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Richard Dean Anderson: A 26-Year-Old 19-Year-Old Who's "Finally Growing Up"

Richard Dean Anderson

"I'm a 26-year-old 19-year-old, but I'm finally growing up," says Rick Anderson with a hearty laugh. Over some early morning coffee at a Westwood Village delicatessen, this sensational-looking "General Hospital" star, in his faded denims, elaborates about his questionable maturity.

"I have insight, wisdom and perception. If these are the qualities of maturity then I guess I am mature. But I hate that word. I have street knowledge, but I also know how to treat a lady."

When Rick entertains a female friend, he often pays special attention to creating a memorable dinner. Fine cuisine and wines are important to him. And so is honesty in a relationship.

Rick admits that he did not always treat ladies properly. "There was a period when I was not fair to women - the many women - I was with. But now I am very honest with a woman.

"I have been unfair and caused some pain here and there, but it's not worth it any more to me. You have to remember so many of those lies. So, now I am honest and it is a lot healthier. I have some very healthy relationships now."

However, there is no one fortunate female in Rick's life. "I don't want to be tied down, because I have a hard enough time taking care of myself." In fact, he doubts whether he will ever marry and have a family. "I guess with my mid-Western upbringing that would be the normal thing to do."

Yet, he adds tentatively, he believes he would make a good husband - or at least a good mate. It is the legal restrictions of marriage that make him uneasy.

"Monogamy, in a way, is a difficult concept for me. But, as I said, I'm not dishonest with any lady, and they know I have others. If I meet a woman who accepts that and would like to be a part of my world, then that is the beginning of something nice. I don't know if that sounds crass or not," he wonders.

Sounding crass should definitely not be one of Rick's prime concerns. He is a highly sensitive person able to relate openly. Never does he toss off an answer, even to the most personal of questions. But sometimes he is uncertain of his exact feelings.

For instance, Rick is not sure that his career is the most important thing in his life, even though he is pleased with his role as Dr. Jeff Webber.

"Right now it is taking up most of my time. Probably it is the biggest part of my life because it does take up most of my concentration. I have very little social life, which is okay. I live in the hills and I like serenity and quiet. I don't know hw to describe it - like a monk gone bad," he laughs.

Richard with Georganne LaPiere Richard with Georganne LaPiere

Looks like Georganne LaPiere's in good hands! She and co-star Richard Dean Anderson have established a close professional rapport.

There are few similarities between Rick and Jeff. Off-camera, Rick is the eldest son of four, as opposed to being the youngest in the Webber family. "And as far as I know," he laughs, "I've never been cuckolded. I'm sure the wool has been pulled over my eyes, but nothing as blatant as what is going on with Monica and Rick.

"I enjoy certain aspects about the show. The money is good. And the people are great - I just love them! The opportunity to learn in a situation like this is obviously very fortunate for me. Lord knows what our producer Tom Donovan is putting up with. I've caused him some problems - like stopping tape and forgetting lines - but hopefully it's all getting better."

Rick's initial adjustment to daytime drama was difficult. "I was always cocky about the things I could do. Like in sports, I could do anything. So it was hard going into something I couldn't master.

"Tom Donovan, who is a very bright and perceptive man, made me realize that it wasn't a life and death situation. He told me I was working too hard, which was really nice to hear."

Because Rick is not saddled with a weighty ego, he is able to take criticism. In fact, his acting coach told him that the two things he had to acquire to become a good actor were an ego and the knowledge of how to speak correctly, which Rick contends he still has trouble doing.

Dr. Jeff Webber

Rick initially had difficulties adjusting to his daytime role as Dr. Jeff Webber. He had to learn he wasn't in a "life & death situation." Fortunately, the actor readily accepts criticism - an asset, and doesn't have an overripe ego - an occupational hazard.

Richard with his motorcycle

"I've always had a child's sense of adventure," says Rick... and it was that which beckoned him to solo a 3-month bike trip through Canada. He was only 17, but learned to survive alone. Now, Rick likes serenity and quiet and says he lives "like a monk gone bad!"

Although Rick one day hopes to star in films, he refuses to push and "do the whole hustle business." Basically, he is a loner who began leaving his Minnesota home at 14 to follow his wanderlust.

"I always had a child's sense of adventure - to do it rather than to read about it. So, I'm not well-read."

Despite his numerous far-flung hitchhiking and bike trips, Rick managed to fall just a few courses shy of graduating from Ohio University. His father, a high school teacher and jazz musician who now resides in San Diego, understood Rick's anger and hostility.

"I used to grit my teeth a lot. Some of those days weren't real happy, yet my childhood wasn't particularly unhappy," says Rick as he recalls a solo three-month bike trip he took at 17, through Canada and Alaska, that changed his entire temperament.

"Right before was a rough period, when I was beating up and getting beaten up. But then there were those months when I was surviving alone. My father couldn't believe the change, which was pretty unbelievable.

"I had gone full circle. I became someone passive - a very listening and gentle person, which I am pretty grateful for. I mean I had great conversations with the cows along the way. In three months, you get a little batty.

"But it was great for me, because I knew I could survive by myself."

Koenigsberg, Alice. "I Know How to Treat a Lady." Daylight TV. April, 1977: p. 10-11 +38.