The medical drama Dr Kildare debuted on NBC's primetime schedule on September 28, 1961. Starring 27-year old heartthrob Richard Chamberlain, the show aired on Wednesdays at 8:30 and lasted for five seasons. It was followed at 9:30 by another new show, the sitcom Hazel. (And at 10:00, Sing Along with Mitch.) Kildare was a hit and finished the season as the 9th most popular show (Hazel was #4).
Although Chamberlain was certainly a handsome young man, I was more drawn to actor Vince Edwards who also played a doctor, on Ben Casey, a competing medical drama on ABC which aired on Mondays (but not as popular). Edwards was more swarthy and brooding while Chamberlain was a cool WASP. (The attraction to Edwards' type would continue through adulthood.) However, at the time I was just five and had no conception about what a same-sex attraction suggested. (I wrote about other same-sex attractions of my youth in the post Boyhood Crushes on Male TV Stars of the 1960's).
It was years before I heard any mention about Chamberlain being gay. I first heard some talk about his orientation when he starred in the popular 1982 TV mini-series Shogun. Chamberlain caused a bit of a stir last year when he made a comment in an interview that he wouldn't advise TV actors to come out. Chamberlain is now 78. Vince Edwards died in 1996 at the age of 67.
Here's a cheesy tribute to Chamberlain from his Dr. Kildare years that I found on You Tube: