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Oscar Goldman

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Played by Richard Anderson
OscarGoldman
Oscar Goldman
Job/Title OSI Director
Family Sam Goldman, brother
Jim Goldman, nephew
Appearances
SMDM  all except The Six Million Dollar Man (1973)
BW  all except Claws
The Night Demon
African Connection (voice only)
Motorcycle Boogie
The Antidote (voice only)
Reunion  Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman
Bionic Showdown
Bionic Ever After?

Oscar Goldman is the Director of Operations at the OSI. The character was created by Martin Caidin and introduced in the first Cyborg novel (in which he is described as director of the OSO). When the novel was adapted as the first pilot telefilm the character was replaced by another, Oliver Spencer (see "Deconstructed", below). Goldman made his television debut in the second pilot film, Wine, Women and War and appeared in virtually all episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman that followed, as well as the later reunion movies. Richard Anderson is, to date, the only actor to have ever played the character on screen.

Biography

Childhood

Oscar Goldman was born in Newport, Rhode Island on March 25, 1927. (Bionic Showdown) He had an older brother, Sam, and another brother who later produced a nephew. (Iron Ships and Dead Men; Bionic Showdown) Of the three, he remains the sole surviving sibling. (Bionic Showdown)

Early Career

Oscar got to the OSI through the Navy, where he was involved in underwater demolition during World War II (Sharks (Part II)). He also held the rank of Executive Officer for Intelligence under Admiral Richter. His occasional penchant for decisive and somewhat risky action appear to have been partially honed by his unconventional former commanding officer. (Kill Oscar (Part III)).

Oscar was also a public prosecutor at one time in his early career ("One of Our Running Backs Is Missing").

OSI Career

Oscar was an important figure in the OSI before Steve's bionic replacement surgery. Even though his precise position before the practical phase of the bionics program remains unclear, he was definitely employed by the OSI at the time of Steve's accident. (Wine, Women and War)

It was Oscar who managed to convince Senator Ed Hill to fast track authorization of the six million dollars required for Steve's operation. Deferring to his stated need for complete secrecy, Hill pushed an appropriations bill through the US Senate which allowed for the money without specifying its intended use. (Pilot Error)

Oscar envelope
Envelope containing final orders of Oscar Goldman (Kill Oscar).
FuzzyLogicAdded by FuzzyLogic

Oscar's position as head of the OSI was considered so important that he arranged standing orders to be killed in the event of his capture. This was to prevent him from revealing classified information through modern methods of interrogation. (Kill Oscar)

Still, it remains unclear just how "senior" a member he was in the Executive Branch of the United States Government. This is because the precise nature of the OSI was never fully revealed.

Nevertheless, his seniority can be inferred through his actions. Under direct Presidential orders, he participated in nuclear disarmament talks. (Act of Piracy) He had the power to singlehandedly terminate Department of Defense contracts for new weapons. (Canyon of Death) He chaired a task force to recover stolen tactical nuclear weapons. (Nuclear Alert) He had the ability to intervene in criminal investigations, both domestically and abroad. (Steve Austin, Fugitive; Outrage in Balinderry) Most notably, he was able to get General Fuller to swiftly authorize Jaime Sommers' bionic replacement surgery. (The Bionic Woman (episode)

Perhaps the biggest clue to Oscar's seniority rests with the fact that he directly reported to an un-named cabinet-level Secretary (the episode "Winning Is Everything", however directly identifies this as the Secretary of State). This seems to place him on a par with the Director of the Secret Service or the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Personal life

Befitting his position as the head of a secret organization, relatively few details of Oscar's personal life are known. His circle of friends appears to be small enough that, when he finally took a vacation, he asked Steve Austin to accompany him (rather than someone else) on a trip spurred on by an interest in amateur archeology ("The Peeping Blonde").

It's also apparent that Oscar's success rate in the romance department is low, given his playful expression of jealousy towards Steve's way with women ("Act of Piracy", et al). Nonetheless, at one point he was scheduled to go on a "double date" with Austin ("Return of the Robot Maker").

Oscar is shown living a bicoastal lifestyle, frequently travelling between Washington and California, either on missions, or to visit with Jaime in Ojai and with Steve when he's on that side of the country.

Noteworthy Information

Personal Statistics
Primary Code Name
Mission-Specific Code Names

Relationships

Steve Austin

Perhaps due to the fact that he was never seen to have a wife or children, one of Oscar's most important relationships was his friendship with Steve Austin.

At first, his approach to Steve was similar to Oliver Spencer's — cold and all business. But it would not be long before he formed a close friendship with Steve, often referring to the bionic man as "pal".

While they would often disagree about policy matters, he chose his major disputes with Steve. Only rarely did he pull rank with his subordinate.

He was mildly jealous — but perhaps more precisely, impressed — with Steve's penchant for romantic success. He once remarked of his friend's prowess: "I should hate him, but I don't." (Act of Piracy)

The two were known to socialize together, and occasionally arranged to go on what were effectively double dates. (Return of the Robot Maker)

It was largely because of his friendship with Steve that he went against his better professional judgment, including taking the risk of making Jaime Sommers bionic (The Bionic Woman (Part I)). Though this decision led to one of the more profound rifts between the two men, it ultimately led to Oscar becoming Steve's best man at his wedding to Jaime. (Bionic Ever After?)

Exactly when he first became acquainted with Steve remains unclear. In Wine, Women and War, he communicates with Steve from Mission Control in the moments before the crash — an exchange which does not occur in the pilot film. He is familiar enough with Austin at that point to address him by his first name, but it should be pointed out that he does not identify himself by name in this exchange — just "Mission Control".

Although the comic book spin-offs are not necessarily considered canonical with the televised series, the third issue of the Six Million Dollar Man comic book seems to support this by also indicating that Oscar knew Steve prior to the crash (and, in fact, met a time-traveling version of Steve from the future).

Jaime Sommers

Oscar's relationship with Jaime Sommers went well beyond the normal confines of a formal "chain of command".

Though he initially saw her in coldly analytical terms as an OSI "asset", he would eventually form an almost paternalistic bond with her. Perhaps because of her bionic rejection, he sometimes seemed reluctant to use her in certain missions. (The Bionic Woman (Part II)) Again moving beyond the usual superior-subordinate relationship, Oscar would occasionally be seen kissing Jaime on the cheek and wishing her luck (in "Angel of Mercy" this sparks a disgusted response from a helicopter pilot who witnesses it). He also could be heard on occasion referring to her as "sweetheart" and even the coveted "pal," a term of affection otherwise reserved for Steve.

For her part, Jaime occasionally overruled Oscar's caution, but sometimes demanded that he and the OSI give her space. This tug-of-war between Jaime's rights as an individual and her duties as an OSI agent may have been a large part of the reason she ultimately chose a "middle path" of retiring from active duty as an agent, while continuing to support the bionic program itself through lending her talents to the research of Dr. Rudy Wells. (Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, Bionic Showdown)

At one point, Oscar professes his love for her, adding: "You're the closest thing to family I'll ever have." (On the Run) While the nature of Oscar's feelings for Jamie are unclear. By this remark, it can infeered that Oscar thinks of Jamie as a close friend and indeed a family member because many of his family members may be deceased coupled with the secretive nature of his work not allowing him the chance to form other relationships. By extension, Oscar buys Jamie time to escape from pursuing government agents and tells her to use every trick and technique he has taught her to stay ahead of the tasforce assigned to confine her against her will. 

The idea that he might have had romantic feelings for her has been a subject of fan debate for years. The The Bionic Book by Herbie J. Pilato discusses this issue in some detail.

His secretaries

Oscar had a revolving supply of secretaries, due to his own security arrangements which required their replacement once every 90 days. (Steve Austin, Fugitive) This meant that he was unable to form any particular bond with his secretaries, and may have even had difficulties remembering their names.

However, once Steve Austin effectively gave Peggy Callahan a Level 6 security clearance by revealing his bionics to her, this policy seemed to be adjusted (Steve Austin, Fugitive). While her appearance in "The Winning Smile" is explained by her mentioning a hiatus (during which she changed her hair), implying that while Oscar's secretaries may change every 3 months, Callahan was given a second "tour," by the following year's "Kill Oscar," she appears to have been in continuous service since then, and by "Task Force" that same year she began to take part in missions. In the final year, she became a regular on The Bionic Woman, clearly without restriction.

Callahan appeared as his secretary for much longer than 90 days. Throughout that time, she once complained to Jaime Sommers that he never complimented her work. (Kill Oscar)

Besides Callahan, Oscar's other secretaries included:

Family

Oscar had an older brother, Sam Goldman, who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Iron Ships and Dead Men)

He also has a nephew, Jim Goldman, who eventually became an employee of the OSI. However, this nephew is likely not Sam's son since Sam died in World War II and Jim's parents died five years before the World Unity Games in 1989. The identity of Oscar's other sibling is never revealed. (Bionic Showdown)

Deconstructed

Oliver Spencer: Co-existence?

Although Oscar Goldman appeared in the original Cyborg novel, Oliver Spencer was seen as Steve Austin's immediate supervisor in the original 90-minute pilot. Oscar was used exclusively thereafter and for the remainder of the original bionic mythos.

He and Spencer may have been simultaneously employed by the OSI, with stories after the initial pilot choosing to concentrate on Oscar's activities. This is a possible explanation for Oscar's backstory told in Pilot Error. There, it is revealed that Oscar had to lobby Senator Ed Hill for the six million dollars needed for Steve's operation. Whether or not narratives that explain the apparent retconning are plausible is a choice for the viewer. Neither Spencer's fate, nor Oscar's relationship to him, is ever mentioned in a televised episode.

Trivia

  • Oscar is well-known for removing his glasses for dramatic emphasis while speaking. In fan circles, this is referred to as "The Move." It dates all the way back to Oscar's first appearance, in Wine, Women and War, when he tells Steve that Tamara is dead. In an interview included on the 2010 DVD release of the first season of The Bionic Woman, Richard Anderson says "The Move" was often used as a way for him to stall for time while he remembered his next line of dialogue.
  • In Winning Is Everything, Oscar takes on the alias of Bartholomew due to his concern that the Jewish-related surname Goldman would not be accepted in the middle eastern country of Taftan. Jaime and Oscar share an "Oy" in the same conversation. The episode contains the only known references to ethnicity and religion with regards to Goldman, however it's never been conclusively established whether Oscar Goldman actually is Jewish.

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