Lee Majors is an American actor with a career that has spanned several decades, making him a well-known figure in Hollywood. Born on April 23, 1939, as Harvey Lee Yeary, he was adopted by relatives following the death of his parents. Majors found success in the entertainment industry through a mix of resilience and talent, which has earned him widespread recognition.
Best known for his roles in iconic television series like “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Fall Guy,” Majors has become synonymous with the action genre of the 1970s and 1980s. His career began with small roles in movies and television, but his breakout role came as Heath Barkley in “The Big Valley,” which established him as a household name.
Beyond his professional life, Majors’s personal life includes several marriages, the most notable being his union with fellow actor Farrah Fawcett. Despite personal and professional ups and downs, Majors’s legacy in the industry is characterized by his enduring presence and contribution to the landscape of American television.
Early Life and Education
Lee Majors’ formative years were marked by personal tragedy and a natural talent in athletics which guided his educational journey through high school and college.
Childhood in Michigan
Born on April 23, 1939, in Wyandotte, Michigan, Lee Majors was originally named Harvey Lee Yeary. He faced early hardship when his parents passed away during his infancy – his father in a work accident and his mother in a car accident.
High School Athletics
In Middlesboro, Kentucky, Majors attended Middlesboro High School, where he showcased his athletic prowess. He participated actively in track and football, earning a strong reputation that led to academic opportunities post-graduation.
Majors’ athletic talent secured him a scholarship to Indiana University. He continued to compete in sports but later transferred to Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, completing his higher education and furthering his athletic career.
Rise to Fame
Lee Majors’ journey to fame began with a series of acting roles that paved the way for his iconic status. His breakout role in the television Western “The Big Valley” was a significant turning point that solidified his career in the entertainment industry.
Early Acting Roles
Majors’ career in front of the camera started with small roles in television series and films. He demonstrated versatility and a burgeoning talent that caught the attention of casting directors and producers. His early work laid a strong foundation for his subsequent success in Hollywood.
The Big Valley Breakthrough
“The Big Valley”, where Majors portrayed the character Heath Barkley, emerged as the catalyst for his rise to mainstream popularity. Barbara Stanwyck, who played the matriarch of the Barkley family, was instrumental in the show’s success and helped spotlight Majors’ potential as a leading actor. The show, set in the 1800s, became a beloved Western series, and Majors’ character became a household name. Following this significant role, Majors went on to further fame as Steve Austin in the critically acclaimed series “The Six Million Dollar Man”, which became a staple of 1970s television and cemented his status as a pop culture icon.
Lee Majors firmly established his mark in the TV industry through his lead roles in two appealing action series. He first became widely known for his portrayal of a cyborg in “The Six Million Dollar Man” and later as a Hollywood stuntman in “The Fall Guy”.
The Six Million Dollar Man
In 1973, Lee Majors took on the role of Colonel Steve Austin in the science fiction television series “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Majors played a former astronaut whose body is rebuilt with bionic implants after a severe accident. His portrayal of the bionic man, a cyborg capable of superhuman feats, turned the show into a significant part of ’70s popular culture and established him as a household name.
- Role: Colonel Steve Austin
- Series Duration: 1973 – 1978
- Character: A cyborg with enhanced abilities following an accident
The Fall Guy
Later, in 1981, Lee Majors continued his TV prominence by starring in “The Fall Guy” as the character Colt Seavers. Seavers was a Hollywood stuntman who moonlighted as a bounty hunter. This series combined action and adventure, showcasing Majors’ physical prowess and solidifying his status as an action series star.
- Role: Colt Seavers
- Series Duration: 1981 – 1986
- Character Traits: Skilled stuntman and part-time bounty hunter
Lee Majors’ personal life has garnered attention due to his prominent relationships and his role as a father. His family life and multiple marriages have been a subject of interest for both fans and the media.
Relationships and Marriages
Majors has been married four times. He first married Kathy Robinson and their union resulted in the birth of his first child, Lee Majors Jr. His most high-profile marriage was to actress Farrah Fawcett; the couple did not have any children together and eventually divorced. Majors then married Karen Velez, with whom he has three children. His current marriage is to Faith Cross, an actress and model whom he wed on November 9, 2002, after seven years of dating. She changed her name to Faith Majors.
Family and Children
Majors is a father of four children. His family includes his son from his first marriage, Lee Majors Jr., followed by three more children with his third wife, Karen Velez. His marriages and family life have been part of his identity off-screen, complementing his extensive career in the entertainment industry.
Lee Majors has made significant contributions to cinema primarily as an actor, with a career including notable films and some work behind the scenes in producing and directing roles.
- Strait-Jacket (1964): Lee Majors had an uncredited role in this thriller that starred Joan Crawford
- Will Penny (1967): In this western film, he acted alongside Charlton Heston
- The Norseman (1978): Majors played the lead role in this action-adventure film set during the Viking Age
- Killer Fish (1979): He starred in this Italian-French-Brazilian horror thriller film
Producing and Directing
- Producer: Lee Majors took on the role of producer for several episodes of The Fall Guy, broadening his impact in the television industry
- Directing: His experience in the entertainment industry also includes some directing work, although it’s less prominent in his career compared to his roles in front of the camera
Lee Majors is known for his extensive television career, which spans across guest spots and recurring roles in a variety of genres. This section focuses on his contributions to television, from one-off appearances in iconic series to significant continuous parts in popular shows.
Majors has made numerous guest appearances on well-known television series. Here is a selection from his extensive list:
- “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour”: Majors appeared in episodic roles in this classic anthology series
- “Charlie’s Angels”: He guest-starred in this iconic 1970s crime drama series
- “Cold Case”: In 2009, Majors was featured in an episode of this procedural crime series
- “Will & Grace”: He made a guest appearance in an episode of this popular sitcom
- “Two and a Half Men”: Majors’s comedic side was showcased in an appearance on this hit comedy series
Majors had several recurring roles that solidified his status as a television star. His recurring appearances include:
- “Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law”: He played a supporting role in this legal drama series
- “The Virginian”: Majors was part of the cast in two iterations of this Western series, in 2018 he appeared in “The Virginian” and “The Virginian: The Men From Shiloh”
- “Raven”: He appeared in this action-packed series
- “Walker, Texas Ranger”: Majors had a recurring role on this action crime television series
- “According to Jim”: In the 2010 sitcom, he took on a recurring comedic role
- “Human Target”: In 2011, Majors appeared in this action-drama series
Throughout his career, Lee Majors has showcased his versatility as an actor with a spectrum of television appearances ranging from serious dramatic roles to lighter comedic performances. His enduring presence on television has made significant contributions to the medium.
Later Career and Legacy
After rising to fame in the 1970s, Lee Majors continued to amass a significant body of work in the entertainment industry, navigating the changing tides of Hollywood and leaving an indelible mark on both TV and film.
Following his iconic roles in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Big Valley, Majors did not slow down. In the 1980s, he starred in the television series The Fall Guy, portraying a Hollywood stunt man, which showcased not only his acting abilities but also his knowledge of the industry’s stunt work. The show was an action-adventure series that cleverly capitalized on Majors’ established persona and the audiences’ growing fascination with Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes. His career extended well beyond this period, with appearances in shows like Dallas and The Bionic Woman, ensuring he remained a familiar face on television.
In film, Majors explored various genres. He was part of the ensemble cast in The Liberation Of L.B. Jones, a film that contributed to the discourse on 1970s culture and civil rights. Ages after, he continued to demonstrate his versatility with a role in the 2002 comedy Big Fat Liar, appealing to a new generation of audiences.
Majors’ impact on popular culture is undeniable. His portrayal of bionic hero Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man not only earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination but also influenced the era’s sci-fi creations, resonating in the same cultural space as blockbusters like Star Wars. The show captured the imagination of viewers and was a part of 1970s culture reflecting a fascination with technology and enhancement.
TV Guide has recognized the show’s influence, including it in their lists of greatest television shows. Moreover, the character of Steve Austin, played by Majors, became so popular that the series spawned a spin-off, The Bionic Woman, featuring a female counterpart with similar abilities. The legacy of these characters and the thematic exploration of humans enhanced by technology can be seen in later media works. The concept of Bigfoot, introduced in The Six Million Dollar Man, remains a staple in North American folklore and has been a recurring theme in various forms of entertainment.
Majors’ career and the characters he brought to life have become a part of Hollywood’s legacy, influencing both the industry and its audiences for generations.
Lee Majors has diversified interests extending beyond his contributions to the acting industry. His penchant for sports and commitment to charitable work underscores a multifaceted personality.
Majors’ long-standing connection with sports began early, notably through his involvement in track and football during his high school years. He carried this passion into college, first at Indiana University and then at Eastern Kentucky University. His athletic prowess earned him a scholarship, highlighting his skill as a promising football player. Some of Majors’ college sports endeavors were reflective of the vigor he later brought to his acting roles.
Although there’s no direct affiliation cited with professional teams like the St. Louis Cardinals, Majors’ love for sports has been a constant throughout his life, influencing his roles and public persona.
A heart for giving back, Majors’ philanthropic efforts reflect his awareness of his platform’s potential for positive impact. Information specific to his philanthropic pursuits isn’t detailed in the provided search results, nonetheless, it’s not uncommon for individuals of his fame to engage in charitable activities. This may involve support for causes related to the wellbeing of children, health initiatives, or assistance for aspiring athletes, resonating with his background in both sports and entertainment.
The work Majors does off-screen and outside of the sports realm, aids in cementing his legacy not only as a cultural icon but as a figure committed to making a difference in people’s lives.
Influence on Pop Culture
The influence of Lee Majors on pop culture is substantial; his characters have become emblematic of certain tropes within the action genre.
- The Six Million Dollar Man: It became synonymous with superhuman abilities and the concept of bionics, which permeated various forms of media from literature to video games
- Impact: This character alone sparked a range of merchandise and even a term ‘bionic’ used in everyday language to describe something with superior strength or ability
- The Fall Guy: Majors’ role as a stuntman helped to bring the behind-the-scenes world of Hollywood stunt work into the limelight
- Admiration: His portrayal of stuntman Colt Seavers showcased a tough, capable hero, which resonated with audiences and inspired an appreciation of the stunt profession
Throughout his career, Majors’ impact has been reinforced by his adaptability to various roles while maintaining a consistent image of resilience and strength. His work continues to be recognized by fans and colleagues, maintaining a legacy that crosses generations.