RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON: A FANTASY FULFILLED
If Richard Dean Anderson (Dr. Jeff Webber, "General Hospital") had one dream in his lifetime, it would be to be in a rock and roll band. Rick's dream has come true and it's all come about through working on his soap.
"I'd often be invited to make personal appearances. I'd be asked to sing and do a whole number. I can play the guitar and sing a little (He adds, "Well now, a lot.") but need that extra something to put the whole sound together. So I would ask Bob Lansing, Jr. [Emily "GH" McLaughlin's son] to accompany me on guitar. He makes it sound so much better."
Through Bob, Rick met Carl Dante, whose band is known internationally. An incredible friendship and business relationship has come about. "Carl and I have a wonderful rapport, like brothers. We must have known each other in another life or something."
Almost through osmosis, Rick Anderson is featured with the Carl Dante Band. He's lead singer and a rock and roll star. "Being with the band is like having a fantasy fulfilled. It's everything I ever wanted - to get up on stage, loosen up, do your thing, sing a little, play guitar, dance around a bit, use all my energy - that's what it's all about."
Rick and the band made their first national appearance on the Dinah Shore Show. Of course, it helped that the theme of that particular show was "Male Sex Symbols In Daytime Television." And Rick was coincidentally chosen as one of the males. It's a symbiotic relationship. Rick helps the band's exposure by the popularity of his Jeff Webber character and the band helps Rick satisfy a need that he desperately has.
It's no surprise that Carl Dante and Rick Anderson brought the house down at a recent rock party at Flippers Roller Boogie Palace in Hollywood. Nor did any of the regulars blink an eyelash when the band played to a standing-room-only crowd at the Bla-Bla Cafe in Studio City.
"There's a lot of energy behind what we do in a performance. Realistically, I don't have any grandiose expectations of what I will get out of this whole experience. I do it for my own fulfillment. I don't expect to get rich or famous from it. It's for me.
"The band now has a record deal in Germany. I couldn't go because of my contract with the show. I couldn't just take off for four months, although I really wanted to. I'm bored with the part that I play. Jeff Webber's character is very limited. He's a weak man. As an actor, I can't do too much with it. And I've played this part for almost five years."
Rick continues, "I don't think I'm a very good actor. I need more practice. Maybe I shouldn't be playing a leading-man type. I should be a cowboy or a villain. Anything but the role I'm doing."
Rick wants time to rejuvenate. "With the band gone, I'll try to relax. The show has stopped me from relaxing. I still fiddle around with my guitar. I'll fix up my motorcycle and start terrorizing the coasts of California. I'll go north and south. I rarely go inland because I have to stay near an ocean. I love the water. I love to swim, scuba dive and snorkel."
Mr. Anderson has a sense of wanderlust. "I have a yearning to hitchhike somewhere. I used to do it a lot but can't really do it now because I have a responsibility where I have to be in the studio, on the set, in rehearsals, etc. I'm glad I'm working, because it affords me the opportunity to live comfortably. I'd never be able to afford my house if I didn't have this job. Nor would I be able to buy a new and larger one. I had my eye on one recently. The house had lots of land; it was in the mountains overlooking the ocean and had a fireplace, too. I found out that it wasn't built very well and wasn't worth buying. C'est la vie."
Getting back to being on the road, Richard continues, "I left home at 13. Oh, I'd always come back, but I've had the sense of adventure since I was a kid. I'd hitchhike, jump a railroad freighter, bum back into town. At 17, I took a 6,000-mile bicycle trip all around the country and back." Rick points to a newspaper article relating to that experience. The article is framed and is hanging in his dressing room at General Hospital.
"I'm a very private person who doesn't socialize much," he reveals. "I'm not into this whole business of show business. In fact, I just fired my press agent. Acting doesn't really thrill me. I don't have to fulfill an ego. I've been on the soap for almost 5 years, and quite frankly, my character bores me." (Rick confirmed this in front of 50 million viewers on a recent Tomorrow Show taping. He said, "Acting doesn't do it for me; my best job was fighting forest fires!")
"There's so much that the writers can do with my character. The whole thing with Doug Sheehan (Joe Kelly) and I - we play music together, frolic together, have a comic timing, can race intellectually, and our friendship hasn't been tapped. They have created quasi-enemies on the show. That's a waste of time, when we could really be a comic relief. It could be a lot of fun; a breath of fresh air. Right now, it's so damn depressing."
It looks as if our Jeff Webber will be leaving the show when his contract is up in early '81. "The people who put the show together are blind to the realities of human relationships. They have no sensitivity. Some of the things we have to say are absurd. I'm hired to play a character and I have to say the lines that are written for me. It's no use to talk to the producers or writers; it won't help. It takes forever for any personality to take shape unless you get hit on the head and have amnesia. Then you can forget everything and start anew."
Fortunately for the producers, millions of viewers do not agree with Rick's thoughts. General Hospital has been the highest rated daytime serial not only in California, but in the entire country. And even Mr. Nielsen will vouch for that! The other actors that this reporter has spoken to from the show are grateful for their jobs and look forward to each day when they can portray their characters with creativity.
Is there something else you have a longing to do?
"Yes, to travel" - Rick thinks out loud. "Traveling has always been another one of my fantasies. Even though I did a lot as a kid, I always wanted to do more. I'm not a world traveler, but hope to be. Right now my father and I have been talking about going on a sailing trip [he is in San Diego], weighing anchor on a 37-foot sloop, drifting for a few weeks and then setting a course. Unfortunately, I don't have the time."
It looks as if Rick is making up for the lack of family life he wanted as a kid. "I left home very early, out of choice. I scrounged around and had to make do. I was kind of a country bumpkin. I left the family unit and kept bouncing back and forth. My parents got a divorce when I was 23. I was oblivious to what was going on at home. I was never there. My mom's out here now, too. Yeah, and my brother Jim, who even played an extra on the show. He sees the glamorous side of acting and it's all very exciting to him." Rick has two other brothers "scattered somewhere around the country."
Rick's relationships with people have certainly changed, especially with women. He has what he terms "a very loving relationship" with Cathy McGuinness. "It's a long one for me. Cathy used to go with a guy for 6 years; we're working on six months!
"There's a rumor going around that we're getting married. It's not true. Cathy is only 24 and she has a good five years before she even wants to think about settling down. And you know me - what a flirt I am! She's very realistic about my personality, my shortcomings, etc. Cathy says she loves me for what I am; she says it's part of my charm. I do spend time with other people; Cathy knows what I'm up to. It's just part of my nature. Sometime says she doesn't want to know what I'm doing when we're not together.
"I told Cathy that she can have all the freedom in the world. She says the same to me. I am very much in love with her. It's a switch from my other relationships, where I haven't lasted more than a month."
The couple met on an airplane. I was coming home from a ski vacation and looked like a total wreck. I had a beard, had skied that day and needed a shower, had jeans on and was all sweaty and stinky. Cathy recognized me and told me not to go anywhere. She's a stewardess and was on duty. Now where was I going go at 10,000 feet in the air? We talked, exchanged phone numbers. I called her shortly thereafter and we got together.
"When I meet a woman, I look straight into her eyes. There has to a glimmer, a spark, a certain something. The eyes do 'talk' a lot. Although there have been times that I've misread a lot of eyes!"
Rick talks about that spark in his relationship with Deidre Hall (Dr. Marlena Craig, Days of Our Lives). "I was attracted to Deidre but didn't do anything about it until we worked together at a personal appearance in Marineland. We sat next to each other on stage and kidded around a lot. Deidre told me I acted so cute. The spark, or whatever that mysterious chemical contact that comes about, was present that day. We talked about hockey. When Deidre told me that she adored the game, I invited her to one."
He continues, "I liked the woman's strength. She was very sophisticated and mature. I don't consider myself bright or sophisticated or any of those things. I admire those qualities in Deidre. And she liked the quality that I had that allowed me to play as a child. I was really misbehaving on stage! I liked the freedom that she allowed me. I got away with murder with my antics. She was very understanding and she happens to be gorgeous! I didn't fall out of love with her - it was a few personal things that happened. I wanted to salvage the friendship and end the romantic stuff. We are still good friends."
When asked if Rick thought that Deidre would marry soon (she's having a relationship with fellow cast member Quinn Redeker, who plays Alex Marshall), he replied, "No, why should she?"
The loudspeaker in Rick's dressing room comes to life. "On stage, Jeff, Luke and Laura." Rick makes his journey to the bright lights, a place he'd rather not be.