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Richard Dean Anderson Facts

Updated on November 8, 2014

Few TV stars can claim being part of two highly successful TV series, but actor, Richard Dean Anderson is one of those few stars. One of my favorite TV actors, Anderson's television career has spanned over 30 years. Richard Dean Anderson first starred in the popular action series, MacGyver. Still discussed, and even parodied on SNL, today because of the character's incredible ability to make tools out of everyday items to save the day at the last minute, Anderson created a lasting and beloved character.

Most actors would be happy with that huge successful series, but Anderson did not stop there. Instead, he went on to star in one of the lasting and memorable Sci Fi series, Stargate about traveling to distant galaxies through an ancient stargate. Again his tough, but caring character, is what set this series apart and created a Sci Fi franchise for years.

If you portray a character well enough, you might eventually get to become that person for real. This is one honour Richard Dean Anderson received in 2004
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In 2004, actor and executive producer Richard Dean Anderson of "Stargate SG-1" was recognized by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper recently for his role in the television series and for the show's continuous positive depiction of the service. General Jumper made Mr. Anderson an honorary Air Force brigadier general. Mr. Anderson portrays Brig. Gen. Jack O'Neill, commanding officer of the SG-1 team of explorers.

Photo credit Richard Dean Anderson - Wikimedia Commons - Dated 2004

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The Life and Times of Richard Dean Anderson

Richard Dean Anderson was born in Minnesota, in January 1950, the oldest of 4 sons. His parents were Stuart and Jocelyn and his younger brothers are Jeffrey, Thomas and James. He grew up playing ice hockey and other sports. He also broke both his arms in the space of one month which prevented him from becoming a professional hockey player. The entertainment business has definitely benefited from Richards unfortunate accidents.

At age 17, like most teenagers, Richard became restless. So he took off from Minnesota and went off exploring. He travelled through Canada and ended up in Alaska. Such a trip is usually a defining moment of ones life.

Richard attended St Cloud State University in St Cloud, Minnesota, and also attended university in Ohio, but dropped out before graduation. He drifted around the USA for a while and eventually ended up in Los Angeles. In 1976 (at age 26), he won an audition on General Hospital as Dr Jeff Webber where he spent 5 years honing his craft.

Richard later went on to star in two very popular TV series - MacGyver and Stargate SG1. Both were interesting contrasts. In MacGyver, Richard played a non violent trouble shooter who hated guns and used his brain and science to create innovative solutions to get him out of trouble. In Stargate, Richard played Colonel O'Neill, a career military soldier who obeys his orders and uses guns to shoot his way out of trouble. MacGyver was also an environmental supporter, O'Neill was not allowed to be worried about the environment or the impact of his actions. His job was to simply find alien technology that would be of benefit to Earth.

For complete details of all Episodes from Macgyver and Stargate, as well as other TV series Richard has acted in, please see the Richard Dean Anderson website.

Richard Dean Anderson is an intensely private person, He is also very independent. He has never married although he has had relationships with many women. Actress Marlee Matlin said this of her relationship with Richard in 1988.

The below quote is from Marlee's Book I'll Scream Later

(Simon & Schuster 2009. ISBN-13 9781 4391- 0285 5)

It was a great six months but he was fiercely independent, and I know I got too clingy for him. I wanted more, wanted to commit, and he just wasn't emotionally there. Broke my heart because he was such a great guy.

So Richard Dean Anderson is very independent and prefers women who are also independent and not clingy. They should love sports almost as much he does.

He loves Ice Hockey, Grand Prix car racing, and riding motorbikes.

He has played on several celebrity Ice Hockey teams.

He also supports the following charities and environmental concerns

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

WaterKeeper Alliance

Challengers Boys and Girls Clubs

Art of the Brain

USC Pain Centre

Height - 6 feet 2 inches

Hair - Dark Brown now Gray

Eyes - Brown (also described as chocolate brown)

Children - one daughter

Wylie Quinn Annarose Anderson - Born August 1998

Source for information - Marlee Matlin and Richard Dean Anderson Website - see Resources Link

How I got to know Richard Dean Anderson

I first saw Richard in the early 1980s in a short lived TV series called Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, loosely based on the classic 1954 movie. The movie was a hit, but the TV series was a bust. It only lasted one season (1982-83). But I thought it was great. It starred some good looking young men such as Richard Dean Anderson, Drake Hogestyn and Peter Horton. It also starred some kid called River Phoenix.

Richards next TV series was called Emerald Point NAS (1983-84) based at a Naval air station at the fictional Emerald Point, This show also only lasted one season before it went off the air.

During this time, I had no idea that Richard had already paid his dues by acting on the TV daytime soaps, until much later. Of course, it is now pretty well known that Richard spent 5 years learning his craft on General Hospital where he played Dr Jeff Webber.

They say that third time's the charm (3rd time from my POV anyway) and so it was with Richard Dean Anderson. The 3rd TV series he made (at least since I started watching him) hit the big time, became very popular and ran for the entire 7 year contract. This was of course MacGyver (1985-92). RDA has never looked back.

General Hospital - Where it all started for Anderson

Dr Jeff Webber

RDA played the character of Dr Jeff Webber on General Hospital for 5 years from 1976 to 1980.

I never watched the soaps as a teenager and I never watched General Hospital at all.

So I missed out on seeing both Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Hassellhoff as doctors. Both of these two got their starts on GH.

My favourite soap after 1980 was Days of Our Lives.

Picture copyrighted to Soap Opera Digest October 1980

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Picture Copyrighted to CBS Network

Seven Brides for seven Brothers 1982-83

This was a shortlived series about a family of 7 brothers running their farm in California. Only the oldest brother is married and when his wife moves in to keep order, the family unity starts unravelling. Every episode had at least one musical number in it.

Richard Dean Anderson as Adam McFadden

Drake Hogestyn as Brian McFadden

Peter Horton as Crane McFadden

Roger Wilson as Daniel McFadden

Tim Topper as Evan McFadden

Brian Utman as Ford McFadden

River Phoenix as Guthrie McFadden

Terri Treas as Hannah McFadden

Emerald Point NAS

From Left to right - Charles Frank, Andrew Stevens and Richard Dean Anderson

1983-84 Emerald Point NAS

Photo copyrighted to Soap Opera Digest. January 1986

MacGyver

Final episode scene - MacGyver and his son SAM ride off to see what's out there.
Final episode scene - MacGyver and his son SAM ride off to see what's out there.

Photo copyright ABC network

MacGyver 1985 - 1992

Final episode - The Stringer 1992

Dalton James as Sean Angus Malloy "SAM", MacGyver's son, and Richard Dean Anderson as MacGyver

From the pilot when MacGyver is forced to use chocolate to stop a sulphuric acid leak, to the absolute final episode where Mac discovers he has a son, we were right there watching Mac every week, as he battled to save the USA from the bad guys using only his smarts, science (chemistry and physics) and whatever he could find lying around.

We learned quite a lot about MacGyver.

His parents died when he was just a kid.

His grandfather Harry as just as stubborn as he was.

MacGyver loves kids and the environment and he hates guns and heights.

Mac's first name is Angus - he absolutely hates that name.

His son's full name is Sean Angus Malloy - or SAM for short.

I can still remember sitting in front of the TV with tears in my eyes when those last words were spoken by RDA as he and SAM drove off into the distance.

This is Richard Dean Anderson and on behalf of all of us at MacGyver, I'd like to thank you, our audience, for seven great seasons.

There were full episodes of MacGyver (copied from the DVD's) up on Youtube in July 2011, but by October 2011 they had all been removed.

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One on One with MacGyver - Interview with John Tesh

A very personal interview with Richard Dean Anderson in 1992, filmed during the last season of MacGyver. Video quality is not good but at least you can see and hear. This was filmed almost 20 years ago. As of now (2011) Anderson still is not married, and is currently not in any long term relationship despite reaching the age of 61. But he does have one child - a daughter. Wylie will turn 13 in August 2011.

Legend

Photo - Copyright to UPN

Legend (1995) was a confusing series, and frankly I am not surprised it didn't last long. RDA was executive producer. He has said several times that Legend was his favourite character to play. Anyway, it was just too confusing for his fans.

RDA played both an author (Ernest Pratt) and the fictitious character (Nicodemus Legend) he had invented. As described on Wikipedia, Legend is an old west version of MacGyver. Legend did not like guns, and he preferred to use his brain to get out of trouble. He also used science, but needed Bartok's help with that. Bartok is a hungarian scientist and was played by John de Lancie (who was best known as Q on Star Trek Next Generation).

Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG1

Richard Dean Anderson as Colonel Jack O'Neill
Richard Dean Anderson as Colonel Jack O'Neill

Stargate SG1 1997- 2007

From Seasons 1 through 7 RDA played Colonel Jack O'Neill. By season 8 he wanted to spend more time IRL (in real life) with his daughter so he got a promotion (to Brigadier General) and became the base commander. This meant he no longer went through the gate to explore other words, search for technology and fight the Gouald. After season 8, RDA more or less left Stargate while O'Neill got another promotion (to Lieutenant General) and a transfer to Washingon DC. The team of SG1 for season 9 and 10 was revamped and became a 5 member team, along with a new enemy - the Ori.

RDA's character of General O'Neill has paid brief visits to Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe - both spin off series from Stargate SG1.

As I mentioned above, RDA is a very private person but he occasionally does interviews and chats. This Q&A session was done back in 2003 around the time of Wylies 5th birthday.

Your turn to sound off on this Richard Dean Anderson lens - What do you think of MacGyver, Stargate and Anderson?

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    • Alana-r profile image

      Alana-r 5 years ago

      Excellent lens, once again!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      A most thorough coverage of RDA's public life. Angel blessings!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Haha, reading this lens convinced me there is at least one person out there who just might like Richard Dean Anderson more than I do.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      When I hear the name Richard Dean Anderson, I still think of MacGyver, just loved him in that. I even remember Seven Brides for Seven Brothers but didn't make the connection. A great tribute!

    • SeanVernall LM profile image

      SeanVernall LM 6 years ago

      I have to admit that SG-1 was not the same without the ever-bewildered Mr Anderson. Of course I am a little unsure as to whether I would feel the same had he continued to wear that hairstyle he proudly sports on the cover of Soap Opera Digest. Now is it just me or does RD look a little bit like Dan Byrd from Cougar Town in that pic?

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      RDA is one of my favorite actors. I didn't realize he was from Minnesota (my home state). Thanks for this great feature lens. Enjoyed it!

    • BlackHeart1 profile image

      BlackHeart1 6 years ago

      You made it!! You submitted this lens for the top Entertainment & Media Lens section and you made it to the top 5 ... Be sure to go check this page: http://www.squidoo.com/top-5-entertainment-media on the first of the month to see what your position in the top 5 is and donât forget to tell your friends and visitors about it too