Richard Dean Anderson is probably best known as MacGyver, the clever and inventive nonviolent hero who solved problems in his own unique way for seven successful seasons on ABC. In his roles before and since, this gifted actor has continued to demonstrate his remarkable talent and versatility.
Richard came to national attention in 1976 as Dr. Jeff Webber on the popular daytime drama General Hospital. After five years in that role, he felt it was time to move on, and he left to try his hand at prime time television. He appeared in two short-lived television series for CBS, as the eldest brother in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1982, and as a hot-shot Naval pilot in Emerald Point N.A.S. in 1983, as well as numerous guest appearances in other series.
In 1985 Richard was cast in his signature role as MacGyver, on ABC. He has told the story of how he won the role. He had been called in for an audition, and asked to "cold read" an unfamiliar script. Being very nearsighted, he asked to wear his glasses for the reading, and that simple unselfconscious gesture immediately convinced the show's producers that they had found the right man to become their unpretentious hero. MacGyver ran for seven successful years, and continues to enjoy popularity all around the world.
Richard made his TV movie debut in 1986 in Ordinary Heroes, with Valerie Bertinelli. In this remake of the 1945 movie Pride of the Marines, Richard gave a moving performance as a soldier who is blinded three days before returning home from Vietnam. In preparation for the emotional demands of the role, he studied with the late Peggy Feury before shooting began. He demonstrated his incredible talent for a variety of roles when he appeared in several movies for CBS television following the finale of MacGyver. In 1992 he starred as a disillusioned cop opposite Justine Bateman in the movie In the Eyes of a Stranger, and as a psychotic stalker pursuing Marg Helgenberger in Through the Eyes of a Killer. His chilling performance as an abusive husband opposite Susan Dey in the 1994 movie Beyond Betrayal caused Daily Variety to remark, "...credit Richard Dean Anderson with a performance so creepy that masks of his character could be Halloween bestsellers." In June of 1995 he explored the opposite end of the acting spectrum with a powerful and touching performance as a father grieving the loss of his young son in Past the Bleachers, for ABC.
As MacGyver came to an end, Richard and his partner, Michael Greenburg, had signed an overall deal with Paramount Pictures to develop and produce several films and series for television for their own production company, Gekko Film Corp. In their first project, Richard acted as both star and executive producer of two MacGyver movies for television, both of which were filmed in London in 1993. MacGyver: Lost Treasure of Atlantis and MacGyver: Trail to Doomsday aired in 1994 to critical acclaim. Their next project for Gekko was the 1995 TV series Legend for UPN. In it, Richard portrayed Ernest Pratt, a dime novelist who reluctantly takes on the role of his literary hero, Nicodemus Legend, in a lighthearted blend of western and science fiction. Once again Richard took on the role of executive producer, as well as demonstrating a considerable talent for comedy, in what he has described as his favorite role to date.
Following the premature cancellation of Legend, Richard signed an agreement with CBS television, and filmed a pilot episode for a new television series, Firehouse, although the series was not picked up by the network. His next appearance was as the heroic captain of a doomed airliner in the 1996 blockbuster NBC miniseries Pandora's Clock, which received critical acclaim and was an important ratings winner for the network. He followed this success by joining with MGM/UA and Showtime television in a joint deal with Gekko Film Corp to produce and star in the new science fiction series Stargate SG-1, based on the 1994 movie. His new series began production in Vancouver in February of 1997, and debuted to outstanding ratings on Showtime on July 27, 1997.
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