Anderson’s credits spanned more than 180 film and TV roles over six decades after starting his Hollywood career as a messenger at MGM. But he will be best remembered for playing Goldman, the handler of the bionic duo of Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers, played by Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner. Combined, the combined franchise — Bionic Woman was a spinoff — ran for more than 150 episodes from 1973-78 and spawned several TV movies, two of which Anderson produced. During a two-season span, he co-starred on both series at the same time, a rarity.
The Goldman character was so popular that Kenner introduced an action figure of him — complete with an “exploding briefcase” that would “detonate” if opened incorrectly.
“I met Richard in 1967 when he first guest starred on The Big Valley — we worked together on five episodes,” Majors said. “In 1974, he joined me as my boss, Oscar Goldman, in The Six Million Dollar Man. Richard became a dear and loyal friend, and I have never met a man like him. I called him ‘Old Money.’ His always stylish attire, his class, calmness and knowledge never faltered in his 91 years. He loved his daughters, tennis and his work as an actor. He was still the sweet, charming man when I spoke to him a few weeks ago. I will miss you, my friend.”
Said Wagner: “I can’t begin to say how much I have always admired and have been grateful for the elegance and loving friendship I was blessed to have with Richard Anderson. He will be greatly missed.”
As a character actor, Anderson played everything from cowboys and outlaws to cops, doctors and government officials — the latter is where Goldman fit in, assigning and hand-holding his bionic spies via the OSI (Office of Scientific Information). He treated them more like family than employees and memorably mastered the art of the eyeglasses-take-off when discussing serious topics.
Anderson’s film credits include the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, Martin Ritt’s The Long Hot Summer, John Sturges’ Escape From Fort Bravo and John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May. On the TV side he had roles in Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five-O, Dynasty, Dan August, Perry Mason, The Fugitive, Charlie’s Angels, The A-Team, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Bonanza, Ironside, Daniel Boone and Murder, She Wrote.
Born on August 8, 1926, in Long Branch, NJ,Anderson was raised in New York City until moving to California at age 10. After serving in the Army during World War II, he enrolled in the Actors Laboratory in Los Angeles, which later became the Actors Studio in New York.
He was married to Carol Lee Ladd from 1955-56, then was married to Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer’s daughter Katherine Thalberg from 1961-73. He is survived by his and Katherine’s three daughters Ashley Anderson, a real estate agent in Montecito; onetime UN ambassador Brooke Anderson; and Deva Anderson, a music supervisor at Playtone.
“Our dad was always there for us and showed us by loving example how to live a full and rich life with gratitude, grace, humor and fun,” said Ashley Anderson.
A memorial service will be private.