Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Birthday Tribute: Richard Anderson

The weekday post is a day early this week to honor Richard Anderson on his birthday today! He was born August 8th, 1926, and he is one of the few regular Perry cast members still alive today. That is awesome. Here’s to many more years!

I believe the first thing I ever saw Richard in was The Student Prince, years and years ago. It’s one of my dad’s favorite movies; the music really buoyed him up when he was feeling very discouraged one time. I didn’t know who Richard was at that point, but I did know I liked the character he played. His character, Lucas, is the leader of a corps and is probably the prince’s closest friend when he enrolls at the school to loosen up. I think Lucas may have always been my favorite character in the film.

I wish we could have heard Richard sing a solo in the film! The closest we get is when he and the fellow playing the leader of another corps at the university sing a duet about their favorite barmaid.

The next time I encountered Richard may very well have been on Perry. I’m still having trouble recalling exactly what I thought of either Steve or Andy years ago, but I’m pretty sure I liked them both a lot.

Of course, I love Steve now. I realized that he moved into the top tier of my favorite Perry characters, along with Hamilton and Andy. I’m not quite sure where anyone else fits on the scale anymore, other than that I still love all of the characters very dearly.

On that note, I realized that season 7's The Accosted Accountant is the only time where all three of my favorite Perry actors are present, even though Richard isn't playing Steve that time. It's one of my favorite episodes, for the intense plot, the Perry and Hamilton scenes, and the only time Richard interacts with his predecessor Wesley Lau.

It’s been very interesting observing the three main police characters and picking out their individual personalities. A lot of their dialogue could be interchangeable, it’s true, especially during season 5 when the writers weren’t sure what to do with Andy.

I’ve noticed that they didn’t seem to have much of that trouble with Steve. Right away, they established him as a by-the-book policeman on-duty and a relaxed, easy-going friend off-duty. I wish we could have seen him transition into things; season 9 opens with him already a part of the new Core Five and a very good friend of Perry and company. I would love to see his and Paul’s first meetings. It’s clear to me that Paul feels more at ease around Steve than he ever did around Tragg or Andy. And that fascinates me.

Over the years I’ve seen Richard in many things, some of which I’ve probably forgotten. More recently (last year) I saw him first in the second Kolchak: The Night Stalker movie, The Night Strangler, where he played the Big Bad, and in Scaramouche, where he played a good guy revolutionary. Although I’d like to see the latter again, I’m not sure I’m up to seeing his poor character die any time soon!

Those were accidental finds. Over the past months I’ve made many deliberate finds. I’ve seen Richard play both good guys and bad guys perfectly. Of course, my preference is to see him play a good guy (who survives!), but he’s wonderful and amazing no matter what part he takes.

I was very excited by another accidental find, when I stumbled across him in The Wild Wild West episode The Night of the Headless Woman. He’s the Big Bad again, but I loved his character so much before the reveal that I decided the fellow was really a good guy and he had an evil double. The episode itself actually supports my theory, due to a costuming mistake! The character, James Jeffers, is wounded on the left side of his head. Later, in the scene where he is revealed as the Big Bad, the wound has somehow magically moved to the right side of his head! Ooops!

I want to see The Rifleman episode The Lariat so bad. I’ve only seen a clip of it. The disc is on “Short” Wait at Netflix (and has been for probably over a month!) and I’m waiting for it to appear on MeTV. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get to it before Netflix does!

They aired the One Went to Denver episode last Friday. I enjoyed it very much! It was very interesting, to see Lucas McCain friends with a notorious outlaw like Tom Birch, and even more interesting and awesome that Tom really did still have good in him. I love the friendship between them.

And I’m intrigued by the similar backstories for Tom Birch and Lariat Jones, where their friendships with Lucas McCain are concerned. I’m starting to have a theory where the characters are twin brothers and Lariat changed his name so as not to be associated with the infamous Birch gang.

I think my favorite of Richard’s guest-spots is probably in The Big Valley season 1 finale, The Last Train to the Fair. It’s legally available for watching on Hulu, and I’ve been recommending it all over the place. It’s just beautiful. The plot involves the Barkley kids off to join their mother in Sacramento, but Audra ends up stricken with appendicitis. Richard plays a doctor who tries to help out, in between dealing with people who have followed him to the train trying to kill him. This is one thing I honestly don’t want to reveal spoilers for, so I’ll just do some more recommending and encourage everyone to watch it! There are some surprise twists and an incredible, intense climax.

One more notable thing about the episode: You can see Lee Majors interact with Richard about eight years before they become part of The Six Million Dollar Man.

Of course, no tribute to Richard would be complete without talking about his most famous and well-loved character, Oscar Goldman. I’ve just started watching both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman as of last month, and I love them both. Good, clean 1970s fun. There’s generally a moral point (that isn’t pounded into your head but comes naturally) and I don’t think I’ve ever heard any swearing in either show, even though by that time swearing was being introduced into television. It’s lovely.

Oscar is a character whom I’m certain my friend Crystal would love, if she could find the time to watch an episode or two. He’s wonderful! Oscar is the classic serious man with a heart of gold. Although mistaken for being too stern, he knows when he really has to be stern to get the job done and done right. He’s friendly with and protective of both Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers, and over the seasons you can really watch as their friendships develop. It’s so powerful in the last episode of The Bionic Woman when Oscar and Jaime embrace and Oscar tells Jaime that he loves her and she is probably the closest thing he has to family. That whole episode is just filled with awesome Oscar scenes, including one where he gets tough with a couple of bureaucrats. I’m looking forward to watching every episode of both series.

Richard has brought these and so many other stellar characters to life. Richard, I want to wish you the happiest birthday today, and to thank you for all of the amazing productions in which you have participated. You have brought many happy times to fans!

1 comment:

  1. Love The Six Million Dollar Man and your acting as Oscar Goldmen, you and Lee Majors were a big hit in my world. I am a huge fan of you both! I have several of your shows on dvd, my husband and I watch the over and over just love it.