Lee Majors: The Six Million Dollar Man Who Became The Fall Guy

By | September 26, 2018

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'The Six Million Dollar Man: Wine, Women and War,' from 1973, starring Britt Ekland as Soviet agent Katrina Volana and Lee Majors as Steve Austin. Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

Actor Lee Majors of Six Million Dollar Man fame was TV's first serious live-action superhero. While the TV Batman of the '60s, played by Adam West, was fun, it was also a send-up. Lee Majors' bionically-enhanced character Steve Austin was an earnest hero, completing rescues and fisticuffs without intentionally corny lines or sound-effect graphics. From 1973-78, The Six Million Dollar Man was a favorite show of parents and kids alike, and it launched the spinoff The Bionic Woman. Majors is also known for two other TV series, The Big Valley (1965-69) and The Fall Guy (1981-86). 

Lee Majors' story is somewhat unconventional. He lost both of his parents in separate accidents as an infant. He was subsequently adopted by family members who raised him as their own. Early on, Majors was an athlete and earned an athletic scholarship to attend college. After he suffered an unfortunate sports-related injury, his once-promising athletic career ended. After his injury, a career in football would not be in Lee Majors' future.

Parks And Rec

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Although Majors graduated from college with a degree in Physical Education, he didn’t pursue that particular career. Lee Majors decided to turn his focus to an acting career. After graduating from college, Lee Majors accepted a position with the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Department. During his employment there, he found himself in the presence of many notable personalities and actors.

Lee Majors came into contact with James Dean’s (one time) agent, Dick Clayton, who suggested he attend acting school. Other notable acting industry professionals also encouraged Majors to pursue acting. Until this time, Majors’ name was Harvey Lee Yeary. After he began his acting career, he adopted the stage name Lee Majors.

Lee Majors’ stage name was assumed in honor and acknowledgment of his childhood hero, Johnny Majors, who had played tailback at Tennessee in the 1950s and was a college coach in the '70s.  Although Lee Majors pursued an acting career, he never dismissed his love of football.