One only has to see a photo of actor Richard Anderson and say, ‘Oscar Goldman’, and the link is there to ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ (1974-78) and ‘The Bionic Woman’ (1976-78). He’s instantly recognisable and that is probably his most famous TV role. Yet, as this book, ‘Richard Anderson: At Last…A Memoir’ as told to Alan Doshna shows, he has had a very long and busy career on stage, film and TV. ‘Forbidden Planet’ (1956) is probably his most well-known film and his 24th film for MGM at the time before he moved over to TV.
This book is less an autobiography and more snippets about the people he met and the odd story along the way. It was also Cary Grant and his then wife, Betsy Drake, who got him started in the film industry from stage. Seeing the list of MGM films Anderson has been in, there are many of these shown on TV in the UK although there is an indication that they are on some of the US film channels. The list of directors he’s worked with include Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Paths Of Glory’ (1958). Anderson points out that many actors’ careers only really last 7 years so from everything from starring to supporting roles to sometimes producer, although he says little about that, Anderson has seen everything over many decades and is now 90 years old.
Some of the info is insightful and learnt from the likes of Walter Huston and Gary Cooper. He also points out that many of the actors from the 1950s drank and smoked heavily and died at 60. One common factor throughout all the productions was sitting around waiting to film a couple minutes a day so there’s little difference to how it’s done today.
Anderson spends one chapter on giving advice on acting and his own success coming largely from being instantly being able to fit into particular parts. He also explains how he adapts to how many takes film directors want and when to give his best performance.
Some of the stories I have read before and, if anything, I wish there was more because Richard Anderson worked with many people and just rattles through them without necessarily drawing too much attention than ‘he knew them when they started’. Two things I wish had been explored is Richard Anderson’s desire for his suntan and why he never wore socks which have been documented elsewhere.
Richard Anderson has always come across as a nice person so don’t expect any unusual revelations. He likes to get on with people which is conveyed here. You also get a lot of photos from his own collection and his love of films. I came away from this book wishing there was more but anything at all at his great age is something to read.
(pub: BearManor Media. 155 page illustrated indexed enlarged paperback. Price: $19.95 (US), £13.10 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-59393-803-1)