Oscar Goldman Was Also My Boss
Richard Anderson, the actor behind the OSI head who rebuilt both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, was a real-life mensch.
Famed character actor Richard Anderson would have been 94 last week. He passed on August 31, 2017.
When I was a child, both “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman” were personal obsessions. I idolized Oscar Goldman in particular, as he was not only instrumental in saving the lives of Steve Austin (Lee Majors) and Jaime Summers (Lindsay Wagner), he convinced them both to work for him in defense of our national interests.
In 2013, four years before his death, Richard Anderson became my friend.
Sometimes, fantasy and reality merge.
“The Six Million Dollar Man” was my favorite TV show during its run. Oscar Goldman was The Six Million Dollar Man’s boss.
A few years later, “The Bionic Woman” premiered on my 12th birthday, January 14, 1976. Oscar Goldman was The Bionic Woman’s boss.
He was, thereafter, “The Boss” to me.
When TV led to personal inspiration, I utilized my imagination to became a writer — just like those unknown, behind-the-scenes scribes whose stories so excited me on these shows, as well as my other favorite, “Star Trek.”
My first short story was for junior high, about the crew of the Starship Enterprise teaming with the Six Million Dolllar Man to manipulate time and save us all from the Planet of the Apes.
Oscar Goldman would prove to be the key figure there.
Life proceeded; my geekdom expanded. I laughed out loud when I saw Richard in “Forbidden Planet” for the first time, probably not the desired reaction but nonetheless …
Decades later, I met the guy. At Comic Con International in San Diego. He was signing autographs in Autograph Alley, a few tables past where I was signing Book One of “The Chronicles of Ara,” the first of my new fantasy novel series. I introduced myself; we started talking and we hit it off.
He invited me to lunch.
OSCAR FUCKING GOLDMAN INVITED ME TO LUNCH!!
Two weeks later, I had lunch with “The Boss” at The Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills. I was furious that I was running late, having hit traffic on Sunset Blvd. I called him, he was cool.
Yeah, he was “cool.” Unflappable. I got there; he was as nice as could be. I tried not talking about the bionic shows, as I figured he got that all the time. But the conversation veered and I was that childhood fan all over again. It was a great lunch — he spoke very low, almost a whisper; I had to pay attention to every word. Turns out, he was a veritable encyclopedia of old Hollywood, having been married to Katharine Thalberg, daughter of Irving who was one of the film industry’s most renowned moguls.
He also wanted me to invest some money into a remake of “Curse of the Faceless Man” that he wanted to produce. Ah, to the business part of the meeting. He brought a DVD of the original film with him; I had to promise to watch. I took the DVD, he bought me a $35 dessert, we stuck around for another couple of hours, he introduced me to Stan Lee’s late wife and Jane Fonda.
And he asked me to follow him to the basement after. We entered the elevator, and the doors opened at the parking level. We walked a few yards, and he asked me to sit in his antique Bentley, which was permanently parked there. Though I was already working in “the business,” I was a kid in a candy store.
I left after another few minutes, promising to watch “Curse of the Faceless Man.”
Weeks pass, and Richard needs his DVD back. I couldn’t make it. He wanted to know if I could drop it off at his house; he’d have something prepared food-wise and we’d talk, but I was engaged that day.
I asked my wife if she would mind dropping off Richard’s DVD. She did, happily, and came home about four hours later — with a big bag of top-quality chocolate. I tease her about that to this day. She loved meeting him, found him very kind and giving.
And that was Richard. I wish my wife and I both knew him longer. We stayed in touch, then lost contact a few months before the end; I had heard through a mutual friend he was in failing health.
Sometimes when you meet your childhood idols it’s a recipe for heartbreak. By the time I met Richard, I had met or been in business with many public figures I looked up to as an aspiring writer. I’ve been fortunate for the most part, as several have become lifelong friends. I haven’t seen celebrity since I started working in the film and television businesses; I only see hard-working men and women engaging their craft to earn a living.
When I met Richard, all bets were off.
As said with no shame, I was a fanboy all over again.
If he was here today I would address him this way: “Mr. Anderson, you truly were “The Boss.” Thank you for the memories, thank you for your inspiring performances, thank you for being so kind to my wife and I. You certainly had the finest chocolates in town …”
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