The pair met on the set of The Thorn Birds (he played Meggie's errant husband) and are one of Australia's enduring celebrity couples, known for their laidback barbecues attended by the likes of Richard E Grant and Nicole Kidman.
Ward, who still does occasional acting, moved to Brown’s native Australia, where she has directed television series.“As an actress, obviously you need a bit of talent,” she continued.“The first thing people say is, ‘God, you really look good! ” — half an hour after his character had left the stage. So adored is he that when David Rabe’s harrowing drama ended the other night, the woman next to me sighed, “I can’t believe I was so close to Richard Chamberlain! At 80, his voice is shockingly strong — a tribute, he says, to years of singing lessons — and he has an actorly way of punching out certain words. “We had five people in three bedrooms, 1¹/₄ bathrooms, one telephone, one car.” He says he dreamed of being an actor, but was so shy and withdrawn that he majored in art until his college performance in “Arms and the Man” brought down the house. He said: ‘There is still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture.
It’s regrettable, it’s stupid, it’s heartless and it’s immoral, but there it is.‘For an actor to be working at all is a kind of miracle, because most actors aren’t, so it’s just silly for a working actor to say, “Oh, I don’t care if anybody knows I’m gay” – especially if you’re a leading man.‘Personally, I wouldn’t advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out.’ Chamberlain told American gay magazine The Advocate: ‘Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made, its still dangerous for an actor to talk about that in our extremely misguided culture.’Referring to a ban on gay marriages in California, he added: ‘Please, don’t pretend that we’re suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted.’The American actor kept his homosexuality secret for decades because he felt it put his career at a disadvantage and feared that prejudice would prevent him playing lead roles.She attended Hatherop Castle School, Hatherop, Gloucestershire, During her modelling career, she was featured on the covers of Vogue, Harper's & Queen and Cosmopolitan magazines.After moving to the United States in 1977, she appeared in television adverts such as the Lincoln Mercury "Cougar Girl" In 1981 she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for "New Star of the Year" for her role in the film Sharky's Machine starring with Burt Reynolds.In fact, she can barely bring herself to mention her starring role in the 1983 television series The Thorn Birds. 'Pure melodramatic slush.' She covers her face with her hands. I felt very uncomfortable with it.' You sense that it has taken many years for Ward, now 52, to feel at ease with herself.Ward beat actresses such as Michelle Pfeiffer to the role of the beguiling Meggie Cleary, whose scandalous affair with the family priest (Richard Chamberlain) gripped audiences and made her an international star. 'I mean, that's by far the most successful thing I was involved in. As the Earl of Dudley's niece, Ward was brought up in Cornwell Manor in the Cotswolds, and raised to follow the conventions of her class: to marry within her circle and become a society wife. I always felt my temperature was too hot for England, a bit too emotional for it.' Since 1983 Ward has lived in Australia, married to the Australian actor Bryan Brown, with whom she has three children.But the veteran actor now says he would never have got the parts if producers had found out he was gay.