Don received an Emmy nomination for an appearance on Gunsmoke. He won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 1963 for his role in No Strings and the Best Screenplay Award at the Paris Film Festival for The Mafu Cage.
He began singing on the radio at age nine, and sang in local bands beginning at fourteen. He performed on the International Harvesters Show as part of the trio The Enchanters. After that he sang with the Henry Bussey Orchestra. He was drafted and spent five months in Chicago playing in the Army Band. He also began to explore writing while in the service.
After his brief college stay, Don went to Hollywood and took a job singing in a lounge. Later he sang for three and a half years as a production singer for the Moulon Rouge. He landed a few small roles, but his big break came when producer Lawrence Kasha advised him to go to New York, which he did. Within a few weeks, he was offered parts in five Broadway plays. He chose No Strings and played it for 628 performances.
Don married his first wife, Georgeanna McIntosh in Greenwich Village Methodist Church in May, 1962. They met while working on Parade in Los Angeles. She worked backstage. Their son David Colin Chastain was born March 22, 1964. Don and Georgeanna separated a couple years later, and Georgeanna married one of Don's best friends, pianist Roger Kellaway.
Don began his acting career with small roles, and later branched out into stage, movies, television, and writing. His strong, distinctive voice was a plus, in addition to his good looks. He also performed as a jazz singer with Jon Hendricks and Count Basie's Band. Don died of colon cancer on Aug 9, 2002. He is survived by his second wife Jill and his son Colin.
Early in his career, Don appeared in several movies and dubbed the singing voices in more than twenty others.
The Young Lions (1958)
South Pacific (1958)
Leather Jacket (unknown)
After almost ten years of guest appearances on television, and a long hiatus from film, Don returned to his movie career playing major roles. He appeared in five movies.
Flareup 1969. Flareup starred Raquel Welch, and Don Chastain received fourth billing in his first movie. Raquel, as Michelle, is a go-go dancer pursued by an angry man who has killed two of her friends and is trying to kill her. The action takes place in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Don Chastain plays Lieutenant Manion, who is in charge of the case. One reviewer refers to it as campy, while another says it is strictly bottom of the barrel fare. See also a third and fourth review.
CC and Company 1970. The next year after Flareup, Don appeared in CC and Company, which stars Joe Namath and Anne Margaret. Don Chastain gets eighth billing, though I think he is more important than that in the movie. Joe Namath joins a motorcycle gang, and then becomes involved with Anne Margaret, a fashion reporter. Danger abounds as the leader of the biker gang turns against Namath. At the same time, Joe Namath enters a motorcycle race with the intention of beating establishment-sponsored Eddie Ellis, played by Don Chastain.
The Black Godfather 1974. In his third movie, Don received third billing. However, there are no major stars. It may have hurt Don's movie career, as he never again appeared on the big screen. His next two movies were made for TV. The Black Godfather is about a rising black crime boss who is trying to drive a white heroin boss (Don Chastain) out of the black neighborhood. Trailer
Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love 1979. Don's first TV movie is based on the true story of the Kaufmans, who are parents to an autistic son. They are dissatisfied with the response of professionals to their situation and decide to take their own course in addressing autism. Don received tenth billing in the movie as Dr. Corelf. The movie was telecast as an NBC Theater presentation, as part of the network's 1978 Year of the Child celebration, and it won the Humanitas Prize. After the movie aired, the Kaufmans established the The Son-Rise Program.
Woman of the Year 1984. Don Chastain's final movie was a made-for-TV musical comedy remake of the 1942 movie of the same title that starred Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. The movie was first written for the stage in 1981. The show opened on Broadway in 1981 with Lauren Bacall in the starring role on stage. It ran more than 770 performances on Broadway, with Raquel Welch and Debbie Reynolds also playing the role. The plot concerns Tess Harding, a very successful career woman, whose greater success is a problem to her husband, who is also a powerful career person. In the TV movie, Barbara Eden plays Tess and Don Chastain plays her husband, Sam Craig, and of course he receives second billing. Barbara Eden and Don Chastain played the same roles in the national touring production of the musical in 1984. To Index
Don began his television career in 1960 and played guest roles in many TV series, including The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mannix, and The FBI. Interestingly, he appeared in five episodes of The Big Valley in 1967-68, playing a different character in each one. He was nominated for an Emmy for an appearance on Gunsmoke.
In 1969, Don landed his first regular role, and he was a co-star. He was chosen from among 250 actors vying for the spot. The program was The Debbie Reynolds Show. Debbie Thompson (Debbie Reynolds) was a housewife who wanted to be a newspaper reporter. Don Chastain played her husband, Jim Thompson, who was a successful Sports Writer for a major newspaper. Debbie's shenanigans were always putting him on the spot. The show was a copycat of I Love Lucy, and it even had a Fred and Ethel type couple that were involved in the Thompson's daily life. The show lasted only one season: twenty-six epidsodes from September 16, 1969 to April 14, 1970.
In February, 1970, Photoplay Magazine listed Don among its 20 promising new stars: Dyan Cannon; Teresa Graves; Ali MacGraw; Liza Minnelli; Diana Muldaur; Denise Nicholas; Pamela Rodgers; Joanna Shimkus; Julie Sommars; Karen Valentine; James Brolin; Don Chastain; Michael Douglas; Elliott Gould; Arlo Guthrie; David Hartman; Lloyd Haynes; Robert Lipton; Michael Parks; and Jon Voight.
Of the thirty-six periodicals Chastain Central has discovered with stories or photos of Don Chastain, twenty-nine are from 1969-1970, the same period as The Debbie Reynolds Show. However, in 1969 Don appeared in his first big movie: Flareup with Raquel Welch. The two events together may have catapulted him as a celebrity into the public consciousness. The mix of TV and Movie magazines indicates that this is likely the case. An earlier magazine, from 1964, was with Edie Adams, so perhaps it was due to the stage play Rain, which they worked on together in 1963. The magazines from later years are all soap related and reflect that development in Don's career.
After The Debbie Reynolds Show, Don continued to make guest appearances on TV series, as he did until the end of his career. See an entire episode of Emergency from 1974, where Don plays Curtis Murdock, a very religious father of an injured young girl. In 1977, he appeared for the first time in a daytime soap, General Hospital. He played a recurring role as Dr. Tom Baldwin, and maintained that role for the next ten years. This gave him a strong foothold in soaps. From 1977 until 2001, in addition to General Hospital, Don appeared in One Life to Live, Search for Tomorrow, All My Children, Guiding Light, Another World, and As the World Turns.
In the fall of 1993, Don played Mr. Lester (second billing) on a children's program called CityKids. It lasted for one season. Don continued to guest star on numerous TV series right up until he died in 2002, and he had a recurring role as Ted for five episodes of Rhoda in 1975-1976. His last appearance was in an episode of Scrubs which aired on March 5, 2002. To Index
Don Chastain's stage career was far more successful than his movie career. Chastain Central has not found any listing of all his plays. The following may be the most complete available. The strong-voiced, 6'3" actor won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 1963 for his role in No Strings.
Date unknown. Two on the Aisle. On Broadway.
1961 Parade. A Los Angeles stage production. Don met his first wife at this production.
1962 No Strings. (Mar 15, 1962 - Aug 3, 1963) Don went to New York from California and was offered five Broadway plays in about five weeks. He chose No Strings. No Strings opened in New York at the 54th Street Theatre on March 15, 1962 and ran for 580 performances. It featured Diahann Carroll and Richard Kiley. A Black fashion model and a white American novelist fall in love in Paris. Don is a friend of the novelist. No Strings won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 1963, and was Don's big break into stage. Soundtrack.
1963 Rain. With Edie Adams.
1964 Irma La Douce. June 15-27, 1964 at Casa Manana in Ft. Worth, Texas. It is a French romantic fable about a prostitute and her procurer, Nestor Le Fripe, played by Don Chastain. Nestor is a struggling law student who falls in love with Irma, and she promises to forsake all others except, of course, when she is working.
1966 It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman. (Mar 29, 1966 - Jul 16, 1966) Superman opened March 29, 1966 at the Alvin Theatre in New York City and ran for 129 performances. It is the story of Superman with all the usual themes. Don is a lab assistant who has a crush on Lois Lane. Soundtrack.
1966 (or 67) South Pacific. Venue unknown. Don played Lt. Cable. Florence Henderson BBB (Before Brady Bunch) headlined as Nellie Forbush. The only information Chastain Central has on this play is from the program, which is undated and does not state the venue. There is a handwritten date on the front of 1966, Sept. 3rd, but the significance of the date is unknown. Florence Henderson headlined the play at Lincoln Center in 1967, but Don does not seem to be part of that cast, so there may have been a separate tour. Don's bio in the program indicates that he had recently closed the Broadway musical hit Superman.
1970 Company. The musical opened in NYC on April 25, 1970 and ran for 705 performances. The cast includes Davis Gaines, Terri Bibb, William Parry, Walter Charles, Don Chastain, Karen Mason, Andy Umberger, Susan Cella, John Schiappa, Maureen Silliman, Dann Fink, Tia Speros, Kim Lindsay, Angela Lockett and Marie Danvers. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth. Directed by Larry Carpenter and choreographed by Daniel Pelzig.
1971 Coco. Coco ran on Broadway from December 18, 1969 to October 3, 1970 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York, starring Katharine Hepburn. It is a musical based on the life of designer Coco Chanel. Don Chastain was not part of the Broadway production, but he joined Katharine Hepburn for the national tour.
1972 Applause. Applause ran from Mar 30, 1970 to Jul 27, 1972 at the Palace Theatre in New York. It starred Lauren Bacall. Don Chastain joined Lauren Bacall for the national tour as the male lead. Based on the Bette Davis film All About Eve, a veteran actress takes Eve, a young, fledgling actress, under her wing, but Eve plans to steal both her career and her man.
1980 42nd Street. (Aug 25, 1980 - Jan 8, 1989) 42nd Street opened at the Majestic on August 25, 1980. Don Chastain stars in this play as director Julian Marsh, but he was not part of the original cast. Julian Marsh is producing a new Broadway show, Pretty Lady. A fresh face from Allentown, Pennsylvania arrives at the audition. Though rebuffed at first, she ultimately becomes the star of the show.
1983 Dance a Little Closer. (May 11, 1983 - May 11, 1983) Dance a Little Closer was the least successful of all the plays in which Don Chastain was involved. It opened at the Minskoff Theatre in New York on May 11, 1983 and closed the same night. However, a soundtrack is available. Set in a hotel in the Austrian Alps under the threat of war, a man tries to win back his love interest from another man. Synopsis. New York Times.
1983 Mrs. Farmer's Daughter. Off Broadway. Explores the life of rebellious actress, Frances Farmer. Review.
1984 Woman of the Year. See Woman of the Year in Movies.
1989 or later Bat Masterson's Last Regular Job. Off Broadway. In the summer of 1913, an aging Bat Masterson accepts an offer from New York for a celebrity referee appearance in a second-rate boxing match, in which he hopes to restore his reputation.
1990 Strike Up the Band. Strike Up the Band is a studio production of the original 1927 Gershwin play as restored by Tommy Krasker. A cheese mogul, Horace Fletcher (Don Chastain), pushes America to go to war with Switzerland over their protest of cheese tariffs. Soundtrack.
1992 Captains Courageous. Ford's Theater, Washington, DC. An adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's tale of a boy coming of age on the high seas. Don plays the captain. Review.
1996 Floyd Collins. Off Broadway. Based on the true story of a spelunker who was trapped while exploring Sand Cave near Cave City, Kentucky in 1925 and the ensuing rescue effort. Don plays Lee Collins, the father of the trapped explorer. While in his younger years, Don played the handsome leading man, his later years showcased rugged older characters (see photo). Floyd Collins page Review. Soundtrack.
1998 The Shoulder. (January 1998) Don Chastain is a farmer who fails his eye exam and loses his driver's license. He hitches a trailer to a John Deere riding mower and drives 250 miles to visit his brother. Soundtrack. New York Times. Soundtrack.
1998 Heartland. (July 30 - August 23, 1998) Off Broadway at the Norma Terris Theatre, Chester, CT. Three sisters reunite and stir childhood dreams and memories. Heartland
1998 Parade. (Dec 17, 1998 - Feb 28, 1999) Parade opened at the Lincoln Center in New York on December 17, 1998. Set in 1913, it is the true story of a Jewish man who is wrongly convicted of the murder of thirteen-year old girl. Don Chastain plays two parts: an old soldier in the opening number and as Judge Roan later in the play. It is in the opening, The Old Red Hills of Home, that Don shines. The Old Red Hills of Home was included in the collection, The Only Other Broadway CD You'll Ever Need. Parade Webpage. Soundtrack.
2000 The Ballad of Little Jo. (September 14 through November 5, 2000) Off Broadway at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago. Based on the true story of Josephine Monaghan, a Boston woman who travels to pioneer Idaho and is robbed and raped. She lives the rest of her life in Idaho as a man. We assume this is the production of The Ballad of Little Jo in which Don Chastain played. Review. To Index
Don Chastain's entertainment career included not just performance, but writing as well. He wrote a horror movie script released in 1978 as The Mafu Cage, starring Lee Grant and Carol Kane. It was also known as The Cage, Deviation, Don't Ring the Doorbell, and My Sister, My Love. Ellen lives with her disturbed younger sister, Cissy, who dresses in African clothing and dominates their home with African decor, sounds, and music. Cissy also has a monkey, Mafu, which she keeps in a large cage. Cissy kills her Mafu and then urgently wants another one, which she also kills. The death of the third Mafu drives Ellen to despair. Mafu Cage was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film in 1980 and won the Best Screenplay Award at the Paris Film Festival. See New York Times synopsis.
After playing the soaps for a few years, Don became a soaps writer. He was the head writer for Search for Tomorrow and began writing for As the World Turns in 1987, before he became an actor on the series. During that time, Don's wife Jill Diamond was music supervisor for As The World Turns. Don was working on another play about fathers and sons, which focused on Don's own father Clyde, but Chastain Central cannot confirm that the screen play was completed.
Sample from El Greco
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|Clyde Chastain was born November 1, 1907 in Dallas, Texas, and he began his boxing career in 1928 at age 20. His record (which appears below) shows: Won 42 (KOs 10) + 4 news; Lost 21; Drawn 8, for a total of 75 fights. A highlight of his career was defeating the legendary Maxie Rosenbloom in the ring. Clyde later joined the army for eighteen years.
Clyde's daughter-in-law, Jill Chastain, states that Clyde fought 152 bouts. Clyde was 5' 8 and fought as a light heavyweight. Clyde Chastain (Clyde "the Texas Tornado" Chastain) ended his professional career during WW11.
A different Clyde Chastain was fighting from Ashville, North Carolina in 1950-1959. His record shows Won 8 (4 ko's); Lost 9; Drawn 1, for a total of 18 fights. However, he is not the same person. In personal correspondence with Chastain Central, Don's wife Jill states, The second Clyde Chastain is NOT my father-in-law. My dad would've been 50's and never fought out of NC! If you check boxrec you will see the info is for another Clyde Chastain. I am involved in boxing so I know this for a fact.
|1937-02-02||Joey Parks||Houston, TX, USA||L KO 2|
|1936-03-19||Junior Munsell||Oklahoma City, OK, USA||L KO 2|
|1935-08-13||Kid Balsden||Houston, TX, USA||W KO 6|
|1934-09-18||Bob Davey||Houston, TX, USA||W PTS 10|
|1934-07-23||Joe Knight||Miami, FL, USA||L KO 6|
|1934-06-29||Al Gainer||West Haven, CT, USA||L TKO 5|
|1934-06-18||Eddie Mader||West Springfield, MA, USA||W TKO 5|
|1934-05-17||Wilson Dunn||Dallas, TX, USA||L PTS 10|
|1934-05-08||Eddie Dunway||Houston, TX, USA||W KO 2|
|1934-05-03||Al Stillman||St. Louis, MO, USA||W PTS 10|
|1934-04-16||Maxie Rosenbloom||Oklahoma City, OK, USA||W PTS 10|
|1934-03-08||Wilson Dunn||Dallas, TX, USA||W PTS 10|
|1934-01-16||Jack Van Noy||Oklahoma City, OK, USA||W KO 3|
|1933-12-16||Henry Firpo||West Palm Beach, FL, USA||L PTS 10|
|1933-12-12||Leroy Brown||Miami Beach, FL, USA||W PTS 10|
|1933-12-07||Harold (Millionaire) Murph||Dallas, TX, USA||W PTS 10|
|1933-11-28||Maxie Rosenbloom||Houston, TX, USA||D PTS 10|
|1933-10-24||Carl Knowles||Savannah, GA, USA||W PTS 10|
|1933-10-16||Maxie Rosenbloom||Chattanooga, TN, USA||D PTS 10|
|1933-09-04||Carl Knowles||Macon, GA, USA||W PTS 10|
|1933-08-21||Jack Denning||Asheville, NC, USA||D PTS 10|
|1933-06-28||Bob O'Malley||Cape Town, Cape, South Af||W KO 5|
|1933-06-03||Eddie Peirce||Johannesburg, Transvaal||D PTS 10|
|1933-05-31||Jack O'Malley||Cape Town, Cape, South Af||W KO 7|
|1933-04-08||Ben Foord||Durban, Natal, South Afri||L PTS 10|
|1933-04-02||Dave Carstens||Johannesburg, Transvaal||W PTS 10|
|1933-03-04||Ben Foord||Johannesburg, Transvaal||W PTS 10|
|1933-02-04||Ben Foord||Johannesburg, Transvaal||L PTS 10|
|1933-01-21||Dave Carstens||Johannesburg, Transvaal||D PTS 10|
|1932-10-24||Ambrose Palmer||Sydney, NSW, Australia||L PTS 12|
|1932-10-03||Adolph Hintz||Sydney, NSW, Australia||D PTS 12|
|1932-09-19||Tiger Jack Payne||Sydney, NSW, Australia||W TD 12|
|1932-08-01||Adolph Hintz||Sydney, NSW, Australia||W PTS 12|
|1932-07-18||Tony Gora||Sydney, NSW, Australia||W PTS 15|
|1932-03-22||Johnny Roberts||West Palm Beach, FL, USA||W KO 8|
|1932-03-14||Marlin Owens||Fort Worth, TX, USA||L PTS 6|
|1932-03-08||Ray Tramblie||West Palm Beach, FL, USA||L KO 3|
|1932-02-26||Mickey Patrick||Chicago, IL, USA||W PTS 6|
|1932-02-09||Ray Tramblie||West Palm Beach, FL, USA||L PTS 10|
|1932-01-20||Ray Swanson||Cairo, GA, USA||W PTS 10|
|1932-01-11||Frankie Wine||Miami, FL, USA||W PTS 10|
|1931-12-30||Bob Olin||Chicago, IL, USA||L PTS 10|
|1931-12-11||Humberto Curi||Chicago, IL, USA||W PTS 8|
|1931-09-17||Gorilla Jones||Milwaukee, WI, USA||L TKO 6|
|1931-08-31||Al Stillman||St. Louis, MO, USA||W NWS 10|
|1931-08-25||Rudy Marshall||Milwaukee, WI, USA||W PTS 10|
|1931-08-10||Al Stillman||Chicago, IL, USA||W PTS 8|
|1931-08-03||Jerry Crano||Chicago, IL, USA||W PTS 10|
|1931-07-09||Chick Raines||St. Louis, MO, USA||W NWS 10|
|1931-05-05||Joe Anderson||Indianapolis, IN, USA||W NWS 10|
|1931-01-05||Johnny Wagner||Springfield, MO, USA||W PTS 10|
|1930-12-26||Gorilla Jones||Akron, OH, USA||L KO 4|
|1930-09-22||Everett Strong||Tulsa, OK, USA||D PTS 10|
|1930-05-23||Chick Devlin||San Francisco, CA, USA||L PTS 10|
|1930-04-15||Billy Atkinson||Fort Sill, OK, USA||W PTS 10|
|1930-03-14||Rene DeVos||Chicago, IL, USA||L PTS 10|
|1930-02-07||Harry Ebbets||Chicago, IL, USA||W PTS 10|
|1930-01-06||Haakon Hansen||Chicago, IL, USA||W PTS 8|
|1929-09-06||Jackie Brady||Chicago, IL, USA||D PTS 10|
|1929-07-04||Frankie Russell||Chicago, IL, USA||W KO 5|
|1929-06-22||Young Corbett III||San Francisco, CA, USA||L PTS 10|
|1929-05-24||Jackie Fields||Chicago, IL, USA||L PTS 10|
|1929-04-23||Bobby Tracey||Chicago, IL, USA||W PTS 10|
|1929-04-09||Jackie Horner||Chicago, IL, USA||W KO 5|
|1929-03-12||My Sullivan||Chicago, IL, USA||L DQ 2|
|1928-01-20||Jack Doss||Dallas, TX, USA||W PTS 10|