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!