Oscar Goldman’s desk?

Friday, January 13th, 2012 Horrorthon Posts

After years of fruitless searching I think I’ve found images of Oscar Goldman’s desk (from The Six Million Dollar Man). When I was a kid, I considered this to be the El Dorado of desks. The only better desk was maybe Commander John Koenig’s desk from Space: 1999, but that was impossible to reproduce since it incorporated an advanced computer terminal, and only NASA personnel would have an actual computer (with a screen and a keyboard!) at their desks, and anyway Koenig’s desk took up way too much room and would have dominated my bedroom in an awkward way. But Oscar Goldman’s desk was perfect and I lusted after it. (Goldman’s office—at the headquarters of the OSI—also had a recessed phone screen hidden behind a map of the world over the couch, and, out the window, a panoramic view of the Capitol dome from an impossible vantage point near the middle of the Mall, because, damn it, this is Washington—it’s all very serious).

Unfortunately images of Oscar Goldman’s office are impossible to come by, largely because the series is tied up in litigation and unavailable on home video. But I think I’ve found the desk! The above images are from the 1978 Columbo episode “Make Me a Perfect Murder.” In the story, this is supposed to be the new office of a television executive (George C. Scott’s wife Trish Van Devere, visible in the pictures). The desk even prompts dialogue: Columbo says, “That’s a very impressive desk, Ma’am. You could run the world from a desk like that.”

Why am I sure this is Oscar Goldman’s desk? Because Columbo and The Six Million Dollar Man were contemporaneous Universal Television productions, which means that the prop could have easily been brought from one set at Universal City Studios to another.

Just look at all that crucial equipment you’ve got lined up in front of you! There’s (as far as I can tell) a cassette tape recorder, an intercom, something else, a phone (with six lines), a calculator (not just “four functions” either; it looks like it’s got memory keys and maybe one or two stat functions), a Dictaphone, and a multiband AM/FM radio. (I can’t identify the leftmost device; the chrome square in the bottom left corner might be a two-axis stick controller like you’d see on a radio-controlled plane’s remote control, but beyond that I’m stumped. Any guesses on this or the mysterious central machine are welcome.) It’s a great setup, and, if she wants to watch television, it’s right there in front of her (Oscar Goldman probably didn’t have time for such trivialities). I can’t tell you how much I wanted this desk when I was a kid. I acknowledged that I would have to put my typewriter somewhere else, but it would have been totally worth it.

ADDENDUM: Kenner Toys did release a playset of “OSI Headquarters” (intended to be used with their “Oscar Goldman” action figure), but, as you can see, it’s not the same:

ADDENDUM II: You’ll note, however, that even the playset version has a slightly less impossible view of the Capitol Building as the TV show, since it’s showing the East façade, which puts the “OSI” in either the Supreme Court building (no) or in the Senate Office Building (no). But at least he’s not sitting at his desk on an enclosed pedestal in the middle of the grassy mall.