If there was one television show from the 1970s that sucked kids into its fantasy world through a portal of toys, it was The Six Million Dollar Man.
But, while Steve Austin and his various baubles rightly garnered the lion’s share of the long-ago playtime, I’m here to tell you that the Oscar Goldman doll is a treasure trove of make-believe just waiting to be rediscovered.
If you never spent anytime with Austin’s boss, or if you’ve forgotten how splendid Oscar’s world was, let me regale you with three reasons he’s better — in doll form, especially — than you remember.
The Stylin’ 70s Duds
Oscar Goldman was born in October of 1973 in the ABC TV movie called Wine, Women & War.
He replaced the hardass Oliver Spencer (played by Darren McGavin) and was brought to life by actor Richard Anderson.
Oscar was a former airborne officer who rose up the ranks to land as the deputy director of the (supposedly) fictional Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI). Oh, and he was also responsible for making Steve Austin “bionic.”
And, later, for making Jaime Sommers into The Bionic Woman.
And … he was both of their bosses at OSI.
Because he played such a pivotal role in the ethos of the Bionic Universe, Oscar Goldman became absolutely indispensable. So much so, that he was a main character on both The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman — at the same time — even when the latter jumped ship to NBC.
All of which is to say that Oscar was a mainstay of 1970s television, and you couldn’t be a mainstay of 1970s television if you didn’t look the part.
Oscar did, complete with all the colorful sartorial splendor you’d expect from the decade — wide, striped ties against other-way-striped shirts; big ol’ glasses with tinted lenses; perfect hair; fit body; golden tan, plaid jackets.
Especially plaid jackets.
Those stellar fashion sensibilities carried over to the Oscar Goldman doll when the OSI boss made the celluloid leap.
Oscar is astutely attired in brown bell(ish) bottoms, brown loafers, a teal turtleneck, all wrapped up in a two-button, wide-necked plaid jacket.
If you ever wondered what the playboys of the 1970s looked like, search no further.
That Exploding Briefcase
Sure, The Six Million Dollar Man has his engine block, or his I-beam, depending on the year he was made, but for sheer toy accessory intrigue, Steve Austin can’t touch Oscar Goldman.
Why is that?
It’s the briefcase, Mars.
Oscar is an important bureaucrat, so he has to carry his briefcase around with him — you know, to look important.
Except, Oscar really is important, so his attache contains cool crap like a headset, a tape recorder, a safe, at least one Top Secret file.
It’s like a rectangular, well-organized Captain Caveman coat.
And if you don’t open it just right — BAM! — it explodes in your face and destroys everything within.
You know, in case the thing falls into the wrong hands.
Yeah, Oscar is a big shot, and his brief is a worthy prop.
Sure, Steve Austin had all sorts of accessories that you could buy, including that kick-ass Transport and Repair Station … and you had to have them.
But, like the briefcase v. engine block discussion above, The Bionic Man couldn’t carry Oscar’s jock when it came to mystery.
You just never knew what Oscar had up his sleeve, other than it wasn’t a bionic arm (except when it was an entire cyborg body — then it was a bionic arm).
And an international man of mystery needs a place to scratch in private, to hatch his plans, to orchestrate his secret maneuvers.
For Oscar Goldman, that place was the O.S.I. Headquarters.
Not every kid had this baby, or even wanted it … too many were blinded by the Austin’s celebrity (or deafened when he serenaded Jaime) to put this much effort into “nerdy” Oscar.
But these kids missed out. Big time.
Because the O.S.I. Headquarters was where the magic happened.
The only hard part was deciding what to do next. I mean, should you …
- Make a phone call?
- Light up the secret compartment in your desk?
- Blow some crap up … or spy on something … from your in-wall monitor?
- Hide something in your wall safe — and make it buzz?
- Do something else really sneaky in that hidden desk compartment?
Whichever way you went, hours of fun and smug little smirks were bound to ensue. You had a secret, after all.