Wednesday 24 July 2013

Richard Dean Anderson

Perhaps better known as either MacGyver or Jack O'Neill, Richard was born in Minnesota on 23 January 1950. In his youth, Richard dreamed of being a professional hockey player, but two broken arms subsequently caused him to alter his dreams.

After dropping out of college because he wasn't feeling it, Richard eventually settled in Los Angeles (in the early 1970s). He worked a variety of jobs including: marine mammal trainer, musician at a medieval dinner theatre (sweet!), and juggler. Apparently, Richard really loved juggling, and once mentioned that he would like to teach circus arts to disadvantaged youths. (FYI: circus school is real. I have a friend who attends - she is learning the trapeze, among other things).

In 1976, Richard got his first big television role. He was cast as Dr. Jeff Webber on General Hospital. Richard played that part until 1981, after which he was on a series of short-lived shows.

Richard rocketed to fame in 1985 when he started playing MacGyver, lead character of the eponymous show. MacGyver's first name is Angus, but apparently viewers weren't privy to that fact until the last season. MacGyver ran for seven seasons (1985-1992), and was a very busy time for Richard. Since he was the star (along with his Swiss Army knife), he was in almost every frame. According to him, he had very little time for a life during those seven years.

From 1997 to 2005, Richard played Jack O'Neill in the television show Stargate SG-1. The show was based on the movie Stargate; Richard played the character initially played by Kurt Russell. The president of MGM asked Richard to act in the show, which Richard agreed to after careful consideration. Richard had two requests: he could portray his character in a more comedic way than Russell had in the movie and the show would be an ensemble cast. Richard did not want to be as busy as he had been when filming MacGyver. I think those were reasonable requests. Comedy rules, and ensemble shows are great. They give more actors a chance to shine. I realize Richard was primarily thinking of himself when making that request, but it's nice for a more-established actor to request more screen time for the lesser-knowns.

Richard had a daughter in 1998. As she grew, he wanted to spend more time with her. Consequently, Richard reduced his appearances on Stargate, becoming a frequent guest star rather than a permanent cast member. He has also appeared in Stargate follow-ups Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe.

Richard was made an honorary brigadier general by the Air Force in 2004 because Stargate portrayed the Air Force in a positive light. He has also received awards from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he avidly supports the Special Olympics, and he works to combat water pollution and multiple sclerosis.

Overall, Richard sounds like a cool guy. He enjoys The Simpsons and happily stars in commercials that mock MacGyver. What a good sport.


Richard Dean Anderson Comic Con 2008.jpg
Richard in 2008

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Dicks Getting Crowns

July is a big month for Richards becoming kings. Today, July 16, was the day of Richard II's coronation back in 1377. Richard was only ten years old at the time, and he supposedly was so tired by the end that Sir Simon Burley, his tutor, had to carry him out.

Earlier this month was the coronation of Richard III and his wife Anne Neville. This double coronation took place on July 6, 1483.

Finally, Henry II died on July 6, 1189. Consequently, Richard I became king on July 6 - the same day Richard III had his coronation. Did Richard III do that on purpose?

Some images to celebrate:
File:Church of Fontevraud Abbey Richard I effigy.jpg

Thursday 11 July 2013

Richard Hunt

Richard Hunt was an American puppeteer, best known for his work with the Muppets.

Richard was born 16 August 1951 and showed an early interest in puppets, putting on shows for local children when he was in middle and high school. After briefly serving as a weatherman, Richard got in touch with Jim Hensen and became one of the Muppets crew in 1969.

Richard portrayed a variety of characters for Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and Fraggle Rock. On Sesame Street, Richard voiced characters such as Placido Flamingo, Gladys the Cow, and Elmo (an early version). On Fraggle Rock, he was Junior Gorg. Most of Richard's work, however, was with the Muppets. For a time, he and Frank Oz shared the role of Miss Piggy. Later Richard voiced and controlled Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler, and Sweetums.

Sadly, Richard died on 7 January 1992 from complications from AIDS. He was sorely missed by the Muppet Family. To read some tributes to Richard (including one written by Kermit the Frog), click here.

Richard Hunt

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Dick Trickle

I heard this name a couple of months ago, and I was highly amused by it. Now that I have read about Richard "Dick" Trickle, I feel a bit bad about finding his name so hilarious.

Dick was a famous race-car driver. About the only things I know about car racing are that it involves cars and racing to finish first, so bear with me here.

It seems that Dick specialized in short-track racing. According to some estimates, Dick was in over 2,200 races and won more than 1,200. That sounds pretty amazing to me. Baseball players are considered good if they can bat .500, and Dick has that beat.

Dick was born on 27 October 1947 in Wisconsin. At the tender age of 8, he fell and broke his hip. He had to wear a cast, covering his body from waist to foot, for three years! His recovery was so slow that his doctors thought he would end up a life-long invalid, but Dick was able to walk again, albeit with a slight limp.

It was while he was still in a cast that he saw his first car race. He never forgot it. Although Wikipedia doesn't say so, I like to theorize that he was so mesmerized by the cars because he saw in them a way to get around without walking (he was still in a cast at the time, remember). If I were writing a screenplay of his life, little Dick would say something to that effect. Get on it, Hollywood!

As a teen, Dick worked some in a blacksmith's shop. He learned a great deal about machinery. In the late 1950s, Dick would purchase regular cars and turn them into race cars himself. I'm impressed by this. I thought all race-car drivers did was drive fast cars; I didn't realize that some drivers also built them. Way to go, Dick!

At first, Dick mostly raced within Wisconsin. In fact, he had a day job for a few years before he decided to race full time. Even then, Dick was still largely doing his own car work, although he sometimes had help with the engine.

He was, obviously, a successful racer. In 1968 he was the USAC Stock Car Rookie of the Year. In 1989, he made his NASCAR debut, winning "Rookie of the Year" at the Winston/Sprint Cup. He was 48 years old, and he made a joke about it, saying "I guess I’d just like to thank everyone who gave a young guy like me a chance". He won a NASCAR race in 1990, but was more of a top-ten finisher than a number one racer. But that's pretty good, especially since he had already finished a full racing career.

Apparently, Dick was a committed smoker. He had a hole drilled in his safety helmet so that he could insert a cigarette.

Sadly, Dick committed suicide on 16 May 2013. Dick shot himself around noon at a cemetery in North Carolina. Before killing himself, he had called the police to report his own suicide, although he had not left his name. Dick's family released a statement saying Dick had been in chronic pain, and, despite consultations with many doctors, had been unable to find relief. Dick was only 71.

Dick was survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren. Some of his family, however, predeceased him. According to Wikipedia, he had a nephew who was killed in a drive-by shooting and a granddaughter who was killed in a car accident (and buried in the cemetery in which he committed suicide). That's a lot of tragedy for one family.