Rest in peace, Richard Anderson…

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Was deeply saddened to learn this evening that Richard Anderson (“Oscar Goldman” of “Six Million Dollar Man” fame among MANY others; including John Frankenheimer’s “Seconds” and “Forbidden Planet”) passed away at age 91.

I’d met this kindly, sophisticated gentleman at several San Diego Comic Cons; first in 2006 (after a “Forbidden Planet” 50th anniversary panel) and later, most memorably, at the 2012 SDCC.   That meeting in 2012 was one of my favorite Comic Con memories ever.   So I’m going to cut-and-paste (and slightly edited) the story from my “Forbidden Planet” article I posted a while back, as it’s the most fitting tribute to the man that I can think of:

I had one of my fondest memories of attending conventions five years ago at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con.  I was relaxing at one of the table in the Sails Pavilion area (where most of the autographs are usually done).   The tables were a bit crowded when I noticed an elderly gentleman (one of the few attendees wearing a tie!) and his ‘celebrity handler’ come over to the table where I was sitting and relaxing.  Well, the gentleman was none other than “Forbidden Planet”’s Quinn and “Six Million Dollar Man”‘s Oscar Goldman himself, Richard Anderson.   All of 86, but still dapper and sharp, even if his voice was a bit thinner.    They sat, and I tried not to stare or appear ‘overly geeky’ at the prospect of sitting next to Anderson.  I kept my cool (whatever few crumbs of it I might’ve had left).   After awhile, Anderson’s assistant wanted to see more of the convention, and asked me (yes, moi!) if I wouldn’t mind looking after Mr. Anderson for a few moments (!!!).   I said of course.    My inner self felt like squeeing out loud; this was not only the co-star of “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Forbidden Planet” but also of (arguably Rock Hudson’s finest film) “Seconds”, as well as countless other movies and TV shows.  I grew up watching this man’s work.   And here he was, just chilling…

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Richard Anderson (“Chief Quinn” “Oscar Goldman”) and a somewhat heavier me sharing a table at 2012 Comic Con. We had a nice, 40-odd minute chat. To this day, it remains one of my fondest memories of Comic Con…

We began chatting, and I let a few geeky references slip; yes, I knew of his work (duh, right??).   Of course he wouldn’t remember our quick meeting from six years earlier, so I never mentioned it, but we began chatting about all kinds of things.   He made me laugh a bit when he told me he was “the same age as the Queen.”  I then asked what he thought of Comic Con, and he was just amazed at the outpouring of fan affection and creativity.  He told me that “if they had one of these in every city in the world… there’d be no wars.”   Words of wisdom I remember to this day.

We also talked about his “Bionic” shows; I’d learned Anderson was instrumental in bringing back Lindsay Wagner’s “Jamie Sommers” from the dead (she was initially killed in her original 2 part episode).   We also had a chat about real-life medical progress since those days, and his own amazement at the advancements made in prosthetic limbs.

I then asked him about his days working on “Forbidden Planet”; I could see his eyes going back to that time.   He recalled walking onto the set with the “giant spaceship” and the huge green-sky cyclorama, and he was just floored.   He told me he would show up even when he wasn’t needed on set, just to soak it all in.   He also reminded me that most studios didn’t spend that kind of money on science fiction movies in those days; MGM was making a rare exception.   “You could see the money spent”, he said.   Anderson also told colorful stories about his being a young contract player at the studio (including a teensy crush on costar Anne Francis).   I was entranced.  My only regret of the talk?  I never asked him about the 1966 movie “Seconds,” and what it was like to work with John Frankenheimer and Rock Hudson.    But… I didn’t want to push my luck; Anderson was more than gracious with me, so l let him lead the conversation.

After awhile, Anderson’s assistant came back and they had to leave to set up Anderson’s autograph table.   His assistant thanked me for looking after Anderson (like I needed to be thanked, right?).   Both men shook my hand, and Anderson even gave me a couple of pro bono “Oscar Goldman” pics with autographs for my time (!).    It was, to this day, still one of my favorite ‘celebrity meets’ at a convention ever.   He was a true gentleman.

Anderson sharing the screen with Rock Hudson in John Frankenheimer’s 1966 classic, “Seconds.” 
A young Anderson (right, seated) mans his console aboard the C57-D, in “Forbidden Planet.”

Rest in peace, Richard Anderson; thanks for the years of entertainment in my youth, as well as the pleasant chat and fond memory of my adulthood.

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