Dr Kildare

During my downtime (read: out of work), I started watching my DVDs of Dr. Kildare series starring Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey.

I had purchased the entire series from Amazon because I had not seen any of the episodes since vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard back in the early 70s. I was curious as to how the medicine held up and I wasn’t disappointed — besides, Richard Chamberlain isn’t hard on the eyes either.

As a side note, before I continue, I also watched the only DVDs available of Ben Casey. Given that both series debuted a few days of each other, both series were quite different. For instance, Ben Casey was the chief resident of neurosurgery while James Kildare started as an intern and later became a resident. Many of the Casey stories tended to be grim because there wasn’t much that could be offered for their patients whereas, Kildare was an internist and they saw a wider variety of patients. This isn’t to say that there weren’t grim prospects for Kildare’s patients. I was surprised to see (and confirmed by checking archives for relevant articles in the New England Journal of Medicine) that leukemia and aplastic anemia were death sentences. It’s amazing how far we have progressed.

Once I had finished watching the series (a daunting task as there were 191 episodes), I decided that I wanted to check out the source material: The novels written by Max Brand (a pen name for Frederick Schiller Faust better known for his western novels). Using wikipedia as my guide, I tried to read the books in order, though that ended up being a bit difficult as some of them were compilations of short stories that appeared in various magazines (including, incredibly, Cosmopolitan!)

Here is the list of books and the order in which I read them:

Young Dr. Kildare
Calling Dr. Kildare
The Secret of Dr. Kildare
Dr. Kildare’s Hardest Case
Dr. Kildare Goes Home
Dr. Kildare’s Crisis
The People vs. Dr. Kildare

My problem with reading the books is that I’d started my Kildare journey by watching the TV series which really didn’t resemble the books except for relationship of the greenhorn Kildare to the old and wiser Dr Gillespie. In fact, as I mentioned to my husband, I thought that the dialogue, situations, and characterizations would work well with Brand’s cowboy novels, but not so much for his medical ones. The characterizations were very superficial, just enough to drive the plot and honestly, the characters weren’t all that interesting. But what comes through and is carried onto the TV series is Kildare’s devotion to his patients and his willingness to do what ever was necessary.

While I haven’t watched the movies (yet), I am in the process of listening to the radio plays (purchased from Old Time Radio Catalog — if you are interested in old-time radio, you need to check it out and the prices are very reasonable!) and from what I am able to gather, the radio plays are very similar to the movies.

My obsession interest didn’t stop there. I already had all the collected volumes of comic books and the Whitman books but what I didn’t have nor did I know about were the daily comic strips written and drawn by Ken Ball. It started in 1962 and ceased in 1984. The first volume of reprints was just published and available on Amazon:
DR. KILDARE Dailies — December 1962 – April 1963 — A Golden Age Newspaper Comic Strip (Golden Age Reprints by StarSpan)

The book of reprints is fun to read though the printing in the book is uneven. The artist used Richard Chamberlain as the model for James Kildare but Dr Gillespie is definitely not Raymond Massey. Given my interest with Dr Kildare, I was glad to add it to my collection and look forward to even more collected reprints.

So there you have it, my… uhm… obsession with Kildare. I guess there could be worst things to be infatuated with. 🙂

Until We Come Up With Something Witty To Say…