Fall guy’s still standing
Lee Majors is 69, but definitely not over the hill, writes Colin Vickery
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.