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Rest in peace, Richard Anderson, best boss of the bionic era

The late actor memorably played Oscar Goldman, boss of Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers on 1970s shows "Six Million Dollar Man" and spinoff "Bionic Woman."

Richard Anderson, who played government agent Oscar Goldman on "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman," died Thursday of natural causes at age 91, the New York Times reported.

"Richard became a dear and loyal friend, and I have never met a man like him," "Six Million Dollar Man" star Lee Majors said in a statement obtained by CBS. "I called him 'Old Money.' His always stylish attire, his class, calmness and knowledge never faltered in his 91 years."

Anderson had numerous other roles in his long career -- he appeared in the cult sci-fi classic "Forbidden Planet" and Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory," among other films. And his television resume is vast, from his many appearances on "Perry Mason" to his appearances on 1970s to 1980s classics such as "Charlie's Angels," "Love Boat," "The A-Team" and "Dynasty." He was even the commercial spokesman known as the Shell Answer Man for Shell Oil from 1976 to1982.

But it was as the boss of bionic Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers that Anderson will be forever remembered. 


Here's the photo of the three "Six Million Dollar Man" dolls we used in "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?" Sure, it made sense that Steve Austin and Bionic Bigfoot were memorialized in action figures, but few bosses made the cut to toydom like Richard Anderson's Oscar Goldman did.

Ensemble Creative, from "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?"

Anderson (as Goldman) spoke the memorable voiceover from the "Six Million Dollar Man" opening credits, lines quoted hundreds of times since then on playgrounds, in stand-up comedy routines, and now-grown '70s kids joking about the need to repair something.

"Steve Austin. Astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him," Anderson famously said. "We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man, better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster."

To kids of the '70s, Anderson's Goldman was the consummate boss. Professional at his desk, almost fatherly to his employees, and cool as the other side of the pillow when a crisis emerged. When Goldman's life was put in danger, the plot hung in the balance just as much as if Austin or Sommers were in trouble. Though he tried to wave off any concern for himself, viewers couldn't imagine a show without him. Leave no Oscar behind!

In 2011, I co-wrote a book, "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?" about the nostalgia of the 1970s and 1980s. My co-author and I scrounged up a number of toys and other props to illustrate the book, including the famous dolls of Austin and Sommers, which fascinated kids of our childhood due to the various plastic bionic pieces they featured. You could look through Austin's bionic eye, and Sommers' head clicked when turned to indicate she was using her bionic ear. We even got our hands on a Bionic Bigfoot doll. 

But my favorite of all the dolls we acquired for the shoot was the Oscar Goldman doll, based on Anderson. He wore a loud plaid checked jacket over a green shirt, typical of the then-mod outfits Anderson wore on the show. And while he had no bionics, he came with an accessory -- an exploding briefcase. Open it one way, and you could see all Oscar's thrilling documents. Open it the other, as if you'd stolen it, and it blew up. (Kind of. The removable plastic outside flew off, and the "documents" printed inside were seen to be damaged.)

That was Anderson's Goldman, forever the boss with a twist.

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