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Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

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Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Lzcutter » June 4th, 2015, 6:39 pm

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"When people ask me where I received my education, I tell them it was at MGM-U. The biggest lessons I learned is that acting is a talent. You can't teach it. And even if you have the talent you have to get a part." - Richard Anderson

Author Al Doshna, whose background as an actor and writer make him an apt choice to co-write a memoir by veteran actor Richard Anderson, will be joining us Saturday, June 6th and Sunday, June 7th at the Silver Screen Oasis. His latest book was written with an actor of exceptional range, whose life on and off the set is explored in Richard Anderson: At Last, A Memoir From to the Golden Years of MGM and The Six Million Dollar Man to Now (BearManor). The book, described by one reviewer as a "fascinating treasure trove of anecdotes from throughout Richard’s amazing life," has been hailed by more than one reader as a book in which "every page [is] like a cozy fireside visit with friends."

Al Doshna covers Anderson’s humble beginnings as a young contract actor at that most fabled of dream factories, MGM to his early roles including FORBIDDEN PLANET, SCARAMOUCHE, ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI, and THE BUSTER KEATON STORY. Such legendary figures as Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and Cary Grant are part of his life in each chapter, along with exceptional directors such as John Sturges, William Wellman, John Frankenheimer, and Stanley Kubrick.

Anderson was also there for the classic era of television with stints on everything from Disney’s take on Zorro to The Rifleman to The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. And he starred as Oscar Goldman in the classic series, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. The actor, whose debonair style blends nimbly with a natural gravitas, offers his own insights into the changing nature of the entertainment business as he also comments on the artistry and craftsmanship he has witnessed in a career that has spanned over half a century.

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Please join us on June 6th and June 7 to discuss with Al Doshna this distinctive actor's travels from stage, screen, and television and to explore the wide-ranging interests of the author into the world of entertainment. All are welcome!

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Al will be here Saturday, June 6th and June 7th to take your questions!
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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby moira finnie » June 6th, 2015, 9:43 am

Hi Mr. Doshna,
Thanks so much for joining us here this weekend. Richard Anderson has been an interesting presence in so many classic films and television shows but the memoir, which I am currently enjoying reading held some surprises about his early career. Could you explain the role that Cary Grant and Betsy Drake played in his life? Did Mr. Anderson remain friendly with both after their divorce? How did Grant's mentoring help the actor to develop his career?

Thanks in advance for any information you can share.
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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Al Doshna » June 6th, 2015, 10:14 am

Hi Moira,

Thank you for having me here.
Richard was appearing on Lights, Camera, Action! which was an early TV series and kind of a forerunner of American Idol-type shows except that it was geared towards acting scenes. Cary Grant's wife Betsy Drake who was an actress herself happened to see Richard on the show and being impressed by what she saw, called her husband Cary into the room. He was also impressed and so they decided to try to help him. He was introduced to Dore Schary who was then head of the studio, was given a screen test and before long became an MGM contract player! The couple helped him in various ways as far as networking goes and he and Cary remained friends over the years in spite of both becoming very busy with their careers and personal lives.
It's an interesting question as to how much Cary influenced Richard as an actor. Of course Richard was admittedly influenced by Gary Cooper in that way, with him being more of a minimalist, whereas Cary could be more broad especially in his comedy roles. I will ask Richard about that.

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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Lzcutter » June 6th, 2015, 10:28 am

Al,

Good morning! Thank you for joining us this weekend!

I have a question for you- how did you meet Richard Anderson and what was it like working on the book with him?

Thanks again!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Mrs. Osborne » June 6th, 2015, 11:07 am

Hi Al:

What did you learn about Mr. Anderson that you did not know before?

Thanks and great job on the book!

Alexa (Mrs. Osborne)

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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Al Doshna » June 6th, 2015, 11:38 am

Hi Alexa,

Just one quick thing, there was no place for me to reply to the question above yours. Hopefully that can be fixed.

Sorry for the digression. Thank you, glad you enjoyed it. I realize there is so much that could be covered that I was hoping that we could do justice to the subject and for the fans.

I met him when I was volunteering for the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles. It was at an autograph show at the Hilton Hotel in Burbank where they had a table set up. Actually I had seen him from afar at a previous one but was very short of funds at the time and I couldn't bring myself to approach him without buying an autographed picture! This haunted me and at the next one I made a point to go up and introduce myself to him. I gave him samples of my work and asked about the possibility of doing an interview with him which he agreed to, after reading them.

The striking thing I noticed about him upon meeting was his charm and whimsical sense of humor. I felt that I could just turn on the recorder and transcribe it, unedited and people would still enjoy it. I had expected him to be more serious and intense, but not so. One other important thing I learned about him was his value of gratitude and appreciation for all he has been given. Good role model in that, for me!

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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby kingrat » June 6th, 2015, 11:42 am

Thanks so much for chatting with us. I've always been a big fan of Richard Anderson since I was a child. He was always reliable in every role he played.

1. Although the series did not last long, Richard Anderson played a district attorney on Bus Stop, based very loosely on the William Inge play. Did Richard have any memories or comments about this series? I remember the controversial episode starring Fabian, who played a disturbed and vicious young man who injured himself and claimed police brutality and was involved with Dianne Foster, who played Richard Anderson's wife.

2. It was a great thrill to see Richard Anderson at the TCM Film Festival for a showing of Seconds. Did he enjoy working with John Frankenheimer on this film? Did he have any Rock Hudson stories?

3. What were some of his favorite roles, either on film or on TV?

I'm looking forward to reading your book.

Thanks,

David

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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » June 6th, 2015, 11:48 am

Hello, Al. We are so happy that you have joined us here at the SSO.

I really enjoyed seeing Richard Anderson introduce Seconds (1966) at the TCM Film Festival in 2012, and another of our members, kingrat, was also able to attend. We really enjoyed seeing Richard Anderson Introduce this film.

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Can you offer any more insight into Mr. Anderson's involvement with his participation in this film? When they were filming his scenes, was he cognizant of the fact that it was such an unusual choice for Rock Hudson? Also, I can remember wondering what ever appened to Salome Jens. I know she had been active for a while in live theatre in California. Any insights about Jens?

Thank you so much for your participation here. :D
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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Al Doshna » June 6th, 2015, 1:21 pm

Bus Stop was Richard's first real regular series so his main objective was to "keep the show going" at the time. He was very happy for the step up at the time. He remembers producer Aaron Spelling driving by him one time, being very excited and telling him "That's some great work." Unfortunately Fox didn't go for it and the show was cancelled.

He enjoyed working with John Frankenheimer, whom he also worked with on Seven Days in May, whom he said was easy to work with. They also used to play tennis together. Richard found that directors tended to trust his judgment and to let him do as he saw fit. It's a matter of the actor "telling the story" which they had confidence in him doing.

Seconds, he said, went so fast, it was just a quick set up. For him it was really the work and to try to do the best with what came available. He has an interesting section in the book about "the last scene" which he learned on that film. He really didn't know Rock Hudson very well apart from working, and that he enjoyed working with him on their films together but nothing of particular note to report. However the film is one of the ones he is most asked about. Salome Jens, he doesn't really have anything to say other than that things seemed to get off to a slow start and didn't really come together for her.

There is a chapter in the book about some of his favorite roles apart Six Mill, including Paths of Glory, Compulsion and some of the TV series which were of particular quality.

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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Mrs. Osborne » June 6th, 2015, 1:33 pm

Al

How did Mr. Anderson feel about the studio system?

Thanks
Alexa

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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby movieman1957 » June 6th, 2015, 2:08 pm

Thank you for visiting with us Mr. Doshna.

Mr. Anderson has a long and impressive catalog but was there ever a plan B if acting didn't work?
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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby moira finnie » June 6th, 2015, 2:18 pm

Thank you for answering my earlier question.

Two of the most interesting chapters in the book for me dealt with topics other than show business. The first was about his family's struggles in the Depression and their leaving NYC for California in the '30s. Did Mr. Anderson have any memories of California in those days as a place to live?

I was also intrigued when Mr. Anderson wrote about the need as an actor to have a balanced life away from business, social, or artistic concerns. How was he able to keep himself on an even keel in a relatively volatile line of work?
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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Al Doshna » June 6th, 2015, 2:38 pm

Mr. Anderson has a long and impressive catalog but was there ever a plan B if acting didn't work?



Unfortunately you mentioned his long and impressive catalog so I won't be able to kid you and say "Uh, oh, I'm not gonna ask him that one!!" Oh well..

It doesn't seem like he ever gave it a serious thought. He was a sports writer in the army and he is currently enjoying a distinguished career as an author (ahem) so it's kind of a tough "What if" question, but I think part of his success was that he knew what he wanted to do and he did it. Of course he even wanted to be a producer when he first worked at MGM which he later did with the bionic movies so, not too much wiggle room other than those I guess.

Got the reply thing down now, folks. Thanks Lynn!

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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Al Doshna » June 6th, 2015, 2:46 pm

How did Mr. Anderson feel about the studio system?



I think he sees it as having been a two edged sword. On the one hand he benefitted from it in a number of ways such as his training - his real success came after he left for Paths of Glory, although it was a great experience overall for him. But he also realized there was a down side, such as in the book quoting Myrna Loy as describing it as a "sweat shop." Also Louie B. Mayer and the other studio had a sense of "ownership" as he calls it, where the films were a source of pride in a way that may not be or seem evident in more recent films.

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Re: Al Doshna, author of Richard Anderson: At Last, on 6/6-6/7

Postby Al Doshna » June 6th, 2015, 3:03 pm

Two of the most interesting chapters in the book for me dealt with topics other than show business. The first was about his family's struggles in the Depression and their leaving NYC for California in the '30s. Did Mr. Anderson have any memories of California in those days as a place to live?

I was also intrigued when Mr. Anderson wrote about the need as an actor to have a balanced life away from business, social, or artistic concerns. How was he able to keep himself on an even keel in a relatively volatile line of work?


I get the impression that it was all pretty favorable, with the tennis with his brother and Peter Lawford and the Bruin Theatre and, one of my favorite parts in the book, with good ol' Tom Crumpler. But even with Tom he couldn't afford to play the games there and there were the tennis rackets sold with fruit attached as an incentive to buy, but his memories tended to be pride in his successes in school and other accomplishments apart from general physical circumstances.

At this point in his life it is not as stressful - as he would say to people who would encourage him to write a book about his life - "I'm still living it!" But it was not always so and he was not always as successful at it as he would have liked, but tried to and did make the best of things. He turns down roles because it's getting back into the same thing. But if someone were to try to do something like acting, it is a good thing to strive for as the alternative leaves much to be desired.


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