Anderson, portrait of a man

A biography on one of the most popular actors from the 80's and 90's, Richard Dean Anderson.
January 04, 2006

Richard Dean Anderson, the man most famous for his role as MacGyver, has led a unique life on and off the screen. Anderson, son of Stuart and Jocelyn Anderson, was born on January 23, 1950 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father was a teacher at a local high school, and his mother was an artist. He has three brothers by the names of Jeffrey Scott, Thomas John, and James Stuart.

Richard and his family lived in the suburbs in Minneapolis. As a child, he developed an interest in sports, music, acting, and the arts. Due to his love of sports, he wanted to grow up to be a professional hockey player. But his dream was crushed at the age of sixteen when he broke both his arms at seperate times while playing high school hockey.

At the age of seventeen, Anderson decided to take a 5,641 mile bicycle trip from his home in Minnesota through Canada and Alaska. At first several of his friends accompanied him. But he traveled the last thirty-three days of the trip alone. It was also not uncommon for him to hitch rides and hop on freight trains at a young age.

Richard went to Roseville Area High School in Roseville, Minnesota, and later studied drama at St. Cloud State University and at Ohio University. But he never got his degree. Anderson lived in New York for a short while before moving to Los Angeles, where he pursued some interesting careers.

In LA, Anderson worked as a street-mime, a juggler, and a jester at a Rennisance cabaret. He also briefly worked in Marineland, where he wrote, directed, and performed in marine shows. In one skit, he would hold a fish in his mouth as a killer whale would leap up and snatch it from him. At that time, he also played in a rock band called "Rick Dean and the Dante" with his friend Carl Dante.

In 1976 Anderson got his big break when he got the role of Dr. Jeff Webber in the popular daytime drama series "General Hospital." After five years on the show, Anderson decided to move on. He starred in two TV shows, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (1982) and "Emerald Point N.A.S." (1983). However, both shows did not last.

Anderson then struck gold when he got the lead role in the popular action/adventure television show "MacGyver." Anderson got the role in a very unique manner. When he was called in for an audition, he was asked to read an unfamiliar script. Being nearsighted, he politely asked to wear his glasses for the reading. This simple unselfconscious gesture was highly respected by the producers. And they were convinced he was the right man for the job.

In the show "MacGyver," Richard Dean Anderson plays as an agent named MacGyver, who doesn't like to carry guns on his missions. Instead, he relies on his vast knowledge of science and technology to save the innocent and capture the guilty. After seven successful seasons of the show, there were two made for TV movies based on the series, "MacGyver: Lost Treasure of Atlantis," (1994) and "MacGyver: Trail to Doomsday" (1994). Both movies were produced by Gekko Film Corp. A company Anderson started with his friend Michael Greenburg.

In 1986 Anderson made his first movie debut in the film "Ordinary Heroes." Since then he has appeared in several other films, including "In the Eyes of the Stranger," (1992) "Through the eyes of a killer," (1992) "Beyond Betrayal," (1994) "Past the Bleachers," (1995) and "Pandora's Clock." (1996).

Anderson made his return to television in 1995 in the show "Legend." He was also an executive producer of the series, plus one of his co-stars was his close friend John de Lancie, who has worked with Anderson on more than one occasion over the years. But "Legend" only lasted one season.

Then in 1997 came another role Anderson was born to play, Colonel Jack O'Neill in the popluar sci-fi series "Stargate SG-1." The show is based on the 1994 Roland Emmerich film "Stargate." In which Kurt Russel played the role of Jack O'Neill. In 2003, during the production of the show, Richards father passed away. Anderson stayed in the show till the year 2005. During that same year, Dana Elcar, his friend and fellow co-star in "MacGyver" passed away as well.

After the death of his friend Dana, Richard had this to say about him, "At a time when I had very little business being called an actor, he made things so easy for me. It was a learning experience that was very warm and loving for all seven years."

Anderson has never married, even though he has dated much. He has had relationships with Teri Hatcher, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sela Ward, and Katarina Witt. Since 1996, his partner has been Apryl Prose, who is the mother of his only child, Wylie Quinn Annarose Anderson, who was born on August 2, 1998. Anderson decided to temporarily subside from the acting scene while his daughter is still young. Richard currently lives in both Vancouver and near Los Angeles, as well as owning his own cabin in northern Minnesota.

Richard Dean Anderson has played some memorable characters over the years. From his start in "General Hospital," to his big debut as the smartest agent on Earth in "MacGyver," to the witty Colonel O'Neill in "Stargate-SG1." Richard truly is one of the most popular and well loved televison actors of our time.

More Articles From System
An unhandled error has occurred. Reload Dismiss