Starlog Interview - Richard Anderson

By ISOBEL SILDEN

Starlog 1# Richard Andferson coverSteven Jaime Somers have bionic limbs, but it's Oscar Goldman who sometimes thinks he's leading a bionic life-sprinting as he does between the two hit ABC-TV series. And he's loving every minute of it.

Oscar Goldman, whose real name is Richard Anderson, says joyously: "It's a schizoid existence, being in two places almost at the same time. and this is the only instance where it has worked." He refers to Leo G. Car roll who played the same part in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and for a short time duplicated the feat in The Girl From U.N.C.L.E which series ceased being avuncular after a short season.

The setting is the Beverly Hills Hotel's posh Polo Lounge, where Anderson's favourite table is set in the outdoor gardens, under the shade of a huge tree. "Isn't it beautiful?" he surveys the flowering Gazanias, azaleas, pansies and ferns. He is appreciative of his surroundings, apparently oblivious to the whispers surrounding him: "It's Oscar Goldman!" "It's the man from The Six Million Dollar Man!" "It's the man from The Bionic Woman!"

It's a Saturday lunchtime, the only free day Anderson has had in weeks; the only one he can foresee for weeks to come. The Beautiful People are as fan-like as anyone else, and as admir. ing. He handles it in stride. He likes it

Richard Anderson"Recognition is great," he assents. "I can't go to the grocery store as easily as before, but I can still move around, because I'm really very low key."

That he is, but at a trim 175 pounds on his 6'3" person, he is not one who is easily overlooked. He does not look like an actor: this day his white shirt is mostly concealed by a white sweater checked iacket and tan corduroy slacks. One spots trim bare ankles above his casual shoes. He is en route to the beach to ride his bike for a few miles, after the interview is completed.

"I'm so glad to be here," he continues his reverie. "I am so fortunate, doing what I enjoy... acting... the camaraderie on the set ... every thing!"

A jaded observer of the Hollywood scene might consider this a "hype the actor saving what he thinks the interviewer wants to hear, Not so in Anderson's case: the man seems genuine, deep-thinking.
How did he get to be Oscar Goldman.?

"The phone rang and my agent said "There's a show called The Six Million Dollar Man.' And I said That sounds good!"

Undoubtedly, he thought he would either be or make six million dollars from this show, and he now allows four years later-that there is a potential of close to six million dollars to be made from both series.

At the time, one gathers that was not really his main concern. As Anderson puts it: "An actor has to act, has to work. I had always said I wanted to do every TV episode I could. I wanted everyone to see me on every show. There's no such thing as overexposure. They don't see all of you of every show-the audience, that is. They only peak at you. At the same time, the producers and network executives, who are also peaking, figure: 'He's working, he must be good. Let's get him for our show."

Richard Anderson as Oscar GoldmanHis philosophy has paid off. He can't even estimate how many TV appearances he has made. Before Anderson became Goldman he had been a Hollywood staple, learning his craft in countless movies.

He was born in Long Branch, N.J., to a wealthy family who lost their money during the 1929 stock market debacle. He grew up in Los Angeles. did his part to help save the world for democracy in World War II, and studied acting at the then-famous and illustrious Actors Lab in Hollywood. In 1947, Anderson began his acting career in summer stock in Santa Barbara and Laguna. He was signed to an MGM six-year contract and appeared in 26 films during that time.

His official biography states that he gained his releases from MGM in order to appear in the powerful film, Paths of Glory, which was filmed in Germany. Other noteworthy credits include Fox's The Long Hot Summer and Compulsion.

"Then I went to Broadway to do a play for the Theatre Guild, The Highest Tree."

It was not a high success, one gathers, so Anderson came west again and began his assault on television.

"And the picture came out just right," he concluded that portion of different nuances in the approaches the conversation. "You understand Anderson takes to his scenes with what I mean?"

Yes. What he visualized for his career has come about. To be sure, Anderson never saw himself co- starring in two hit series dealing with science fiction, because he wasn't an afficionado of the genre.

"I wasn't particularly interested in it, and I didn't know too much about it. I prefer to refer to it as 'science probability.' and I know far more about it now," he laughs.

Dedicated viewers of both shows are doubtless aware that there are different nuances in the approaches Anderson takes to his scenes with Lindsay (Jaime Somers) Wagner and Lee (Steve Austin) majors. He is delighted that we have noticed.

"You are seeing two sides of Oscar amd Richard," he explains. "Yes, there is a difference in playing in the two shows. jaime allows me to add some colors. She is a lady." he adds with fervent appreciation. "The Bionic Woman show is funnier, looser, because Lindsay has a relaxed humorous quality. The Six Million Dollar Man is more of a straight adventure show and Lee's a very strong, independant man. So that's the way his character comes across."

Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers
Using Oscar as a major link between the two shows has enabled the writers to continue
the relationship between Steve and Jaime.

What about this implied romance between Oscar and Jaime?

"Oh, it's definitely there," he confirms. But he won't suggest that the characters might be fooling around. He prefers to compare it to Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty. No one ever knew what they were up to when they weren't watching. He does believe that Oscar could be in love with Jaime. "He couldn't help himself." Anderson reasons.

Visitors are still unwelcome on the sets of both series, for the same reasons: the pressures of time and risk of distracting the actors. As a thorough professional, Anderson appreciates the opportunity to concentrate entirely on his character.

Richard with co-star Lee Majors"Movies can sometimes be an art," he will concede, "but they are always a business." Autographs get signed on your own time, not the company's.

Had he not decided to be an actor, what would he have done?

"Gone into government service," he replies promptly, and is more than somewhat surprised when he is reminded that that's exactly what he is doing for a living on the series.

It is not easy to capture the real Richard Anderson on paper. He is a supremely intense individual. He thinks out his sentences as carefully as an attorney would prepare a brief, from points A to B to C a logical conclusion. And yet there is humor, as low-key as the man himself. His smile flashes easily. There are just enough laugh lines around his eyes to give his face character. He's a man you would trust to take charge in any situation. Also, you would not care to be his opponent in the singles tennis games
that he relishes-if you cared about winning, that is. He is a very good tennis player and will probably join other Hollywood celebrities when they go to Monaco next year for their annual tournament.

"It would be nice to see Grace again," he muses. "We were under contract at MGM together."

Grace? Oh, the Princess, formerly little Grace Kelly from Philly. Of course. And he's not name dropping either. He's known them all. He was around during the movies' Golden Era. He freely admits that the late Gary Cooper was his idol.

Richard lovers his tennis"I learned so much from him. I asked him once what was the most important thing for an actor to have. "Good feet," he told me." Anderson laughs in loving appreciation and reminiscing. "Another time, I asked how he could act with the camera right up close, literally in his face. The audience would be there, right there. "Don't let them know you know it.' "he shares.

It is apparent that Anderson literally loves every moment of his life. "Success is great," he repeats more than once, cherishing and relishing in it.

Despite the frenetic work schedule he has assumed, there is still time for tennis. bike riding, and dining in good restaurants. He is now single, but does not rule out the possibility of marriage, although he does make it seem rather pontifical as he pronounces, "I am for the institution of marriage." When asked how he liked living in that institution he replies with a gutsy laugh and comments no more. And so he now lives alone in a hillside home, with a housekeeper coming in a few times a week to tidy.

"I swim. I'm building a Jacuzzi at my house. I eat good food; I stay healthy and I like the sun." He travels a great deal, too, for fun and for pleasure. Upcoming is a week in Vancouver for some syndicated television show tapings. Then another week in Hawaii doing commercials for a banking institution. ABC sent him to Australia for a three-week promotional tour last year and he enjoyed that particular ly tennis-playing on grass as they do there.

Richard Anderson in FORBIDDEN PLANETRichard in FORBIDDEN PLANET
Left: Yes , it is Richard Anderson as Engineer Olonzo Quinn from the all-time great, 1956 SF classic, Forbidden Planet. Right: Quinn and Cmdr. John J Adams (Leslie Nielson) examine a ruined klystron modulator. Unfortunately, Anderson's relationship with science fiction ended with this film. It wasn;t untila certai astronaut suffered a re-entry accident that Richard moved back into sci-fi.

How long does he project his two series will last?

"I don't have a crystal ball, but I feel both shows are turning into institutions. I don't talk with either Lee or Lindsay on these levels, but I do believe you don't run away from a running horse, is his analogy of the situation. "Let's just say things have fallen into place. I've been broke: listen. I came back here from New York in the winter of 1959 with my car and forty-six cents in my pocket. I spent the money on some shrimp and regarded the situation as a challenge. Being broke isn't so horrible. You can always make money."

"But I'm grateful for all this. Success is easy to handle, believe me." again the broad, grateful smile. He's wearing stardom gracefully, too.

During the photo-taking for this story. Richard was greeted poolside by a sunburned gentleman in blue swim trunks. It was his longtime friend, David Hartman, star of ABC's Good Morning, America! The greeting between the two men was a delight:

"I always said we'd make it didn't I?" Richard reminded David.


Left: Richard enjoys the success he has acheived as a pivotal figure in the two series. He also enjoys his VW camper with the strange license plate. Middle: Richard is thoroughly professional and all business when it comes to work. But his subtle sense of humour and wonderful smile belies his inherant seriousness. Right: David hartman (Good Morning America) and Richard have been good friends for a long time. Even with their busy careers, they still find tiem to get together for a quiet, poolside chat.
Photographs: William Schreiner

"Oh God, yes, and it's so great." David replied with his joyous smile. "Somebody interviewed me laat week and said 'Isn't it rotten to have so get up so early?' And I told them 'No, I'm earning a living doing what I most enjoy."

"Isn't that what I just said?" Richard turned to me.

It was the appropriate exit line, leaving the two old chums together appreciating each other and their good fortune.

Interview Page 1

Interview Page 2

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Copyright Starlog Press | March 1977