Like many small-screen veterans who headline a hit network series for multiple seasons, the fresh-faced, genial American actor Richard Dean Anderson will forever be associated with one role -- that of Angus MacGyver, the multilingual, crack Special Forces agent and science expert capable of using common household substances and implements to perform feats of wonder, on the Henry Winkler-produced action-adventure series MacGyver. Although Anderson's resumé packs in a number of key telemovies and a recurrent starring role on the popular Stargate SG-1, the actor is best known for turning MacGyver into a veritable American icon for Gen-Xers during the mid- to late '80s and early '90s.
Anderson was born on January 23, 1950, in Minneapolis, MN, to a schoolteacher father, Stuart Anderson, who taught English, humanities, and drama at an area high school, and an artist mother. During middle school and high school, Anderson's plans to embark on a career as a professional hockey player were curtailed by two unfortunate accidents in which he broke both arms, encouraging the young man to pursue drama as an alternate option. After high school, Anderson enrolled in both St. Cloud State University and Ohio University, where he studied acting, but -- feeling listless -- he dropped out before receiving his degree, and spent time in San Francisco and Manhattan, then moved permanently to L.A. In Southern California, Anderson held down gigs as a street mime, juggler, and aquatic performer at Marineland, then appeared in the stage production Superman in the Bones at the Pilgrimage Theatre.