September 14, 1981 12:00 PM

As “Animal” on the hit CBS series Lou Grant, Daryl Anderson plays a scruffy news photographer with ’60s political sensibilities. Off-camera, though, Anderson, 30, is a well-groomed amateur photographer with ’60s political sensibilities. He has been active on behalf of Vietnam vets (an Emmy-nominated Lou Grant episode dealt with the issue), the antinuclear movement, gun control and the ACLU. So when Anderson was invited to visit Communist East Germany this summer during his TV hiatus—as part of an 11-member showbiz delegation—Animal pounced. Toting his camera throughout the 12-city tour, Anderson was surprised at the picture that developed. “Politically, I feel as though I’m growing up a little now,” he says. “I was certainly more radical before I left.”

Which isn’t to say that he’s founded a new cadre of the Young Republicans. But Anderson did return from the 17-day tour—other participants ranged from self-made oil millionaire-turned-actor G.D. (Apocalypse Now) Spradlin to once-blacklisted character actor Jeff Corey—with a renewed appreciation for home. “Now that I’ve seen a country where there really is a system,” he says, “I can appreciate that America doesn’t have one—it has a loose structure, and I’m grateful for that. I don’t want anyone else to make decisions for me.”

Anderson did find the East German people and cities far less gloomy than often portrayed, however, and he was surprised at the leeway allowed a Leipzig Saturday Night Live-type troupe which lampooned local breadlines and bureaucrats. “They said two things were forbidden,” Daryl recalls. “Allowing fascist ideology to creep into the material and promoting acts of war. They feel you are entitled to a job, an education, a roof over your head and freedom from hunger: That’s socialism.”

And that, the group decided, was also the crucial difference between two political philosophies. “We thought about unemployment [in America] and asked ourselves, ‘What’s the catch?’ ” Anderson recalls. The answer was the most obvious thing the group saw on the tour. “The catch is a big concrete wall running down the middle of Berlin and barbed wire from the Baltic to Czechoslovakia. In East Germany the middle is very secure for everybody. The lows are cut out, but so are the highs. For our taste, anyway, a lot of the challenge is gone.”

Anderson’s own career is a case in point. “In East Germany, all you have to do to be an actor is audition for and be accepted by one of three acting schools, and you have a job for the rest of your life,” he says. By contrast, Anderson had typically rough years starting out. Raised in Seattle by his secretary mother and stepfather (a Boeing supervisor), Daryl says he “worked three nights a week from midnight until dawn so I could go to school 12 hours a day at the University of Washington. And I wouldn’t change places with those East German kids for all the tea in Red China,” he adds. “I don’t know what the reward can be if you don’t have to work for it. That’s a real old-fashioned view I got from my parents and didn’t appreciate at the time, but there’s something to it.”

Daryl’s own lows (his agent suggested he audition to play a transvestite in a soft-porn film just before Lou Grant) certainly now have given way to comfortable highs. Last year he bought a two-bedroom house in the pricy hills above Studio City. Since his recent bustup with writer Daphne Pollon, 26, Daryl lives alone there in unencumbered ’60s fashion with two cats. A dedicated nonjogger, nontennis player and all around nonfitness buff, he’s had plenty of time to sort out his feelings about his trip—and about applying its lessons to his TV work. “I would never be allowed [to live] in East Germany,” he says. “I have the right to be outspoken here, and I want to use it. My message to Jerry Falwell and Donald Wildmon [of the Moral Majority, et al.] goes back to the American Revolution: Don’t Tread on Me. These people are seeking to limit the number of choices Americans have, and that’s totalitarianism.”

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