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Cult Times Special. September, 2005
By Thomasina Gibson


WHEREFORE ART THOU, RDA?

He may be gone from the SGC (bar the occasional drop-in),
but Richard Dean Anderson still has plenty going on in his life to keep him busy

O'Neill
O'Neill in pensive mood in Avalon, at Cameron Mitchell's bedside

Apart from a pair of tantalizing glimpses seen during Avalon and Origin, General Jack O'Neill has ambled from Stargate Command to a somewhat nebulous office based somewhere off our screens. After eight colourful and fun-filled years on Sci-Fi's most popular show, Anderson finally made the decision that home life rather than homeworld security was his prime objective. Sharing a bench on location during Season Eight's Citizen Joe, Anderson said, "I have been fairly vocal about how important it is for me to be with my daughter since the day Wylie was born, but the time has finally come when it feels right on all counts to say 'Bon voyage' to my Stargate family in order to spend more time with the most important person in my life." Indeed, a few months later Wylie's dad marked International Day of Women by telling CTV News that his daughter is "the most influential woman in my life. All aspects of my life have been altered since she came into the world in the most positive way imaginable."

Mr Anderson's 2004 departure from Stargate SG-1 has not meant a departure from the hearts and minds of television fans the world over, as evidenced by the number of nominations and awards the actor has garnered this year. Anderson's O'Neill romped away with 46% of the votes for Favourite Male Character at the Third Annual Spacey Awards, which honour the finest in Science Fiction film and television. As eccentric as ever, he accepted his award wearing scuba diving gear in a swimming pool. Clearly the water failed to dampen the man's appreciation of the risqué, as he rather nasally announced, "I would like to thank, in all seriousness, all the fans who voted for Jack O'Neill..." Making quotation marks round the name, he went on to say, "If you look on your programmes, that's 'Jack' O'Neill. If you think about that it's got a really filthy connotation." Only Richard Dean Anderson or a particularly immature 12-year-old boy (and is there any difference, we ask ourselves?) would think like that. It's good to know his sense of the irreverent has stayed the same.

Although his military uniforms are stored in mothballs for the time being, Anderson's penchant for saving the world continues unabated. The start of the year saw him participate in a star-studded winter sports competition in support of the Waterkeepers Alliance, a group dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of endangered rivers and riverside communities across the globe. Even the inhospitable weather failed to dent Anderson's enthusiasm: "I'm from Minnesota. I was born during a snow storm and it was 25 below." Anderson won both of his races (for the umpteenth year) and helped raise a staggering half a million pounds for the Trust.

O'Neill
The very beginning of RDA's time on the show

O'Neill
It's good to know Jack still has time for coffee with his friends

O'Neill
The quintessential Jack O'Neill facial expression

The man's gallivanting came to an abrupt but thankfully temporary end when he broke his ankle in a 'waggoning' accident whilst saving his daughter, and then had to recline and rest for six weeks. Many of his friends - including those visiting his official website - were subjected to a barrage of entertaining and often thought-provoking e-mails as he tried to alleviate his boredom (see www.rdanderson.com for details). However, it wasn't long before action man Anderson was up and running - well, moving slowly - and throwing himself into a wealth of projects which have not only saved his sanity but helped preserve the best things in life for the rest of us.

March saw him honour a long-time promise by joining Paul Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society at the protest against the slaughter of baby seals in Nova Scotia. Anderson first told me of his involvement with the international group after he returned from a visit to the Galapagos Islands, where the Sea Shepherd was helping to prevent illegal poaching of protected marine animals in the region. A long-term supporter for many years, he's currently on the Board of Directors and is fully committed to using his celebrity to help further their and other worthy causes. "I didn't actively seek celebrity, but one of the more fortunate aspects of the nature of my job, I mean as an actor of some small amount of international recognition and 'fame,' if you will, is that I can use my face and my name and my voice to get people to at least take notice of some of the global issues that affect us all," he said. Anderson is delighted that photographs taken on the Canadian mission have afforded fans the opportunity to support the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's quest to stop the commercial seal hunt. "The Signed and Sealed charity autograph project is an undertaking very dear to my heart. Legends Memorabilia has some wonderful images for sale on their site www.legends-memorabilia.com. I have autographed every one and every penny made will go straight to the charity."

Another of Anderson's personal dreams came true this summer when he was finally invited to appear on The Simpsons. "Can you believe it?" he grinned. "I play myself on a visit to Springfield. I get kidnapped by Patty and Selma. The episode is called Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore and should air around March next year. My career is complete." We do hope not.

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Gibson, Thomasina. "Wherefore Art Thou, RDA?." Cult Times Special #35. September, 2005: p. 18-20.

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