Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest today actor and author, Richard Anderson. Richard is best-known in his portrayal of Oscar Goldman in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman television series and their subsequent television movies: The Return of the Six-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1987), Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989) and Bionic Ever After? (1994) for which he was also producer.
In the early years of what we now call Classic TV, his dozens of appearances were in such memorable series as Zorro (1958-1959), The Untouchables (1960), Thriller with Boris Karloff (1960), The Rifleman (1960-1963), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1964), many appearances on Perry Mason (1966), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1966), and Mission Impossible (1967), to name but a few.
Some of the films he has appeared in include Forbidden Planet, Paths of Glory, The Long Hot Summer and Seven Days in May. And he has guest starred in several television shows including Hawaii Five-O, Gunsmoke, Ironside, Columbo and The Love Boat.
Richard has also appeared in the made for TV movie, The Night Strangler as the villain. In the 1980s he appeared on Charlie’s Angels, Matt Houston, Knight Rider, Remington Steele, Cover Up, The A-Team, The Fall Guy, Simon & Simon, and Murder, She Wrote.
In 2007, he was honored with a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars.
He has now published his memoir, Richard Anderson: A Memoir, From the Golden Years of M-G-M to The Six Million Dollar Man to Now.
Norm: Good day Richard and thanks for participating in our interview.
Do you recall how your interest in acting originated and how did you learn your acting skills. As a follow up, what was the most challenging part you ever played?
Richard: My brother and I used to go to the movies on Saturdays which made a deep impression on both of us.I was a fairly shy and self conscious youngster. However there were a few opportunities that came my way in school that helped boost my confidence towards pursuing acting as a goal. Working at M-G-M grounded me in the skills that i would use throughout my career. My most challenging role was as The Night Strangler, which was as against type as any that I’ve ever had.
Norm: What sorts of parts have you been drawn to and why?
Richard: I’ve always been more”drawn”(no pun intended) to Westerns. I have tried to be open to every kind of role to expand my range, but have been lucky enough to be considered “castable.” In the pattern. for example, of OSI head Oscar Goldman. A good name, I’m sure you would agree.
Norm: Is the craft of acting something that can be learned?
Richard: Acting is something that requires a great deal of discipline, through memorization, rehearsal and perseverance. One can have a lot of talent but without those ingredients mentioned above, one’s success will be limited.
Norm: How much research do you do to perform a role?
Richard: My main focus is what’s in the script although of course we all bring something from our outside experience. A famous actor named Spencer Tracy once told me “Learn the lyrics, and don’t bump into the furniture.” if we become more focused on things outside of what’s in the script we do a disservice to the people working with us.
Norm: Has your environment and/or upbringing influenced your acting? If so, explain?
Richard: The people whom I have admired most, whether actors, public speakers or writers tend to be “minimalists” – trying to convey a thought or emotion through the least amount of stain or effort. This may have resulted from the pressures brought upon our family by the Great Depression – or not. I don’t think it’s good to over-analyze things or allow oneself to live too much in the shadow of the past, but to make the most of the present. I will also say that my mother, who had been an aspiring dancer, was very encouraging to my brother and I in our careers.
Norm: How do you find your way into a character?
Richard: I had attended the Actor’s Laboratory in Los Angeles before it was called The Actor’s Studio, which of course teaches the “Stanislavsky Method.” I didn’t get much out of it personally. It gets back to what Tracy said: “Learn the lyrics . . .” If you’re struggling to remember your lines the character is already lost to you.
Norm: Do you find criticism helpful?
Richard: The best feedback comes from people whom you know you can trust and who have your best interests at heart. There are some people who seek to latch on to creative people seemingly only in order to burst their bubble. Artists need to be very wary of such influences.
Norm: What would you like to say to actors who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep acting, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Richard: One can only decide for himself how much good he or she is getting as a result of their efforts. There may be great sacrifice but there may also be great rewards coming from that. Or maybe it is a way of developing skills that can be applied to another more rewarding career. Is the person happy with how it balances out with the rest of his life or not?
Norm: You have just published your memoir, Richard Anderson: A Memoir, From the Golden Years of M-G-M to The Six Million Dollar Man to Now. What motivated you to write your memoir and what purpose do you believe your memoir serves? What matters to you about the memoir?
Richard: I have often been asked “Why don’t you write your life story?”, with all of my experiences in Hollywood and the notable people that I’ve met. I liked to tell them “Why, I’m still living it!” At a certain point I happened to meet a writer, whose name is Alan Doshna, who seemed to be the right person for the task. it’s been fun writing the book and reminiscing, so I hope I can pass some of that enjoyment on to readers.
Norm: Could you tell our audience a little about your memoir?
Richard: Al and I just began discussing the various interesting high points of my life and putting them together so as to form a full length book. Of course it covers subjects such as Six Million Dollar Man, Perry Mason, my years at M-G-M and other things that fans have expressed interest in, including a fun little movie called Curse of the Faceless Man.
Norm: What was the time-line between the time you decided to write your book and publication? What were the major events along the way?
Richard: Al had approached me about doing an interview for a popular movie magazine, which we did. In putting it together, however, he told me he realized that it formed the outline of an autobiography. He said that if I ever decided to do one, that “it would have to follow that pattern in any case, so why don’t we look into finding a publisher who might be interested?” I agreed and in a very short time I signed with Ben Ohmart, publisher of Bear Manor Media. Ben is a Six Mill fan from way back, and even owns one of the prized Oscar Goldman action figures, which is the subject of one of the scenes in 40 Year Old Virgin with Steve Carrell.
Finally, last spring (2014) I got on the phone and said “Let’s get this thing done.” Al got on a plane, we pulled up our sleeves, and now we’re here talking to you about it.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your memoir?
Richard: My PERSONAL WEBSITE can be found at:
The book, which will be out in March. 2015 can be pre-ordered at the Bear Manor media website below:.
RICHARD ANDERSON: AT LAST… A MEMOIR, FROM THE GOLDEN YEARS OF M-G-M AND THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN TO NOW
Norm: What is next for Richard Anderson?
Richard: I have been involved with a number of charities including the Veterans Park Conservancy for the past number of years. Also, the California Indian Manpower Consortium for the past twenty years which has been of great support to the Native American community. Entertainment wise, I enjoy traveling and appearing at fan conventions such as the recent Comic -Con in Rhode Island. A big screen remake of Six Million Dollar Man to star Mark Wahlberg has recently gotten underway, so that should be exciting for everyone. So a number of interesting projects related to Six Million Dollar Man have been coming together.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Richard: Actually I think you’ve covered it all quite well. Thank you.
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