The day after “Marcus Welby, M.D.” premiered in 1969, CBS launched its own competing medical drama. “Medical Center” starred Indiana-born Chad Everett as Dr. Joe Gannon, a handsome young Los Angeles surgeon. The role served as Chat Everett’s big break, and his performance opposite seasoned actor James Daly was met with rave reviews.
From the beginning, “Medical Center” set itself apart by striving for a real life sense of medical accuracy, an effort championed by Everett.
“We used to have a laugh a minute watching some of our peers in medical shows,” Everett remembered. “The guy would come in – he is gowned, he is masked, he is scrubbed, he is gloved. And there is the patient’s head. And he goes, ‘Mrs. Brown you’re going to be fine don’t you worry now.’ Pats her on the head and calls for a scalpel. Staph infection!! I mean, it’s a staph infection.”
Despite his adherence to realistic portrayals of the medical profession, Everett’s acting chops drove him to request a bit more dramatic effect from the producers. After wrapping the first season of “Medical Center” without ever losing a patient, Everett knew that that the audience desired a stronger life-and-death storyline. The show’s creators agreed, and Everett performed the devastating scene with conviction and poise.
After seeing “Medical Center” through four successful seasons, Everett appeared in multiple films, taking on major roles in the hilarious Airplane II: The Sequel and cult favorite Mulholland Drive. He also guest starred in over forty popular television series, including Melrose Place, The Nanny, Murder, She Wrote and Touched By An Angel. Chad Everett passed away from lung cancer in 2012 at the age of 75.
“Medical Center” & The Fight for Equal Rights
Actor Chad Everett and the rest of the “Medical Center” crew always knew they wanted to do more than just entertain audiences with their hit medical drama. They wanted to use the television platform to take a stand on important issues. So, when Everett and the team learned that a woman could be fired from her job for having a mastectomy, they collaborated on a special episode designed to help raise awareness around this pressing issue. “We did it in conjunction with an Assemblyman named Alfred Siegler and Bill 1194,” Everett explained. The episode, which aired in 1974, significantly aided in pushing a landmark anti-discrimination bill through the California legislature.
This wasn’t Chad Everett’s first exposure to national politics, In 1972, the popular, handsome actor was asked to speak at the Republican National Convention. Everett, a devout Christian, remained active in social issues and philanthropy throughout his long career, co-hosting the Labor Day Jerry Lewis Telethon annually and entertaining various speaking engagements.