‘MacGyver’ Star Richard Dean Anderson

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on August 4, 2002

I'd like to know about the man who played the lead in the show MacGyver.
—Nancy A., Iowa

He's Richard Dean Anderson, and you can catch him on the Showtime sci-fi series Stargate SG-1, for which he is also executive producer. The series also began airing on the Sci-Fi Channel this year. On the show, Anderson plays Col. Jack O'Neill, head of a military team that travels through space via a stargate. It's based on the 1994 film of the same name. The 52-year-old Anderson was born in Minneapolis and set out to carve a career as a professional hockey player. He broke both arms while playing the sport, so he turned toward other career options. With a musician father and an artist mother, it was natural that he chose the arts and studied drama while attending St. Cloud State College and Ohio University. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles and made a living as a street mime, juggler, jester, and from various other jobs. Eventually, he played Dr. Jeff Webber on General Hospital, staying there for five years. A few prime-time series followed, all of them short-lived until MacGyver. That show lasted seven years, and the character's ingenious use of everyday objects as handy tools to get him out of fixes led to a new slang term. (To MacGyver something means using it in an unexpected way.) Anderson has a 3-year-old daughter, Wylie. They and Wylie's mother divide their time between homes in California and British Columbia.