Richard Dean Anderson (born January 23, 1950) is an American television and film actor, producer and composer. He began his television career in 1976 as Dr. Jeff Webber in the American soap opera series General Hospital, then rose to prominence as the lead actor in the television series MacGyver (1985–1992). Anderson later appeared in films, including Through the Eyes of a Killer (1992), Pandora's Clock (1996) and Firehouse (1997).
In 1997, Anderson returned to television as the lead actor of the series Stargate SG-1, a spin-off of the 1994 film Stargate. He played the lead from 1997–2005 and had a recurring role from 2005–07. Since 1997, the only film Anderson has starred in is Stargate: Continuum released in 2008 as a spin-off film after Stargate SG-1 was cancelled in 2007. He appears in the follow-up Stargate series Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate: Universe (as Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill).
Anderson studied to become an actor at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and later at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota but dropped out before he received his degree because he felt "listless". Right after his junior year in college, Anderson participated with friends in a cross-country bike ride from Minnesota to Alaska. He then moved to San Francisco, then New York, then moved permanently to Los Angeles. At the start he worked as a whale handler in a marine mammal show, a musician in medieval dinner theater, and as a street mime and juggler. Anderson has stated that this period was "the happiest of my life" and has expressed an interest in teaching juggling, clowning and other circus arts to disadvantaged youths.
Anderson's first role was in the American soap opera, General Hospital as Dr. Jeff Webber from 1976 to 1981. In 1982–1983 He starred as Adam in the CBS television series Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (based very loosely on the movie of the same name). In the 1983–1984 season, he played Lieutenant Simon Adams on the 22-week Dennis Weaver series Emerald Point N.A.S. on CBS, stealing away Celia Warren (Susan Dey), the wife of naval lawyer Jack Warren (Charles Frank)Anderson then played Tony Kaiser in the acclaimed TV movie Ordinary Heroes, which aired in 1986.
Anderson came to fame in the lead role of Angus MacGyver in the hit television series MacGyver, which lasted from 1985 to 1992 and was highly successful throughout its 7-year run. He would go on to produce two follow-up movies to MacGyver, in 1994. After the cancellation of MacGyver, Anderson stated "MacGyver was seven years of being in virtually every frame that was shot and having absolutely no life at all."
In 1995 he co-starred with John de Lancie in Legend, a comic series of only twelve episodes about a dime novel writer within the Wild West who against his will has to play the role of his own fictional character. Originally written as a TV movie, with the decision to make Legend a series, the original teleplay became the two-hour pilot episode. Anderson was applauded for his roles as Ernest Pratt and Nicodemus Legend by many critics, most notably John O'Connor from The New York Times