Lee Majors (born Harvey Lee Yeary; April 23, 1939) is an American actor. Majors portrayed the characters of Heath Barkley in the American television Western series The Big Valley (1965–1969), Colonel Steve Austin in the American television science fiction action series The Six Million Dollar Man (1973–1978), and Colt Seavers in American television action series The Fall Guy (1981–1986).

Lee Majors
Lee Majors 1973.JPG
Majors in 1973
Born
Harvey Lee Yeary

(1939-04-23) April 23, 1939 (age 83)
Alma materEastern Kentucky University
OccupationActor
Years active1964–present
Spouse(s)
  • Kathy Robinson
    (m. 1961; div. 1964)
  • (m. 1973; div. 1982)
  • (m. 1988; div. 1994)
  • Faith Noelle Cross
    (m. 2002)
Children4

Early lifeEdit

Majors was born in Wyandotte, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. His parents, Carl and Alice Yeary, were both killed in separate accidents. (His father died in a work accident six months prior to his birth, and his mother was killed in a car accident when he was almost eighteen months old.) At the age of two, Majors was adopted by his uncle and aunt, Harvey and Mildred Yeary, and he moved with them to Middlesboro, Kentucky.[1]

He participated in track and football at Middlesboro High School. He graduated in 1957, and earned a scholarship to Indiana University, where he again competed in sports. Majors transferred to Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, in 1959.[1] He played in his first football game the following year, but suffered a severe back injury which left him paralyzed for two weeks and ruined his college athletic career. Following his injury, he turned his attention to acting and performed in plays at the Pioneer Playhouse in Danville, Kentucky. Majors graduated from Eastern Kentucky in 1962 with a degree in history and physical education.[2] He planned to be a football coach.[3]

After college, he received an offer to try out for the St. Louis Cardinals football team. Instead, he moved to Los Angeles and found work at the Los Angeles Park and Recreation Department as the recreation director for North Hollywood Park. In Los Angeles, Majors met many actors and industry professionals, including Dick Clayton, who had been James Dean's agent, and Clayton suggested he attend his acting school. After one year of acting school, Clayton felt that Majors was ready to start his career. At this time, he picked up the stage name Lee Majors as a tribute to childhood hero Johnny Majors who was a player and future coach for the University of Tennessee. Majors also studied at Estelle Harman's acting school at MGM.[2]

CareerEdit

Early rolesEdit

At age 25, Majors landed his first, although uncredited, role in Strait-Jacket (1964), as Joan Crawford's cheating husband. After appearing in a 1965 episode of Gunsmoke, he starred later that year as Howard White in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, "The Monkey's Paw – A Retelling", based on the short story by W. W. Jacobs.

Majors got his big break when he was chosen out of over 400 young actors, including Burt Reynolds, for the co-starring role of Heath Barkley in a new ABC western series, The Big Valley, which starred Barbara Stanwyck. Also starring on the show was another newcomer, Linda Evans, who played Heath's younger sister, Audra. Richard Long and Peter Breck played his brothers Jarrod and Nick, respectively. One of Heath's frequently used expressions during the series was "Boy howdy!" Big Valley was an immediate hit. During the series, Majors co-starred in the 1968 Charlton Heston film Will Penny, for which he received an "Introducing" credit, and landed the lead role in The Ballad of Andy Crocker (1969), a made-for-television film which was first broadcast by ABC. The film was one of the first films to deal with the subject matter of Vietnam veterans "coming home". That same year, he was offered the chance to star in Midnight Cowboy (1969), but The Big Valley was renewed for another season and he was forced to decline the role (which later went to Jon Voight). When The Big Valley was cancelled in 1969, he signed a long-term contract with Universal Studios. In 1970, Majors appeared in William Wyler's final movie The Liberation of L.B. Jones, and joined the cast of The Virginian for its final season when the show was restructured as "The Men From Shiloh" featuring four alternating leads. Majors played new ranch hand Roy Tate.

Majors was called a "blond Elvis Presley" because of his resemblance to Elvis during this period of his career.[4]

1970s: The Six Million Dollar ManEdit

In 1971, he landed the role of Arthur Hill's partner, Jess Brandon, on Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, which garnered critical acclaim during its three seasons on ABC.

Majors's co-starring role on Owen Marshall led him to a starring role as United States Air Force Colonel Steve Austin, an ex-astronaut with bionic implants in The Six Million Dollar Man, a 1973 television movie broadcast on ABC. In 1974, the network decided to turn it into a weekly series. The series became an international success, being screened in over 70 countries, turning Majors into a pop icon. Majors also made his directorial debut in 1975, on an episode called "One of Our Running Backs Is Missing" which co-starred professional football players such as Larry Csonka and Dick Butkus.

In 1977, with The Six Million Dollar Man still a hit series, Majors tried to renegotiate his contract with Universal Television. The studio in turn filed a lawsuit to force him to report to work due to stipulations within his existing contract that had not yet expired. It was rumored that Majors was holding out for more money, but his manager denied this: according to him, Majors was fighting to have his own production company, Fawcett Majors Productions, brought on as an independent producer in association with Universal in order to make the company viable. After Majors did not report to work that June, studio executives ultimately relented.[5] However, ratings began to decline and The Six Million Dollar Man was cancelled in 1978 (as was The Bionic Woman). In November 2010, Time-Life released a 40 DVD set featuring every episode and bonus features from the show.[6][7]

He also appeared in several films during the 1970s. The TV movie Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident (1976, as Francis Gary Powers), the Viking film The Norseman (1978) co-starring Cornel Wilde, the horror thriller Killer Fish (1979), the drama Steel (1979), which he produced, co-starring Jennifer O'Neill and Art Carney, and the political thriller Agency (1980), starring Robert Mitchum.

1980s: The Fall GuyEdit

In 1981, Majors returned in another long-running television series. Producer Glen A. Larson (who had first worked with Majors on Alias Smith and Jones, where Majors guest starred in one episode, and later on The Six Million Dollar Man) asked him to star in the pilot of The Fall Guy. Majors played Colt Seavers, a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a bounty hunter. Majors was also a producer and a director on the show, and even sang its theme song, the self-effacing "Unknown Stuntman." Majors would invite several longtime friends, Linda Evans, Peter Breck, Lindsay Wagner and Richard Anderson, to guest-star in various episodes. The series ran for five seasons until it was cancelled in 1986.

His 1980s films include the made-for-TV sequel High Noon, Part II: The Return of Will Kane (1980), playing Gary Cooper's original role, the science fiction film The Last Chase (1981), and the disaster movie Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land (1983). Between 1987 and 1994, Majors and Lindsay Wagner reunited in three The Six Million Dollar Man/The Bionic Woman TV movies. Majors also made cameo appearances in Circle of Two (1980) and as himself in the 1988 holiday comedy Scrooged.

1990s–presentEdit

 
Majors at the Florida Supercon in 2017

In 1990, he starred in the film Keaton's Cop, and had recurring roles in Tour of Duty and the short-lived 1992 series, Raven. He also had supporting roles in the films Trojan War (1997), Out Cold (2001), Big Fat Liar (2002), and The Brothers Solomon (2007). He voiced the character of "Big" Mitch Baker in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. He played Jaret Reddick's disconnected father in Bowling For Soup's 2007 video, "When We Die". That same year, he played Grandpa Max in Ben 10: Race Against Time, and voiced a character on the APTN animated children's program Wapos Bay: The Series that was named "Steve from Austin". He also played a minor role in Stephen King's The Mist.[citation needed]

Majors played Coach Ross on the CW Network television series The Game, which ran from October 1, 2006, to May 20, 2009.[8]

Majors appeared in the role of God in "Jim Almighty" a 2007 episode of According to Jim. He later returned to the role in that show's 2009 series finale, "Heaven Opposed to Hell". Also in 2008, Majors played a member of the Minutemen (dedicated to preventing illegal border crossings) in season four of the Showtime series Weeds, where he recruits Kevin Nealon's character. Majors reprised his role (voice only) as Col. Steve Austin in the "Bionic Woman" segment of the Robot Chicken season four episode "Love, Maurice" (2009).

In March 2010, Majors played the crusty sailing instructor in the Community episode "Beginner Pottery". In April 2010, he appeared as the mentor of the series lead in "Christopher Chance", the 12th episode of Human Target. Later that year, he provided the voice of General Abernathy in G.I. Joe: Renegades. He later reprised the role in a 2011 episode. In 2011, he appeared as "Rockwell" in Jerusalem Countdown. From 2011 to 2014 he appeared in three episodes of the Fox comedy Raising Hope, as Burt's father, Ralph.[9] On February 1, 2013, it was announced that Majors would appear in a two-episode guest spot in season two of TNT's Dallas as Ken Richards, an old flame of Sue Ellen's.[10] In 2015, he appeared as J.D. in the faith-based drama Do You Believe? and the hip-hop dance-themed series Avengers of eXtreme Illusions. Majors appeared in the second and third seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead as Brock Williams, the father of Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell). In late 2018, Majors voiced an animated Six Million Dollar Man action figure in an advertisement for Honda's "Happy Honda Days" sale event.[11] In 2019, Majors voiced Jeff Tracy in Thunderbirds Are Go.

Personal lifeEdit

MarriagesEdit

  • Kathy Robinson (married 1961, divorced 1964) – One child together, Lee Majors Jr. (born April 8, 1962), who later became an actor and appeared alongside his father in the three Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman reunion telefilms, credited as Lee Majors II.
  • Farrah Fawcett (married July 28, 1973, separated 1979, divorced February 16, 1982) – During the first six years of their marriage, she went by the name of Farrah Fawcett-Majors.[12] Fawcett died on June 25, 2009.[13] Majors' one-hit-wonder, Unknown Stuntman makes reference to her.
  • Karen Velez (married 1988, divorced 1994) – Playboy Playmate; one daughter, Nikki Loren, and twin sons, Dane Luke and Trey Kulley.[14]
  • Faith Cross (married on November 1, 2002) – actress and model.[12]

HealthEdit

In 2003, Majors had heart bypass surgery.[15]

Los Angeles ExpressEdit

In April 1983, Majors became part owner of the LA Express of the United States Football League.[16]

Popular cultureEdit

The song "Midnight Train to Georgia" was inspired by Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett.[17] Songwriter Jim Weatherly phoned his friend Majors one day, and the call was answered by Fawcett. Weatherly and Fawcett chatted briefly and she told him she was going to visit her mother and was taking "the midnight plane to Houston." Although Majors and Fawcett were both successful by that time, Weatherly used them as "characters" in his song about a failed actress who leaves Los Angeles, and is followed by her boyfriend who cannot live without her.[18] Eventually the genders were swapped, the plane became a train, and Houston was changed to Georgia. The recording by Gladys Knight & The Pips went to Number One in 1973.[19]

In the 1994 Simpsons episode "Burns' Heir", Marge Simpson fantasizes about running off with Majors.

The title of the Beastie Boys song "Lee Majors Come Again" is a reference to Majors.[20]

In his 2017 stand-up comedy special for Netflix, Hitler's Dog, Gossip & Trickery, Norm Macdonald does a "bit" which posits Lee Majors getting a call from his agent about an offer to do a commercial about a hearing aid called "The Bionic Ear."

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1964 Strait-Jacket Frank Harbin Uncredited
1967 Clambake Man in Restaurant Uncredited
1968 Will Penny Blue
1969 The Ballad of Andy Crocker Andy Crocker
1970 The Liberation of L.B. Jones Steve Mundine
1970 Weekend of Terror Larry
1976 The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident Francis Gary Powers
1977 Just a Little Inconvenience Frank Logan
1978 The Norseman Thorvald
1979 Killer Fish Lasky
1979 Steel Mike Catton
1980 Agency Philip Morgan
1980 High Noon, Part II: The Return of Will Kane Will Kane
1981 Circle of Two Theatre Patron Cameo
1981 The Last Chase Franklyn Hart
1983 Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land Captain Cody Briggs
1988 Scrooged Lee Majors
1990 Keaton's Cop Mike Gable
1991 Fire: Trapped on the 37th Floor Deputy Chief Sterling
1992 Raven: Return of the Black Dragons Herman 'Ski' Jablonski
1994 Bionic Ever After? Colonel Steve Austin
1997 Trojan War Officer Austin
1998 The Protector Austin
1998 Musketeers Forever Ben O'Connor
2000 Primary Suspect Lieutenant Blake
2001 Out Cold John Majors
2002 Big Fat Liar Vince
2003 Fate Oscar Ogden
2004 Arizona Summer Mr. Travers
2005 The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams Dr. Jack Lee Deleted scenes
2005 Hell to Pay Marshal Boone
2006 When I Find the Ocean Thomas
2006 Lightspeed Tanner
2006 Waitin' to Live Bucko Cassidy
2006 National Lampoon's TV: The Movie Dr. Lakin
2007 The Brothers Solomon Ed Solomon
2007 Ben 10: Race Against Time Max Tennyson
2009 The Adventures of Umbweki Police Captain Richard
2010 Johnny Dr. Miller
2010 Corruption.Gov Jim Lawrence
2011 Jerusalem Countdown Rockwell
2013 Matt's Chance The Figure
2014 The Legend of Darkhorse County Sheriff McElroy
2015 Do You Believe? J.D.
2015 Toxin: 700 Days Left on Earth President Austin
2016 Almosting It Chet
2016 Wild Bill Hickok: Swift Justice Grandpa Hickok
2016 Jean Spiritual Stone
2017 Victory by Submission Sam Jordan
2021 Narco Sub Dallas Chapman
2022 Renegades Carver Post-Production

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1965 Gunsmoke Dave Lukens Episode: "Song for Dying"
1965–1969 The Big Valley Heath Barkley 112 episodes
1965 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Howard White Episode: "The Monkey's Paw–A Retelling"
1970 Bracken's World Frank Carver Episode: "Super-Star"
1970–1971 The Virginian Roy Tate 24 episodes
1971 Marcus Welby, M.D. Jess Brandon Episode: "Men Who Care"
1971–1974 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Jess Brandon 53 episodes
1972 Alias Smith and Jones Joe Briggs Episode: "The McCreedy Bust: Going, Going, Gone"
1972 The Sixth Sense Clayton Ross Episode: "With This Ring, I Thee Kill!"
1973–1978 The Six Million Dollar Man Colonel Steve Austin 99 episodes
TV Land Award for Superest Super Hero (2003)
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (1976)
1974 ABC Funshine Saturday Sneak Peek Lee Majors / Steve Austin Television movie
1976 The Bionic Woman Colonel Steve Austin 6 episodes
1981–1986 The Fall Guy Colt Seavers Lead role
112 episodes
1983 Trauma Center Colt Seavers Episode: "Notes About Courage"
1983 The Love Boat Robert Richards 2 episodes
1984 The Cowboy and the Ballerina Bob Clayton (aka Clay) Television movie
1986 A Smoky Mountain Christmas Mountain Dan Television movie
1987 The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman Colonel Steve Austin Television movie
1988 Dolly Harold "Chance" Coleman Episode: "#1.14"
1988 Reed Down Under Reed Harris Television movie
1989 Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman Steve Austin Television movie
1989 CBS Summer Playhouse Jesse Pruitt Episode: "Road Show"
1990 Tour of Duty "Pop" Scarlet 5 episodes
1992–1993 Raven Herman "Ski" Jablonski 20 episodes
1993 The Cover Girl Murders Rex Kingman Television movie
1995 Lonesome Dove: The Series Woodrow F. Call Episode: "Ties That Bind"
1995 Achilles Peleus Television movie
1995 The Pinocchio Shop Howard Hughes Episode: "Air Tristan"
1996 Promised Land Jim Walker Episode: "The Secret"
1996 Daytona Beach Owen Travers Television movie
1997 Lost Treasure of Dos Santos Roy Stark Television movie
1998 Walker, Texas Ranger Sheriff Bell Episode: "On the Border"
1999 Soldier of Fortune, Inc. Tom Winters Episode: "Critical List"
2000 Family Guy Lee Majors (voice) Episode: "Running Mates"
2000 V.I.P. Jed Irons Episode: "Ride of the Valkyries"
2000 The War Next Door Kennedy Smith, Sr. Episode: "Father Knows Death"
2000 Too Much Sun Scott Reed 6 episodes
2001 Hotel! President of the U.S.A. Television movie
2001 Hard Knox Darrell Knox Television movie
2002 Son of the Beach Colonel Seymore Kooze 3 episodes
2003 Jake 2.0 Richard Fox Episode: "Double Agent"
2004 The Trail to Hope Rose Marshall Toll Television movie
2005 Will & Grace Burt Wolfe Episode: "It's a Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad World"
2007 The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman Governor of California Episode: "Good Times and Great Oldies"
2007–2009 The Game Coach Ross 6 episodes
2007 Wapos Bay Steve from Ausin (voice) Episode: "Guardians"
2007 Me & Lee? Television movie
2008 Wainy Days David's Dad Episode: "Rebecca"
2008–2009 According to Jim God Episodes: "Jim Almighty" and "Heaven Opposed to Hell"
2008 Weeds Minute-Man Leader 3 episodes
2008 Cold Case Dean London '08 Episode: "Wings"
2009 Robot Chicken Various Voice; Episode: "Love, Maurice"
2010 Community Admiral Lee Slaughter Episode: "Beginner Pottery"
2010 Human Target Christopher Chance Episode: "Christopher Chance"
2010–2011 G.I. Joe: Renegades General Abernathy Voice; 3 episodes
2011 $h*! My Dad Says Don Reger Episode: "Well Suitored"
2011 Grey's Anatomy Chuck Cain Episode: "Poker Face"
2012 Crash & Burn Boss McCoy Television movie
2012 CSI: NY Paul Burton Episode: "Flash Pop"
2013 Dallas Ken Richards 3 episodes
2013–2014 Raising Hope Ralph Episodes: "Burt Mitzvah: The Musical" and "Hot Dish"
2015 The AXI: The Avengers of Extreme Illusions Steve the Mechanic Episode: "The Mechanic"
2016–2018 Ash vs. Evil Dead Brock Williams 8 episodes
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television (2016)
2017 Eat, Play, Love Dr. Isaac Monroe Television movie
2018 Fuller House James Episode: "Angels' Night Out"
2018 Bicycle Jan Television movie
2019 Magnum P.I. Russell Harlan Episode #27: "The Man in the Secret Room"
2019–2020 Thunderbirds Are Go Jeff Tracy (voice) 3 episodes
2021 Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Himself Episode: "Meat and Heat" (guest appearance)
2022 Guy's Grocery Games Himself Episode: "Craziest Day in Flavortown" (special guest appearance)

Video gamesEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Mitch Baker (voice)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Lee Majors Biography". Biography. Archived from the original on April 24, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "The Early Years". Cyborg: Lee Majors Online. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  3. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Lee Majors Discusses Aging in Hollywood | HPL". YouTube.
  4. ^ "Lee Majors Stars in His First Movie". Nashua Telegraph. Associated Press. December 20, 1965. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  5. ^ "Lee Majors will stay with series". The Morning Herald. Hagerstown, Maryland. United Press International. July 8, 1977. p. 21. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  6. ^ "The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection" Archived April 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Time-Life. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  7. ^ Outbreak, Hollywood (June 30, 2021). "The 'Six Million Dollar' Shark Lee Majors Refused To Jump". www.hollywoodoutbreak.com. Hollywood Outbreak. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  8. ^ "Lee Majors Is Game's Six Million Dollar Coach". TV Guide. September 6, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  9. ^ "Raising Hope (TV Series 2010–2014)". IMDb.
  10. ^ "Majors to appear in new Dallas". Updated News. February 4, 2013. Archived from the original on February 3, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  11. ^ Braithwaite-Smith, Gavin (November 16, 2018). "Honda targets millennials with the help of retro toys". Motoring Research. Archived from the original on December 10, 2018. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Perry, Simon (May 8, 2019). "Lee Majors, 80, Reflects on His Famous Marriage to Farrah Fawcett: 'It Was Hard to Get Around'". People. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  13. ^ Kiner, Deb (June 25, 2021). "'I will not go gentle into that good night': The death of Farrah Fawcett in 2009". www.pennlive.com. Penn Live. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  14. ^ "Lee Majors is seeking a divorce". Sun Journal. Lewiston, Maine. Associated Press. September 22, 1994. p. 36. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  15. ^ "Lee Majors – Routine Surgery Saves Bionic Man's Life". Contactmusic.com. January 6, 2003. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  16. ^ "Actor Majors purchases part of USFL Express". Lawrence Journal-World. Associated Press. April 13, 1983. p. 20. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  17. ^ "Ten Questions with Jim Weatherly". Nashville Songwriters Foundation. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  18. ^ Junior, Chris M. (April 14, 2010). "Hop aboard the midnight train to Georgia with Gladys Knight & The Pips". Goldmine.
  19. ^ Mike Rowe (December 15, 2020). Mike Rowe is Nothing but a Sellout (Podcast). The Way I Heard It Episode 132. MRW Holdings. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  20. ^ Pollicino, Raul. "Lee Majors Come Again: Production Credits". Beastiemania. Retrieved December 20, 2020.

External linksEdit