Fall guy’s still stand­ing

Lee Ma­jors is 69, but def­i­nitely not over the hill, writes Colin Vick­ery

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

DON’T call Lee Ma­jors old. Sure, he’s 69, a grand­fa­ther, has a TV ca­reer span­ning more than 40 years, and has sur­vived heart by­pass surgery, but right now he’s hap­pily mar­ried to a woman 35 years his ju­nior, is busy trav­el­ling the globe and is set to re­ceive a spe­cial Emmy Award.

Ma­jors is in Mel­bourne to pro­mote kids’ tele­movie Ben 10: Race Against Time and has just cel­e­brated the 34th birth­day of his wife, Faith Noelle Ma­jors.

The pair started dat­ing 14 years ago and were mar­ried in Novem­ber 2002 in the Ital­ian re­sort city of Posi­tano.

It was Ma­jors’ fourth mar­riage. For­mer spouses were Kathy Robin­son (1961-64), the fa­mous pair­ing with Char­lie’s Angels star Far­rah Fawcett (1973-1982) and Play­boy bunny Karen Velez (1988-1994).

The Six Mil­lion Dol­lar Man star clearly likes mar­riage. Six years and still go­ing strong should si­lence any of the doubters who ques­tioned the age dif­fer­ence be­tween he and Faith.

‘‘This one’s the keeper,’’ he says. ‘‘God sent me an an­gel. I’m very for­tu­nate. She’s kept me young.’’

Ma­jors plays down his 2003 heart scare, which re­quired by­pass surgery.

‘‘I had a 70 per cent block­age, which to­day is pretty nor­mal. Now I’m in great shape. I’m back to the same weight I was in The Fall Guy and I’m still ac­tive and do­ing great.’’

Ma­jors has starred in some of US tele­vi­sion’s most suc­cess­ful early se­ries in­clud­ing The Big Val­ley (as Heath Barkley) and Owen Mar­shall: Coun­selor at Law (as Jess Bran­don), but it was The Six Mil­lion Dol­lar Man (as Col Steve Austin) and The Fall Guy that brought him in­ter­na­tional su­per­star­dom.

Play­ing Austin in The Six Mil­lion Dol­lar Man made Ma­jors one of the lead­ing pop­cul­ture icons of the 1970s. Thirty years later the show screens around the world to a new gen­er­a­tion of ad­mir­ers.

‘‘It (the pop­u­lar­ity) has re­ally sur­prised me,’’ he says. ‘‘I’ve been do­ing a lot more in­de­pen­dent films over the past 10 years and a lot of the peo­ple who work on them bring in Six Mil­lion Dol­lar Man dolls or lunchboxes that they had when they were kids for me to sign.

‘‘You feel a lit­tle old, but then you re­alise that the show re­ally had an im­pact on a lot of in di­vorce, Ma­jors re­calls their time to­gether with fond­ness.

‘‘We had a lot more fun and it was a lot more peace­ful time back then,’’ he says.

‘‘With the in­ter­net age, it’s ridicu­lous as far as the bad-me­dia press— the pa­parazzi. Half of th­ese kids are on the red car­pet to re­hab be­cause they go out one night and ev­ery­thing they do is on the in­ter­net the next morn­ing. They have no pri­vacy. It’s a tough busi­ness right now.’’

PLAY­ING Grandpa Max in Ben 10: Race Against Time has been a change of pace for Ma­jors. It is his first grand­fa­ther role. ‘‘I en­joy work­ing with kids and I’ve had enough of the hard­ware and ex­plo­sions and stunts,’’ he says. ‘‘On Ben 10 the kids did most of the run­ning and jump­ing and I just had to fol­low them around. They love Grandpa Max. He takes Ben and his cousin Gwen on va­ca­tions in his old mo­bile home, which he calls ‘the rust bucket’ and it’s very funky.

‘‘I have a cou­ple of grand­kids (he has one son, Lee Ma­jors II from his first mar­riage) and they’re at the age where they en­joy this sort of movie. It was fun to do it for them.’’ Ben 10: Race Against Time Car­toon Net­work, Satur­day, 6pm Ad­ven­tures of a young su­per­hero Du­ra­tion: 90 min­utes peo­ple, which was good be­cause it was a good show for kids at the time.’’

Ma­jors is highly crit­i­cal of the cur­rent wave of tele­vi­sion shows, es­pe­cially those aimed at chil­dren and teenagers, and he lays a lot of the blame for the spate of dark, vi­o­lent pro­grams on the rise of video games.

‘‘I grew up with cow­boys and In­di­ans and The Six Mil­lion Dol­lar Man was a clean show. There was a happy end­ing, and there wasn’t a lot of blood shown.

‘‘They tried to do The Bionic Woman re­cently and it failed mis­er­ably be­cause it was too dark. The girl (Michelle Ryan played Jaime Som­mers in the part made fa­mous by Lind­say Wagner) wasn’t very lik­able. She just wanted to kick ass all the time.’’

Ma­jors and Fawcett were the Brad and An­gelina of their time — two ma­jor stars in a high-pro­file mar­riage — but de­spite it end­ing

Young at heart:

Lee Ma­jors with fourth wife Faith, who is 35 years his ju­nior.

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