Harvey Lee Yeary
April 23, 1939
Wyandotte, Michigan, U.S.
|Alma mater||Eastern Kentucky University|
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).
Majors was born in Wyandotte, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. His parents, Carl and Alice Yeary, were both killed in separate accidents (his father in a work accident 5 months prior to his birth and his mother in a car accident when he was almost 17 months old). At age two, Majors was adopted by his uncle and aunt, Harvey and Mildred Yeary and moved with them to Middlesboro, Kentucky.
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. He played in his first football game the following year but suffered a severe back injury which left him paralyzed for two weeks and ended 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. He planned to be a football coach.
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.
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.
1970s: The Six Million Dollar Man
Majors's co-starring role on Owen Marshall led him to a starring role as USAF 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. 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.
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 Guy
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.
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.
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. 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. 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. In 2019, Majors voiced Jeff Tracy in Thunderbirds Are Go.
- 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. Fawcett died on June 25, 2009.
- Karen Velez (married 1988, divorced 1994) – Playboy Playmate; one daughter, Nikki Loren, and twin sons, Dane Luke and Trey Kulley.
- Faith Cross (married on November 1, 2002) – actress and model.
Los Angeles Express
The song "Midnight Train to Georgia" was inspired by Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett. 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. 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.
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."
|1967||Clambake||Man in Restaurant||Uncredited|
|1970||The Liberation of L.B. Jones||Steve Mundine|
|1980||Circle of Two||Theatre Patron||Uncredited|
Alternative title: Obsession
|1981||The Last Chase||Franklyn Hart|
|1990||Keaton's Cop||Mike Gable|
|1997||Trojan War||Officer Austin|
|1998||Musketeers Forever||Ben O'Connor|
|2000||Primary Suspect||Lieutenant Blake|
|2001||Out Cold||John Majors|
|2002||Big Fat Liar||Vince|
|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||Waitin' to Live||Bucko Cassidy|
|2006||National Lampoon's TV: The Movie||Dr. Lakin|
|2007||The Brothers Solomon||Ed Solomon|
|2009||The Adventures of Umbweki||Police Captain Richard|
|2013||Matt's Chance||The Figure|
|2014||The Legend of DarkHorse County||Future Sheriff McElroy|
|2015||Do You Believe?||J.D.|
|2015||Toxin: 700 Days Left on Earth||President Austin|
|2015||The Mechanic||Steve the Mechanic||Short film|
|2016||Wild Bill Hickock: Swift Justice||Grandpa Hickock|
|2017||Victory by Submission||Sam Jordan|
|2021||Narco Sub||Dallas Chapman|
|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"|
|1969||The Ballad of Andy Crocker||Andy Crocker||Television movie|
|1970||Bracken's World||Frank Carver||Episode: "Super-Star"|
|1970–1971||The Virginian||Roy Tate||24 episodes|
|1970||Weekend of Terror||Larry||Television movie|
|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||Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident||Francis Gary Powers||Television movie|
|1976||The Bionic Woman||Colonel Steve Austin||6 episodes|
|1977||Just a Little Inconvenience||Frank Logan||Television movie|
|1980||High Noon, Part II: The Return of Will Kane||Will Kane||Television movie|
|1981–1986||The Fall Guy||Colt Seavers||Lead role|
|1983||Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land||Captain Cody Briggs||Television movie|
|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|
|1991||Fire: Trapped on the 37th Floor||Deputy Chief Sterling||Television movie|
|1992–1993||Raven||Herman "Ski" Jablonski||20 episodes|
|1993||The Cover Girl Murders||Rex Kingman||Television movie|
|1994||Bionic Ever After?||Steve Austin||Television movie|
|1995||Lonesome Dove: The Series||Woodrow F. Call||Episode: "Ties That Bind"|
|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|
|1997||Raven: Return of the Black Dragons||Herman "Ski" Jablonski||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||Ben 10: Race Against Time||Max Tennyson||Television movie|
|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||Colonel Steve Austin / King Babar / David Faustino's Agent (voices)||Episode: "Love, Maurice"|
|2010||Community||Admiral Lee Slaughter||Episode: "Beginner Pottery"|
|2010–2011||G.I. Joe: Renegades||General Abernathy (voice)||3 episodes|
|2011||Grey's Anatomy||Chuck Cain||Episode: "Poker Face"|
|2011||The Tonight Show with Jay Leno||Himself||Episode: "#20.7"|
|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"|
|2019||Magnum P.I.||Russell Harlan||Episode #27: "The Man in the Secret Room"|
|2019–2020||Thunderbirds Are Go||Jeff Tracy (voice)||3 episodes|
|2020||Celebrity Page||Himself||Episode: "#7.128"|
|2002||Grand Theft Auto: Vice City||Mitch Baker (voice)|
- "Lee Majors Biography". Biography. Archived from the original on April 24, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "The Early Years". Cyborg: Lee Majors Online. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Lee Majors Stars in His First Movie". Nashua Telegraph. Associated Press. December 20, 1965. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
- "Lee Majors will stay with series". The Morning Herald. Hagerstown, Maryland. United Press International. July 8, 1977. p. 21. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- "The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection" Archived April 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Time-Life. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
- Outbreak, Hollywood (June 30, 2021). "The 'Six Million Dollar' Shark Lee Majors Refused To Jump". www.hollywoodoutbreak.com. Hollywood Outbreak. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
- "Lee Majors Is Game's Six Million Dollar Coach". TV Guide. September 6, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
- "Raising Hope (TV Series 2010–2014)". IMDb.
- "Majors to appear in new Dallas". Updated News. February 4, 2013. Archived from the original on February 3, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
- Braithwaite-Smith, Gavin (November 16, 2018). "Honda targets millennials with the help of retro toys". Motoring Research.[dead link]
- 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.
- 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.
- "Lee Majors is seeking a divorce". Sun Journal. Lewiston, Maine. Associated Press. September 22, 1994. p. 36. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
- "Lee Majors – Routine Surgery Saves Bionic Man's Life". Contactmusic.com. January 6, 2003. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
- "Actor Majors purchases part of USFL Express". Lawrence Journal-World. Associated Press. April 13, 1983. p. 20. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
- "Ten Questions with Jim Weatherly". Nashville Songwriters Foundation. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
- Junior, Chris M. (April 14, 2010). "Hop aboard the midnight train to Georgia with Gladys Knight & The Pips". Goldmine.
- 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.
- Pollicino, Raul. "Lee Majors Come Again: Production Credits". Beastiemania. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
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