Richard Dean Anderson in MacGyver (1985)

In 1996, when it was announced Richard Dean Anderson would be cast as Jack O’Neill, there was some scepticism the actor would be able to overcome Kurt Russell’s shadow.

Fans of the 1994 Roland Emmerich directed action adventure science fiction “Stargate,” will undoubtedly recall it was Russell that originally donned Colonel Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neil’s military chevrons. Despite any misgivings critics may have had of Anderson stepping into the colonel’s shoes, the actor quickly made the character his own.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States on 23 Jan. 1950, the actor began his career when he put on the white doctor’s coat of Jeff Webber in the popular Doris HursleyFrank Hursley created medical soap opera “General Hospital.”

Even though Anderson, the son of Stewart Jay Anderson and Jocelyn Rhae Carter, had contemplated a career in front of the camera as an actor, he had entertained aspirations of becoming a jazz musician. These aspirations came to an end when he studied to become an actor at St. Cloud State University and then at Ohio University. Because of what Anderson is quoted to have referenced as listlessness, he did not complete his degree program.

By the time Anderson had taken on the title role in the Lee David Zlotoff created action adventure crime series “MacGyver,” the Minneapolis born actor had already made waves in both “The Love Boat” and the short lived U.S. Navy drama “Emerald Point N.A.S.

With Anderson and MacGyver being synonymously linked, it became impossible to think of the term “MacGyvered” without conquering up an image of the actor jerry-rigging a way out of a seemingly inescapable situation.

While the popularity of the Zlotoff created series would later see a rebooted incarnation, Anderson returned to the role in two 1994 made-for-television movies, the Michael Vejar directed “MacGyver: Lost Treasure of Atlantis” and “MacGyver: Trail to Doomsday.” Further, in 2012, Anderson was seen again as MacGyver in the television mini-series “Mercedes-Benz: MacGyver and the new Citan.”

When Anderson joined the “Stargate SG-1” cast, no one could have imagined how immense the franchise would become. Further to the 1997 series, which ran for ten seasons and two made-for-television movies specifically produced to bring to a close story threads left dangling, the television franchise would go on to include “Stargate: Atlantis,” “SGU Stargate Universe” and the soon to be premiered via online streaming “Stargate Origins.”

The Faces of Richard Dean Anderson

In addition to Anderson, other entertainment professionals born on this day include:

For a more comprehensive list of entertainment professionals born on 23 January, click the provided link.

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Shain E. Thomas, a contributor to the Handbook of Texas Online, is a University of North Texas graduate student majoring in Library Information Science.

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