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

Entertainment | September 26, 2018

'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

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.

Heath Barkley On 'The Big Valley'

Back in the day, Lee Majors was a young woman’s heartthrob. He portrayed Heath Barkley on the television Western The Big Valley. Little brother, Heath, was the youngest brother on the show and had all the women swooning. As the storyline went, Heath was the illegitimate son in the family. His father had died, and he had to make his own way into the family. The hit series also starred Barbara Stanwyck, Linda Evans, Richard Long and Peter Breck.  

Steve Austin On 'The Six Million Dollar Man'

Colonel Steve Austin… “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him…. bigger, faster, stronger!”

Majors’ next notable role on a television series was on The Six Million Dollar Man. His character, Steve Austin, an astronaut, had suffered a serious accident in the course of carrying out his duties. He went down in a fiery plane crash which left him with debilitating injuries. In order to save his life and make him whole, he was turned into the bionic man! As the story went, the bionic implants used to put his body back together gave him superhuman strength and abilities which he used to thwart the forces of evil! The show was a huge hit with both men and women.

Colt Seavers On 'The Fall Guy'

The Fall Guy, starring Lee Majors, was another one of his hit series. Majors portrayed Colt Seavers, a Hollywood stuntman by day and a bounty hunter by night. He didn’t possess any superhuman strength this time. Seavers relied solely on his own abilities but always got the job done.

The Blond Elvis

Lee Majors was once referred to as, “the blond Elvis Presley.” From major (no pun intended) acting rolls to high profile marriages, Lee Majors has always been a well recognizable face. He was highly sought in Hollywood at one time and loved every minute of it.  

Tags: Lee Majors | Movies In The 1970s | The 1970s | What Did He Do?...

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.