FLASHBACK: Former 'Dynasty' Actor Paul Keenan Suffering From AIDS (1986)

AIDS patient Paul Keenan is assisted by volunteer Lorna Kelly at St.
Clare's Hospital
Former Dynasty Actor Paul Keenan Suffering From AIDS

Associated Press
July 12, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Although the admission he has AIDS probably means he won't work in Hollywood again, former Dynasty actor Paul Francis Keenan says his first priority is fighting the deadly disease.

"I believe my focus is to be healed from this disease and to live; whatever else happens after that, happens," said Keenan, who is speaking out to help victims of AIDS, which also afflicted fellow Dynasty actor Rock Hudson, who died Oct. 2.

Keenan, 30, learned he had acquired immune deficiency syndrome about seven weeks ago.

"When you have AIDS, you really have to face the fact that this could be a fatal disease," he said in an interview from New York, where he was recently admitted to St. Clare's Hospital and Health Centre. "You're dealing with things that are more important than the narcissistic Hollywood type of life."

Keenan, who appeared as stable hand Tony Driscoll in five episodes of Dynasty in 1982 and eight in 1984, is speaking out about the disease and the need to help victims.

In the days before Hudson died at age 59 from complications of AIDS, his spokesmen disclosed he had the disease. Keenan goes beyond that, acknowledging he contracted AIDS through sexual contact with another man.

"I don't believe AIDS is something to be ashamed of, something that I should have to keep a secret," Keenan said. "I am very proud of who I am, very proud of the things I'm trying to do."

Although Keenan is the second member of the Dynasty cast to be afflicted with AIDS, a spokesman for the show said it is only a coincidence.

Keenan said there is no chance he contracted AIDS from Hudson, who was 59 when he died Oct. 2. He said Hudson was only a friend and they never worked together.

The show's spokesperson said other actors on the ABC-TV nighttime soap opera are taking the news in stride.

"While there might be panic in some quarters, there's no panic on Dynasty," said Rachel McCallister of Lippin and Grant, Inc.

She said Keenan's disclosure probably ends his chances for work in Hollywood, but added that the reluctance to hire people with the fatal disease "is pretty much not just in Hollywood. It's everywhere, at least that's what I read."

Keenan concealed his homosexuality while working in image-obsessed Hollywood.

"When I was 18, I came out of the closet," he said. "My family knew. Everyone who was a peer knew. When I was acting and my career started to take off, it was suggested to me that I go into a closet I had never known. When I left Los Angeles one and a half years ago, I decided I wouldn't do that anymore."

The last acting job for Keenan, who once portrayed Todd Chandler on the daytime TV soap opera Days of our Lives, was as the male romantic lead in the 1984 CBS-TV movie Summer Fantasy opposite Julianne Phillips, who later married rock superstar Bruce Springsteen.

Keenan, who is taking an experimental anti-AIDS drug, wants to use his illness to call attention to the disease.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Paul Keenan died on December 11, 1986 at age 31. Here's a photo of Keenan with the cast of Days of our Lives in 1980.

RELATED:
- World AIDS Day: Remembering Those We Lost
- FLASHBACK: Deidre Hall's Red Ribbon Controversy 1993
FLASHBACK: An AIDS Nursing Home Finds It Is No Longer the Last Stop (Joseph Breen 1997)

3 comments:

  1. God Bless You, Paul. I Had A Major Big-Time Crush On You When Watching You On Both DOOL & DYNASTY--Sigh!

    Brian :-)

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  2. It took so much courage to admit you had the disease back then. To go even further and tell the world you got it from another man was an act of great bravery. Thinking of Paul today.

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  3. So sad dynasty just started showing again so it's my third time watching the full series. The first time around I was 11 years old and I believe it's dynasty that gave me the will to succeed in life and strive to better myself. This time watching dynasty I noticed Tony (Paul Keenan) and thought imagine if he was gay as he is stunning and just thought I wonder what he looks like today 36 years on only to find he has died aged 31 and 1 day. Had he found he was HIV+ today he could of lived a long normal life. So sad he's gone so young to this terrible disease. It also upset me as so many characters of dynasty are no longer with us like Blake Joseph Cecil Colby Dr Tuscany etc and yet here they all are on our tv screens again today giving us enjoyment. It's just so weird looking at them and thinking they no longer exist as actors and Paul here has now been gone over 36 years. He should still be here today may he RIP I know a few people who are positive one of which swears they have a cure for hiv but won't release it as they want to make billions out of treatment drugs first. If this is true it's disgusting. I also heard of a baby born positive and who later became hiv- he no longer had the disease. I remember there being such excitement that they should be able to form antibodies or a vaccine from this baby but nothing was heard about this child ever since. Hiv didn't exist 100 years ago we surely must be able to find a cure for it soon. There is prophylactic treatments given to those exposed to hiv so why can't some kind of vaccination be produced to prevent spread of hiv until all cases are eradicated?

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