Actor Anderson made for authority-figure roles

Richard Anderson
Richard Anderson

NEW YORK • Richard Anderson, a character actor known for playing authority figures in films and on television, most notably the government agent on two popular series, The Six Million Dollar Man (1973 to 1978) and The Bionic Woman (1976 to 1978), died on Thursday at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 91.

With the polished good looks of a telegenic politician and standing at an imposing 1.9m tall, Anderson seemed made to order for the authority-figure roles - a police official, a military officer, a senator - that casting directors were so often eager to fill.

United Press International once described him as "always a chief, never an Indian".

He appeared in action shows such as Mission: Impossible, Ironside and Knight Rider and dramas such as Dynasty and Murder She Wrote.

The Six Million Dollar Man began as a series of TV movies in 1973, based on Martin Caidin's novel Cyborg (1972). The movies and, later, the prime-time series that furthered the franchise, told the story of Steve Austin, an astronaut played by Lee Majors, who was grievously maimed after crashing an experimental airplane.

Austin was mended with a cybernetic arm, legs and an eye that granted him superhuman powers, which he put to use on behalf of the United States government.

Austin's overseer, Oscar Goldman, was played by Darren McGavin in the first movie. When McGavin left, Anderson took over for the second and third movies.

The Six Million Dollar Man was made into a dramatic series in 1974 and led to a spin-off, The Bionic Woman, in 1976, with Lindsay Wagner starring as Jaime Sommers, a tennis pro who is rebuilt after a sky- diving accident.

Anderson played Goldman on both shows simultaneously, often racing between two shoots in a single day.

He told United Press International: "It seems I've spent a lifetime telling other characters what the setup is and then sending them out on missions."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2017, with the headline 'Actor Anderson made for authority-figure roles'. Print Edition | Subscribe