For years all I would hear was that he is a very private person and so convention appearances were rare. I would read about his occasional appearances on the West Coast and abroad and feel green with envy for any fan who actually got to meet him. After I traveled to Vancouver B.C. for a convention in 2009 and still didn’t get to see him, I resigned myself to the fact that I probably never would. When I found out he was added to the 2012 Dragon*Con guest list I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was literally three days before I could think about it without feeling like someone should have been handing me a brown paper bag to breathe into! I was going to meet Richard Dean Anderson!
I first became a fan of Richard Dean Anderson through my favorite sci-fi series, Stargate SG-1. Eventually, just like with each of the cast members, I became curious about the rest of Richard’s career. I had heard of MacGyver, but the series was new to me when I tracked it down. I had so much fun watching it that when the series was released on DVD I decided to collect all seven seasons. Still, nothing was more exciting to me than the idea of meeting the man who portrayed Jack O’Neill and contributed so much to a series that ran for ten seasons (and launched two spin-off series) by working both on camera and behind the scenes as an executive producer for several seasons. I can’t imagine what the Stargate franchise would have been like without him. Given that this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity, I resolved to take full advantage of it by buying a photo op and autograph tickets.
I have collected just a hand full of photo-ops over the years. In every case, I have been fortunate enough to see the star that I will be getting a picture with on stage before the photo. That has always given me the perfect opportunity to get all the fangirl squeals and “Oh my God”‘s out of my system. This time I wasn’t so lucky!
There were three scheduled photo-op times, all of them conflicting with something else in my Dragon*Con game plan, so I decided to go at the earliest opportunity, 10:30 on Friday morning. This would allow the right amount of time afterward to get in line for Richard’s first panel at the convention, and also prevent the humid weather from killing my hairdo! However, it didn’t give me the chance to get the squealies out. All in all, I think I did pretty well while I waited in line for my turn. There were a few OMG’s and barely contained squeals once I realized he was in the room, but I managed to avoid making a complete idiot out of myself. Having MajorSamFan there with me to keep me on the ground was a huge help. She had met Richard before, so although she was excited, she was probably on cloud five while I was on cloud nine!
Richard was smiling, laughing, and was just completely friendly and approachable throughout the whole photo session. He took a second to say something to everyone. For anyone who has had a photo-op, sometimes these few precious seconds are more important and special than the photo itself. I think I can safely say that the attention that he gave to each and every fan meant so very much to all of us.
You know a photo-op is good when you look at the picture and can’t stop smiling. It’s not just the picture that makes you happy. It’s the memory of those few precious seconds. I remember the experience of getting my photo op with Michael Shanks and Amanda Tapping in 2009 like it was yesterday, and I know I will always remember my op with Richard just as clearly. I walked up for my turn and squeaked out a “hi”, which he warmly returned. Next thing I knew his arm was around my shoulders pulling me in snugly. I bit down on another squeal as I grinned for the camera. Finally I took a quick second to look up at him as he released me and said, “Thank you so much!” He smiled graciously and replied, “Aww, bless your heart!” Yeah, I had to bite down another squeal as I stumbled over to retrieve my backpack and catch up with MajorSamFan. I was grinning like an idiot the whole way!
When it was announced that Richard would be doing autographs as well as photo-ops, I knew I couldn’t pass up what could be my only opportunity to get two very important items signed. When I went to my first Stargate convention in 2004, I bought a small team poster that included the four original SG-1 team members and General Hammond. That year it was signed by Don S. Davis and Michael Shanks. I brought it back the following year for Christopher Judge to sign it. In 2009, Amanda Tapping signed it for me, leaving only one signature missing. As years passed I feared that I would never get that signature, but not anymore! On Saturday I camped out in Richard’s autograph line, making new friends and chatting with some old acquaintances along the way. When it was my turn, Richard looked at the other signatures on the poster and followed their lead, personalizing it just the way I always dreamed he would. As he handed the poster back to me he said, “So now you’ve got everyone except Don, huh?” I was all too happy to tell him that the late Don Davis did sign it, only in a very fine gold pen that’s hard to spot at first glance. He smiled as I told him that it took eight years to collect everyone’s autograph on that poster!
The second item I had signed was my Ten Years of Stargate book. It has been a perfect way to collect autographs of the many stars I have met. There was no way I was going to miss the chance to add Richard’s autograph to my book. After much deliberation over where I was going to have him sign, I decided that nothing less than a full page would do. I found a blank black page at the front, knowing that his signature would look really sharp against the black if he signed with a silver pen. When he asked me where to sign I pointed out the black page and said, “Go head and used the whole page!” He looked up at me with a mischievous look on his face, and with the air of a kid who’d just been told he could go play in the mud he said, “Really?” I thought, oh boy! but laughed and said, “Yeah! Go for it!” I was tickled pink as I watched him write, “To Alyssa, KAWOOOOSH!! Richard Dean Anderson.” I couldn’t have asked for a better autograph…or a better memory!
Of all the star encounters I have had since I started going to conventions, meeting Richard Dean Anderson will always stand out for so many reasons. It was an item on my bucket list, something I had become convinced would never actually happen. My expectations were only met, they were blown away! Richard was so friendly, approachable, and just . . . indescribably amazing. You would think that’s not possible, but don’t get me started, I already had that discussion with MajorSamFan. It’s totally possible.