Dr. Kildare

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This article is about the pulp fiction, film, radio, comic and television character. For the 1960s American TV series, see Dr. Kildare (TV series).
Dr. James Kildare
First appearance "Internes Can't Take Money,"
short story by Max Brand published in Cosmopolitan magazine, Mar. 1936
Created by Frederick Schiller Faust
(as Max Brand)
Portrayed by (1) Joel McCrea
(Internes Can't Take Money,
1937 Paramount film)
(2) Lew Ayres
(1930s-40s MGM film series
and 1950s radio series)
(3) Richard Chamberlain
(Dr. Kildare,
1961-66 NBC TV series)
(4) Mark Jenkins
(Young Dr. Kildare
1972-73 syndicated TV series)
Nickname(s) "Jimmy" Kildare
Gender Male
Occupation Physician
Title Dr.
Nationality American

Dr. James Kildare is a fictional American medical doctor character, originally created in the 1930s by the author Frederick Schiller Faust under the pen name Max Brand. Shortly after the character's first appearance in a magazine story, Paramount Pictures used the story and character as the basis for the 1937 film Internes Can't Take Money. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) subsequently acquired the rights and featured Kildare as the primary character in a series of American theatrical films in the late 1930s and early 1940s, several of which were co-written by Faust (as Max Brand), who also continued to write magazine stories and novels about the character until the early 1940s.[1][2] The Kildare character was later featured in an early 1950s radio series,[3] a 1960s television series,[4] a comic book[5] and comic strip[6] based on the 1960s TV show, and a short-lived second 1970s television series.[7][8][9]

Magazine stories and novels[edit]

Original series by Frederick Schiller Faust (as Max Brand)[edit]

The author Frederick Schiller Faust, writing as Max Brand, created the character of "Dr. James Kildare" as a fictionalized version of his college friend, Dr. George Winthrop "Dixie" Fish, a New York surgeon. He first introduced the character in a pulp fiction short story, "Internes Can't Take Money," that appeared in the March 1936 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. A second Kildare story, "Whiskey Sour," was published in Cosmopolitan in April 1938. In these early stories, Dr. James "Jimmy" Kildare is an aspiring surgeon who leaves his parents' farm to practice at a fictional big city hospital, and through his work, comes into contact with underworld criminals. The first Kildare film, Internes Can't Take Money (1937), based on the short story of the same title and made by Paramount, followed this version of the character.

In 1938, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) contracted with Faust to acquire the rights to the Kildare character along with Faust's services as a film story writer. Faust then made major changes to the character to fit MGM's idea for a new movie series, including changing Kildare's specialty to diagnostics rather than surgery, introducing the character of Kildare's superior "Dr. Leonard Gillespie," de-emphasizing the criminal elements, and restarting the story from Kildare's first arrival at the city hospital. Faust (as Max Brand) collaborated with MGM on its Kildare film series starting with the first MGM series release, Young Dr. Kildare (1938) and continuing through The People vs. Dr. Kildare (1941). During this time, Faust wrote several original Kildare stories which were first published in magazines, later republished in novel form, and made into films by MGM. The stories were written prior to the films being made, and were not published as movie tie-ins.

After The People vs. Dr. Kildare, Faust and MGM parted ways. Faust was not involved in Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day, Dr. Kildare's Victory, or any of the subsequent films featuring Dr. Gillespie, although Faust (as Max Brand) continued to receive a credit for creating the characters. Faust's last two Kildare stories, "Dr. Kildare's Hardest Case" (published in 1942) and the unfinished story "Dr. Kildare's Dilemma" (posthumously published in the early 1970s), were not made into films. In 1944, Faust was killed in Italy while working as a war correspondent.

Table of "Dr. Kildare" stories authored by Frederick Schiller Faust (as Max Brand)[edit]

The following table lists the Max Brand-authored Kildare stories in chronological order of first publication.[10] Due to the continuing popularity of the characters in film, radio and television series, many reprints, different formats, and different versions of the original Kildare books have since been released.

Story title Magazine publication[10] First book publication[10]
(does not include later reprints)
Film based on story Notes
"Internes Can't Take Money" Cosmopolitan, Mar. 1936 Included in The Collected Stories of Max Brand (Robert and Jane Easton, ed.), Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1994, p. 218. Internes Can't Take Money (1937) First appearance of Dr. Kildare character; basis for first Kildare film, made by Paramount.
"Whiskey Sour" Cosmopolitan, Apr. 1938 None None MGM acquired the rights to this story as a possible concept for a Kildare film, but it was never developed.
"Young Dr. Kildare" Serialized in three parts in Argosy :
Dec. 17, 1938 (part 1); Dec. 24, 1938 (part 2); Dec. 31, 1938 (part 3)
Young Dr. Kildare, Dodd, Mead (1940) Young Dr. Kildare (1938) Basis for first film in Kildare series made by MGM; first appearance of Dr. Gillespie character.
"Calling Dr. Kildare" Serialized in three parts in Argosy :
Mar. 25, 1939 (part 1); Apr. 1, 1939 (part 2); Apr. 8, 1939 (part 3)
Calling Dr. Kildare, Dodd, Mead (1940) Calling Dr. Kildare (1939) Basis for second film in MGM series.
"The Secret of Dr. Kildare" Cosmopolitan, Sept. 1939
(condensed version)
The Secret of Dr. Kildare, Dodd, Mead (1940) The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939) Basis for third film in MGM series.
"Dr. Kildare's Girl"
(alternate title:
"Dr. Kildare's Search")
Photoplay, Apr. 1940 Dr. Kildare's Search, Dodd, Mead (1942)
(compilation of "Dr. Kildare's Girl" and "Dr. Kildare's Hardest Case")
Dr. Kildare's Strange Case (1940) Basis for fourth film in MGM series.
"Dr. Kildare Goes Home" Serialized in four parts in Argosy : Jun. 1, 1940 (part 1); Jun. 8, 1940 (part 2); Jun. 15, 1940 (part 3); Jun. 22, 1940 (part 4) Dr. Kildare Goes Home, Dodd, Mead (1941)
(alternate title: Dr. Kildare Takes Charge)
Dr. Kildare Goes Home (1940) Basis for fifth film in MGM series.
"Dr. Kildare's Crisis" Serialized in four parts in Argosy : Dec. 21, 1940 (part 1); Dec. 28, 1940 (part 2); Jan. 4, 1940 (part 3); Jan. 11, 1941 (part 4) Dr. Kildare's Crisis, Dodd, Mead (1942) Dr. Kildare's Crisis (1940) Basis for sixth film in MGM series.
"The People vs. Dr. Kildare" Cosmopolitan, May 1941
(condensed version)
Dr. Kildare's Trial, Dodd, Mead (1942) The People vs. Dr. Kildare (1941) Basis for seventh film in MGM series; last collaboration between Faust and MGM.
"Dr. Kildare's Hardest Case" Cosmopolitan, Mar. 1942 Dr. Kildare's Search, Dodd, Mead (1942)
(compilation of "Dr. Kildare's Girl" and "Dr. Kildare's Hardest Case")
None Faust's last complete Kildare story.
"Dr. Kildare's Dilemma" (unfinished four-part story) Published in two parts in The Faust Collector, a Los Angeles fanzine edited by William Clark:
Feb. 1971 (part 1); Jan. 1973 (part 2)
A restored fragment was included in The Max Brand Companion (Jon Tuska et al., ed.), Greenwood Press, 1996, p. 318. None Faust's last Kildare story, never finished; posthumously published in the 1970s in unfinished form.

Aside from the Kildare stories, Faust (as Max Brand) wrote only one other medical story, "My People," which appeared in the August 1940 issue of Cosmopolitan. "My People" featured a character, "Dr. Maynard," who was similar to Dr. Kildare. MGM acquired the rights to "My People" as a possible concept for a Kildare film, but it was never developed.

Television series tie-ins by other authors[edit]

The popularity of the first Dr. Kildare TV series during the 1960s resulted in a number of contemporary tie-in novels by several different authors. Several were released in mass-market paperback form by Lancer Books, while titles aimed at preteen and teenage readers were published by Whitman. Known titles are listed below.

By Robert C. Ackworth:

  • Dr. Kildare (Lancer, 1962)
  • Dr. Kildare Assigned to Trouble (Lancer, 1963)

By Norman A. Daniels:

  • Dr. Kildare's Secret Romance (Lancer, 1962)
  • Dr. Kildare's Finest Hour (Lancer, 1963)

By William Johnston:

  • Dr. Kildare: The Faces of Love (Lancer, 1963)
  • Dr. Kildare: The Heart Has an Answer (Lancer, 1963)
  • Dr. Kildare: The Magic Key (Whitman, 1964) (with Al Andersen, illustrator)


Internes Can't Take Money (1937 Paramount film)[edit]

The character of "Dr. Kildare" first appeared on film in the 1937 Paramount film, Internes Can't Take Money, based on Max Brand's previously published short story of the same name and starring Joel McCrea as Dr. Kildare. The plot focused on Dr. Kildare's attempt to help a young female ex-convict (played by Barbara Stanwyck) locate her child. Paramount did not plan any further Kildare films, probably because box office returns did not meet expectations.[1]

MGM film series (1930s-1940s)[edit]

MGM had noted the popularity of the Kildare character in pulp magazines and, following the release of Internes Can't Take Money, saw an opportunity to obtain an undervalued property and develop a successful film series.[1] In 1938, MGM entered into a deal with author Frederick Schiller Faust (as Max Brand) to acquire the rights to "Dr. Kildare" and have Faust work with MGM on developing stories for a film series. Seven "Dr. Kildare" films were subsequently made by MGM based on stories originally written by Faust. After The People vs. Dr. Kildare (1941), Faust and MGM ended their collaboration and MGM continued the series using stories by other writers, though Faust (as Max Brand) still received a credit for creating the characters.

In the MGM series, the "Dr. Kildare" character (played by Lew Ayres) first appears as a medical intern newly arrived at a New York City hospital, where he attracts the attention of a respected older physician and skilled diagnostician, Dr. Leonard Gillespie (played by Lionel Barrymore). After becoming a doctor, Kildare faces a number of professional and personal challenges in the course of his work, while being mentored by Gillespie.[1]

In 1942, during the making of the tenth film in the MGM series, originally titled Born to Be Bad, Ayres was drafted to serve in WWII and declared himself a conscientious objector.[11] The resulting negative publicity caused MGM to cut Ayres from the film, eliminate the character of Kildare, and change the film's focus to Barrymore's character Gillespie, eventually releasing the revamped film as Calling Dr. Gillespie (1942).[12] The character of a young doctor mentored by the experienced Dr. Gillespie was played by Philip Dorn (as "Dr. John Hunter Gerniede"). MGM made several more films featuring the Dr. Gillespie character mentoring various young doctors played by Van Johnson (as "Dr. Randall 'Red' Adams"), Keye Luke (as "Dr. Lee Wong How"), and James Craig (as "Dr. Tommy Coalt").

MGM films featuring Dr. Kildare[edit]

Later MGM films without Dr. Kildare[edit]


Lionel Barrymore and Lew Ayres performed a scene from their soon-to-be-released film, Young Dr. Kildare, on MGM's "Good News of 1939" program, October 13, 1938[citation needed].

In the summer of 1949, MGM reunited Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore to record the radio series, The Story of Dr. Kildare, scripted by Les Crutchfield, Jean Holloway and others. After broadcasts on WMGM New York from February 1, 1950 to August 3, 1951, the series was syndicated to other stations during the 1950s. The supporting cast included Ted Osborne as hospital administrator Dr. Carew, Jane Webb as nurse Mary Lamont and Virginia Gregg as Nurse Parker, labeled "Nosy Parker" by Gillespie, with appearances by William Conrad, Stacy Harris, Jay Novello, Isabel Jewell and Jack Webb.


In the 1960s, Dr. Kildare was a NBC medical drama television series produced by MGM Television and inspired by the original Dr. Kildare stories and films. The series ran between 1961 and 1966, encompassing a total of 190 episodes in five seasons. The first two seasons told the story of Dr. James Kildare (Richard Chamberlain), working in a fictional large metropolitan hospital while trying to learn his profession, deal with his patients' problems and earn the respect of the senior Dr. Leonard Gillespie (Raymond Massey). In the third season, Dr. Kildare was promoted to resident and the series began to focus more on the stories of the patients and their families.[13]

In 1972, MGM Television created a short-lived syndicated drama series called Young Dr. Kildare, starring Mark Jenkins as Dr. James Kildare and Gary Merrill as Dr. Leonard Gillespie. 24 episodes were produced.[14]


Dell Comics' short-lived comic book based on the 1960s Dr. Kildare television show lasted nine issues from 1962 to 1965. The first two issues were part of the Four Color Comics line.

Ken Bald drew the Dr. Kildare comic strip for 21 years. Premiering on October 15, 1962, it ran until 1983. [15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Mavis, Paul. "Dr. Kildare Movie Collection (Warner Archive Collection)" (DVD review). DVDtalk.com, Mar. 16, 2014, accessed Mar. 29, 2015.
  2. ^ Movies News Desk (21 January 2014). "Dr. Kildare Among Warner Archive's New Releases". Broadway World. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  3. ^ The Digital Deli Online, "The Story of Dr. Kildare (Radio Program)." digitaldeliftp.com, accessed Mar. 29, 2015.
  4. ^ Mcneil, Alex. Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present - Revised Edition. Penguin Books, 1996, p. 225. ISBN 978-0140249163.
  5. ^ Polite Dissent (blog), "The Brief 'Golden Age of Medical Comics'," politedissent.com, May 28, 2012, accessed Mar. 29, 2015.
  6. ^ The Archivist, "Ask the Archivist: Calling Dr. Kildare." The Comics Kingdom Blog, comicskingdom.com, Oct. 24, 2012, accessed Mar. 29, 2015.
  7. ^ "Young Dr. Kildare" overview, TVguide.com, accessed Mar. 29, 2015.
  8. ^ Midge Decter: Who killed Dr. Kildare, In: T. William Boxx and Gary M. Quinlivan (Her.): Culture in Crisis and the Renewal of Civil Life, Rowman & Littlefield 1996, ISBN 0847682889, S. 49f., 52f.
  9. ^ Ann B. Shteir, Bernard V. Lightman: Figuring it out: science, gender, and visual culture, University Press of New England 2006, ISBN 1584656034, S. 328.
  10. ^ a b c Unless otherwise specified, all publication data in the table is sourced from the official Max Brand website at MaxBrandOnline.com. See Bibliography of Max Brand works, MaxBrandOnline.com, accessed Mar. 28, 2015.
  11. ^ "Ayres Backs His Project Religiously : Film: Actor best known for 'Dr. Kildare' says his documentary, 'Altars of the World,' represents the bigger part of his life today.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Lionel Barrymore Has Title Role in 'Calling Dr. Gillespie,' of the Dr. Kildare Series, at Loew' s Criterion Theatre". The New York Times. July 9, 1942. 
  13. ^ "Dr. Kildare - NBC (ended 1966)" (overview), TV.com, accessed Mar. 28, 2015.
  14. ^ "Young Dr. Kildare" TV Series entry at Internet Movie Database, imdb.com, accessed Mar. 28, 2015.
  15. ^ "1962 Timeline: October 15. Dr. Kildare, a comic strip by Ken Bald based on the TV series, begins its 21-year run.” American Comic Book Chronicles by John Wells. TwoMorrows Publishing, 2012, Page 77."

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]