton and David Victor(who served as executive producers of this series under there production company Arena Productions/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television and NBC),the series like the MGM film series of the same title(1938-1942) centered around the young intern Dr. Kildare(Richard Chamberlain) working at the fictional metropolitan "Blair General Hospital" to learn his profession,and dealing with not only the problems of the patients,but confronting medical issues while winning the respect of the Senior Dr. Leonard Gillespie(Raymond Massey) while surrounded by all artistic obstacles both personal and professional. The results of this series was riveting drama with big name guest stars to boot along with the superior writing. The result gave the series three Prime Time Emmy Nominations for Best New Series and Best Actor in a Television Series and won Richard Chamberlain the Golden Globe in 1963 for Best Outstanding Actor in a Television Series.

    The list of big time writers for this series consisted of Gene Roddenberry, Douglas Benton, Don Brinkley, Sy Salkowitz, E. Jack Neuman, Arthur Weiss, Al C. Ward, Christopher Knopf, Edward J. Lakso, Chester Krumholz, Phillip Saltzman, William Bast, to Theodore Apstein, Louis S. Peterson, Jerry De Bono, and Jim Thompson. The big time list of directors who made "Dr. Kildare" a standard quality of great entertainment included Jack Arnold, Alvin Ganzer, Don Medford, Marc Daniels, Alf Kjellin, Leo Penn, Ida Lupino, Lawrence Dobkin, to John Brahm, John Newland, Herschel Daugherty, Sydney Pollack, James Goldstone, Alexander Singer, Boris Sagel, Paul Wendkos and David Friedkin along with James Komack, Richard C. Sarafian, Don Taylor and Elliott Silverstein.

    In addition to the recurring characters including Ken Berry, Jud Taylor, Jean Inness, Robert Paget, Joan Patrick, John Napier and Cynthia Stone among others big name guest stars ranging from Leslie Nielsen, Lee Meriwether, Hayden Rourke, Diane Baker, William Shatner, Robert Redford, James Mason, Boris Karloff, Suzanne Pleshette, Robert Culp, Yvette Mimieux, Ricardo Montalban, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Vaughn, Ed Asner, to Sorrell Booke, James Best, Dick York, James Franciscus, Richard Beymer, Ross Martin, Donna Douglas, Fred Astaire, Barbara Parkins, William Schallert, Dean Jagger, James Earl Jones, Diana Sands, Gene Hackman, Greg Morris, Angie Dickinson, Kim Hunter, Carroll O'Connor, Basil Rathbone, Edgar Buchanan, Steven Hill, Anne Francis, Joanne Linville, Charles Bronson, Jack Lord, James Coburn, Burgess Meredith, Yvonne Craig, and George Kennedy.

    Several great episodes of "Dr. Kildare" do stand out as brilliant and I will start the show's pilot episode "Twenty Four-Hours". Other great episodes "An Island Like A Peacock", "The Administrator", "An Ungodly Act", "One for the Road", "For The Living", "The Chemistry of Anger", the two-part "Tyger,Tyger", to "To Each His Own Prison", "The Good Luck Charm","Whoever Heard Of A Two-Headed Doll?","A Miracle For Margaret" just to name a few. The phenomenal success of "Dr. Kildare" was a landmark series for many reasons largely because it let audiences see for the first time a show that combined high drama and medical information that was unheard of when this series premiered in 1961. And it has been much imitated.
  • This series was based on the movies about the same characters starring Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore. I truly loved those old movies. If I am not mistaken I think Lew Ayres even appeared in one of the episodes. The series was my introduction to Richard Chamberlain. As I have followed his career - I have never been disappointed by the roles he has taken on. But it was as Dr. Kildare that I shall always remember him first. I must add though that he had a great singing voice as well - I used to own the only record he ever released - Dr. Kildare Sings - I believe was the title of the LP. I concur with other fans about wondering if any copies of the show still exist for release in a DVD format for us diehard fans. I would buy them in a heartbeat!!!
  • I used to watch this show (along with Ben Casey show) which was on around the same era, and loved them. This was in the 1960's. I watched

    Dr. Kildare every week starring Richard Chamberlain. It was a must for me. And Raymond Massey, as Dr. Gillespie was really the best actor in the series. I always thought Richard Chamberlain was a good actor and his career has gone well through the years. But as far as I am concerned, I liked him best as Dr Kildare. Why did they never bring out some episodes of Dr. Kildare on DVD or VHS?There must be lots of us still around who were young in the 60's who would buy them.
  • I just stumbled onto these comments, and it's great to see so many people who remember "Dr. Kildare." The show was one of the first that was socially aware, and its episodes included many touching topics: a man dealing with amputation of a leg (tremendous performance by comic Jack Carter); restoring hearing to a little deaf boy; Harry Guardino learning to speak again and calling his wife; and of course the classic "Tyger, Tyger," the surfer saga with then-heartthrob/epileptic surfer Yvette Mimieaux, complete with cheesy rear-screen footage of Yvette "surfing." I ask you fans out there: Is there any way we can get these shows onto DVD? I would love to own some of these episodes! Do we know who owns the rights to these shows? Can we get a write-in campaign going? I would like to hear some ideas out there; perhaps there are folks out there who are more experience than I have in such matters.
  • The two part Episode of Dr. Kildare that featured Yvette Mimieux was called "Tiger,Tiger." (The title of a famous poem) It was one of the highest rated shows of the year, which I believe was 1963. Miss Mimieux played a beautiful epileptic and she died having a seizure while surfing, which her doctor had warned her not to do.

    Oh, the heartbreak! Oh the teenage hormones! Oh, how the ratings soared!
  • I used to watch this series and would not leave the house "for anything" the night the show was on. I remember my older sister asking me if I wanted to go bowling with a bunch of friends, I declined. I had this teenager's fanaticism for the series and a crush in a good way on Dr. Kildare, Richard Chamberlain (The Thorn Birds). I guess Dr. James Kildare was a big heart throb those days. I remember his boss Dr. Leonard Gillespie, Raymond Massey (All my Darling Daughters) calling him Jim. That was a nice series. I clearly remember when they did a love story where Yvette Mimieux was his girl friend and Richard Chamberlain sang: "True Love!" I bought his record and sang along like a crazy teen. I think she died of cancer, I guess, in that episode. I have no recollection of Mimieux being nurse Zoe Lawton (1965-66). My guess is because I was raised abroad and by the time I watched the series it was ending in the States. The last of the series probably never got translated. The series was about this intern and his relationship with his boss and his patients. It was today's ER with fewer interns. Just one! Dr. Kildare! He was enough! It was my favorite doctor series and I remember it, fondly!
  • Before St. Elsewhere and ER, even before Marcus Welby, M.D., there was Dr. Kildare, the series that brought fame to Richard Chamberlain. During the early 1960's, Dr. Kildare dramatized the ramification of medical issues of the day. I believe that if not for Dr. Kildare, there might not have been an ER.
  • I never missed this show in the 5 years it was on. To me, it was the very best and used to tune out everything else on Thursday nights at 8:30. There was a lot of caring characters and many famous actors & actresses had guest shots every week. I wish they would release this on DVD. I would buy the entire series in a heartbeat! I would lobby MGM, NBC or whatever is necessary to get this accomplished. I have heard that a company in Canada is holding the rights, but do not know that name. If anyone else is interested or has more knowledge, lets try and get this done & released. Richard Chamberlain is a wonderful actor and people of all ages deserve to find out just how great he was when he first started acting. Nancy
  • Truly outstanding television series with Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey in the lead roles. This was based on the motion picture with Lew Ayres, a conscientious objector during World War 11 and Lionel Barrymore.

    Each week we were treated to new episodes. The show depicted that doctors are real people as well with emotional feelings.

    I remember how each show would start off and then there would be that gorgeous music played. I can still hum it like it was yesterday, and we're talking about 45 years!

    One of my favorite episodes was when a retarded man (Sorrell Booke) came into the emergency room with his brother. Both were of the Orthodox faith and after careful testing, it was revealed that the brother was terminal. When Booke was told of this by Kildare, the latter told him to be a mensch. (Person)

    Raymond Massey was excellent as Kildare's mentor. Too bad that as a lead doctor, he was continuously smoking on the show. Chamberlain, as we all know, went on to become the king of the mini-series.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I remember being 10 years old and completely loving this tv show!! My favorite episode was Tyger Tyger with Yvette Mimeaux (sp). It has stayed with me through the years, when i studied William Blake in college right through to now. I vividly r ecall at the end of the episode, after the girl had died. Dr. Gillispie commisserating, with Kildare, by saying, You can't blame yourself. Its like stubbing your toe & dying of shock. I thought that was a brilliant comparison.
  • bkoganbing5 September 2019
    The popular MGM movie series Dr.Kildare/Dr.Gillespie ran from about 1936 to 1946 and concerned the folks who practiced medicine and worked at New York City's mythical Blair General Hospital. Lew Ayres played young idealistic James Kildare who became the special protege of Dr.Leonard Gillespie played from his wheelchair by Lionel Barrymore.

    The Kildare series in fact was made for Barrymore to accommodate him now that infirmities confined him to the chair. After Ayres left more films were made right through the WW2 years with Gillespie and a string of young doctors he took under his wing.

    In the early 60s NBC revived the Kildare series with Richard Chamberlain as Kildare and out of the wheelchair Raymond Massey as Gillespie. All the colorful characters that inhabited Blair General Hospital from the movies were not there.

    Both Chamberlain who got his first public notice in this series and Raymond Massey filled their roles nicely, the idealistic intern and the savvy old pro of medicine. All medical shows seem to have the same plots, Kildare was no exception.

    There was a rivalry between this show and Ben Casey on ABC which ran roughly in the same years. Who was better Chamberlain or Vincent Edwards as Ben Casey?

    I kinda liked them both.
  • A legendary serie, great for Richard Chamberlaine - young and seductive- , as start point of medical series and for the atmosphere of the period. It is not easy to define it but its virtue remains the wise craft, the tension and something who can be defined as realism. A special serie about dutz, conflicts, people, courage and honesty and about the air of a lost America.
  • I absolutely loved this show growing up. Richard Chamberlain was not only a fine actor, but I had all his records and they were terrific as well. The stories were exactly the basis for every medical drama that followed. I would love to see this on DVD! Richard, thanks for the memories. The show had a wonderful ensemble cast and featured many great actors and actresses in guest roles. NBC did mess with it's scheduling later on and this hastened the show's demise. Most dramas of this period were not as full-dimensional.

    Richard had other series but none reached the fans as much as this. He was literally in EVERY fan magazine and I bought them all.
  • I was 13 when the episodes of 'Tyger 'Tyger' with Yvette Mimieux who played an epileptic surfer...... They have listed both episodes as that they were on Dr Kildare however the way I remember it .... Part 1 was on Dr Kildare and Part 2 was on the show 'The 11th Hour'... I guess they even melded shows like they do today back then in 1964. I remember it well as my mom didn't want me to watch it as there was a lot of making out in it, and she didn't want me getting any ideas.... How funny is that!! I watched it anyway, as I loved the premise of the show surfing being very in that era, and I did want to see all that making out! It was a great show, and I only ever saw it once as I never found it again to watch..too bad
  • I, too, was enthralled by this show & Dr Casey. the latter I found more compelling (the "birth, death, infinity" thing did it), but I (think) I recall the last episode of dr kildare as being more tragic. Didn't Dr Kildare stop, good samaritan-wise to help a stricken (pregnant female?) in a car accident. Despite his best efforts, something bad happens. Dr K is unjustly accused of negligence & indeed is found guilty in a court of law & loses his license to practice. Does anyone also recall this & supply other details. My heartfelt thanks if ANYONE can tell me where i might get even this episode on CD/DVD.
  • This series are great if you like soaps. But in general, They a cuddler for those of us who grew up in the 60's and like to sit down and watch this shows just to reminiscence. It is too bad that copies are non-existent and local channels do not provide re-runs. The technology exists now to colorize older shows/movies; To have Mr Ted Turner provide us with a series of this type of shows on his TMC/AMC channels would be great and I would certainly spend the time and money to watch this shows. Richard Chamberlain brings a great character to life on this shows and teaming up with Raymond Massey is just perfect. Thats what makes this show so great. I have looked for the music CD without luck; Not even on this area.