Friday, August 8, 2014

Birthday Tribute: Richard Anderson


Today is the 88th birthday of cast member Richard Anderson! Awesome!

We are so blessed to have any of the original Perry cast still with us, and Richard is such a lovely person. I adore how he wants to do things for the fans, such as having accounts on Facebook and Blogger to post things and attending fan conventions. I wish he’d come to the convention in my approximate area sometime!

Naturally his general purpose at those conventions seems to be to represent Oscar Goldman and The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman franchises. But I wonder if anyone has ever asked him about Perry if they’ve met him there?

Last month I found an address for him and wrote him a rather rambling letter, culminating in asking for a picture. (I included a self-addressed stamped envelope, naturally.) I’d heard that Richard responds very quickly to mail sent through the post office, and he definitely does! I got a personalized picture back in less than two weeks! I immediately got it on the wall.

I heard a couple of years ago or so that Richard was writing a book. I haven’t heard anything more about it since then, but I hope it’s still something he plans to get out. I would love to read it! And, as I believe it was going to be a memoir/autobiography, there might be some fun stuff in it about his time on Perry.

Of course, I’ve spent the past year finding new and exciting things that Richard has appeared in. I’m just getting going collecting his old movies from his MGM days. Many of those are being released on DVD via Warner Archive. One I just located last week is Fearless Fagan, a cute and ridiculous story about a guy who gets drafted and takes his pet lion to the base while he looks for a home for it. Richard plays the base’s captain and has some pretty good-sized screentime. He also takes part in the most hilarious scene, where sergeant Keenan Wynn flees from the lion and drops his walkie-talkie. The lion picks it up, rolls with it, and purrs and roars into it, all while Richard is screaming for Keenan Wynn to answer him!

Richard was in several somewhat rare musicals from the era. I’m probably going to try to get hold of Hit the Deck first, as it sounds like he has some pretty good screentime in it too. He’s the aide to the colonel and they’re trying to stop the bizarre actions of the main characters.

I usually think of Richard primarily as a dramatic actor, but even in shows that are basically dramatic, he can do some really funny things. He gets such classic expressions on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman as he reacts to things his agents are saying and doing. I remember some funny looks on Perry too, especially in The Dead Ringer when Paul is imitating Perry’s double. And according to IMDB, he did comedy scenes in an early series called Lights, Camera, Action! That’s what got the interest of MGM in the early 1950s. So it’s not too much of a jump from that to appearing in actual comedies and light-hearted musicals. I kind of wish Richard had had more of a chance to be funny later on, such as by guest-starring on comedy shows. But I love seeing him in his dramatic performances; he is so excellent in dramas!

One rather amusing thing I dug up was his four-episode arc on Zorro. He plays a practical-joking friend of Diego’s, who of course has no idea of Diego’s alter-ego. He even eventually ends up challenging Zorro to a duel! (It’s a long story.) At one point both characters serenade their shared love interest, and one thing I would really like to know is if it’s really Richard singing! I kind of thought it sounded more like he was being dubbed, but it would be awesome if it really was him. I love to hear my favorites singing.

Naturally, every time Perry gets close to season 9 in its television runs, I get excited and anticipant to see Richard as a cast regular again. I’m still hoping to get the latter half of season 9 on DVD; it seems that the price is only down at points when I can’t purchase things on Amazon! But I will definitely get hold of it eventually, and it will be a delight to finally see The Sausalito Sunrise and The Fanciful Frail uncut. I hope for more Steve scenes! I do know there’s at least one I’ve never seen, which is in the epilogue of The Vanishing Victim. Steve comes in selling tickets to some charity event, which Perry promptly purchases with Paul’s money (!).

Of late, I’ve been watching Richard in some of his 1980s guest-spots as well, such as a cold-hearted murderer on Matt Houston (where he appeared with Joseph Campanella, yay!) and a publisher wanting to sign Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote. I also had the chance to watch him and Joseph bowling in the 1970s on Celebrity Bowling. That’s a very fun television series. I love the game shows with celebrity contestants, as you can really see them being themselves. Richard was very charming, good-humored, and lots of fun to watch, which is pretty much exactly what I expected from him! He bowled a pretty good game, too; his team won. I do wish that he and Joseph had been on the same team, as it made it very difficult to know who to root for when they were on separate teams. But as I joked on MeTV’s website, that much awesome on the same team might have caused the world to implode. Better to spread the awesome around a bit!

Happy Birthday, Richard! Thank you so much for the picture you signed and sent to me, and thank you so much for all the lovely things you’ve done for the fans and all the wonderful performances you’ve given us! Here’s to many more happy years!

16 comments:

  1. Cool! That was really nice of him to do that. Thanks for sharing the story, Lucky! :)

    Happy Birthday Richard!

    Also found a short Perry Mason quiz recently: http://www.tvbanter.net/2012/05/perry-mason-quiz.html

    It's only 12 questions long, but it looks pretty fun to try and see how many we can get right.

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    1. Yes, it really was! Richard is awesome. :)

      Oh fun! I found it a very basic quiz and got all questions right. Perhaps that just shows how Perry-obsessed I am!

      Actually, the quiz writer got two things wrong. Paul was absent from at least two episodes: The Prudent Prosecutor and A Place Called Midnight. And in season 6, Mike Connors was not one of the fill-in lawyers for Raymond Burr. He came along in season 8. The season 6 ones were Bette Davis, Hugh O'Brien, Michael Rennie, and Walter Pigeon. Mike Connors and Barry Sullivan were the season 8 ones.

      Oh, and the writer was really off about Della being in all but one episode. There's actually several without her, perhaps close to ten or fifteen total. Hmm, now I'm curious to count up the exact number.

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  2. Richard Anderson's memoirs are now available for pre-order at the Bear Manor Media website!

    http://www.bearmanormedia.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=802

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    1. Oh, yayyayyay! Squeeee. Thanks so much for the news! LOL ... "At Last": very appropriately titled! I wish there wasn't such a long wait to publication, but at least we finally know we're in the home stretch and it's coming!

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    2. You know, to save a little money, you can rent the DVDs or in some cases VHSs from your local library. If they don't have them they might be able to order them from a nearby library. That way you can watch them at least. That's how I did some of my research for the book. then there's also YouTube. Richard will be in Rhode Island this weekend for a convention. This will include his first real public announcement about the book.

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    3. Yes, I used to watch a lot of great stuff that way when we lived where there was a library system. Now there's just one dinky library and the libraries in the county refuse to cooperate and form a system. Sigh. Thanks for the suggestion, though. :) Some libraries refuse to send audio-visual materials through Inter-Library Loan, as I've frustratingly learned, but I could try and see.

      YouTube is definitely a friend for stuff that isn't on DVD. I've seen some wonderful, rare performances there.

      It must have been a lot of fun working on the book and meeting with Richard!

      Wonderful! I hope videos from the convention will go up on YouTube afterwards. RI is nowhere near me. I hope someday Richard will come to a convention in my state.

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  3. Yes, sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right person who wants to help that makes all the difference, as far as the library goes. It might be good to check into it from time to time.
    Will keep you posted about developments including videos - hope he did a few in RI!
    It was both fun and a challenge on the book. Writing a book was the last thing on either of our minds, but it just came together as a natural progression. However Richard is extremely pleased with the results and we are just putting finishing touches on it to make sure it is something fans will enjoy...and maybe have them wanting more!
    We appreciate your interest.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I should give the library another try.

      Sweet! Hopefully. Or maybe someone attending took a video and will post it.

      I can imagine. Writing in general is definitely is both fun and challenging. That's really great that Richard is happy with how it's turning out. I'm sure I'll definitely want more! ;)

      I wanted to make a post and announce about the book as soon as you told me, but then I thought I should probably wait until after the weekend and allow Richard to make the first public announcement at the convention. I'll make a post this week.

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  4. Thanks for your courtesy. Actually whatever you want to post is fine. Richard just wanted things to be a little further along, as they are now with the website listing, before he started telling fans about it more openly. No formal announcement but if there is any video from the convention we will pass it on.

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  5. Here is an interview about the book that Richard just did.

    http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7271/1/Hollywood-Actor-Richard-Anderson-Discusses-Acting-and-His-Memoir-With-Norm-Goldman-of-Bookpleasurescom-/Page1.html#.VGbCF9JDvq7

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    1. Wonderful! That was a great read, thank you. I'll post about the interview very soon. I'm thrilled to hear that Perry Mason will be discussed in the book. Does it answer the question once and for all as to why Wesley Lau disappeared from the show? (Richard's character replaced his, so it would be relevant.) I would love to finally know the truth on that mystery, after only hearing conflicting rumors.

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  6. The reasons for Wesley Lau leaving the show were personal and private and did not involve Richard directly so he preferred to not go into detail concerning them.
    Below is another interview link concerning the book:
    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/richardrossi/2014/12/03/hollywood-movie-star-richard-anderson-aka-oscar-goldman-writer-al-doshna-1

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    1. Oh, that honestly makes me happy. I guess that must mean everything I've heard about the reason why is just untrue rumors. I've definitely hoped that at least one of the things I've heard, that he was let go because the crew didn't like the direction his character had taken, is untrue.

      Awesome, thank you! I'll listen to that right away. Reading the accompanying blurb, though, I notice Richard is listed as the first who appeared as the same character on two shows at once. I'm amazed at the number of times people don't remember Leo G. Carroll doing the same thing ten years earlier, appearing simultaneously and regularly on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. I love Richard dearly, but he definitely wasn't the first on that point. Although he may have been the first to do it longer than one season....

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    2. Finally got to hear the interview! I grabbed the opportunity to listen while I was typing up what will be our family's Christmas card letter this year. I got so involved in the interview that I missed a line and had to go back and put it in. What a fun, lovely interview! Richard is always so dignified and kind and appreciates the fans. I would have loved to call or write in if I'd known about it ahead of time, although I don't imagine there would have been much hope of getting to my message.

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  7. Great posts about Richard Anderson, another fine actor I've grown fond of through 'Perry Mason'. Although I dearly miss Andy Anderson in season 9, Lt. Drumm is another facinating portrayal of the homicide lieutenant detective. (Strange that Andy was replaced by an Anderson.)

    Small story you might find amusing. Richard Anderson was in a great 'Columbo' episode called 'Lady in Waiting'. He was the murder victim, killed by his sister, played by Susan Clark. When the mother of this pair arrives the next day to mourn her son, she picks up his framed photograph from a table, with all a mother's tender love. But instead of a loving son gazing back with a warm smile, the photo has Anderson's classic expression; stern, frowning, ultra serious. A small, hysterically funny moment. I can see Mr. Anderson cracking up over that little joke on the audience!!

    kc

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    1. Thank you! I've also thought about that naming irony.

      I saw that episode some years back, but I didn't remember the expression in the photograph. That is amusing, yes.

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