MovieChat Forums > The Six Million Dollar Man Discussion > Was Lee Majors kind of a moron and/or a ...

Was Lee Majors kind of a moron and/or a jerk?


I admit Lee Majors was good for the role.

Maybe it was the Kentucky accent, or the flattened nose that had obviously been broken several times (Majors played a lot of football in his youth), but Lee Majors brought a folksy charm that made him just about perfect for the role of a reluctant super-hero who acquired his powers not through a magic ring or gamma ray exposure - but by becoming a triple amputee after a horrific plane crash.

Still, as much as Lee Majors brought to the role of Steve Austin, you have to wonder if his stupidity and/or arrogance also led to the eventual demise of the show.

First, he publicly denounced The Bionic Woman spin-off series as 'The Bionic Rip-off' - despite the fact that TBW rescued his own show from near-cancellation toward the end of its third season and propelled it to a top-ten favorite in its fourth. And according to Hollywood lore, Majors was instrumental in ABC selling The Bionic Woman to NBC the very next (and last) season.

Then, he refused to report to work until the network met his (at the time) astronomical salary demands for what would become the final season. The network eventually caved, but his salary increase took a HUGE chunk out of the show's budget, and the writing, directing, and production values all took an enormous hit. If the loss of Jaime Sommers put The Six Million Dollar Man up against the ropes, the overall drop in quality all but guaranteed that Majors and the rest of the cast and crew would all be unemployed by the end of the fifth season.

I've heard that before deciding to meet his demands, the network briefly considered replacing Majors with Harrison Ford, who had just done Star Wars, but was otherwise an unknown at the time. If that had actually happened, you have to wonder if The Six Million Dollar Man would have gone on longer.

It's probably for the best, as Ford probably would never have been able to play Indiana Jones.

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Most likely the reason for Majors' dislike for The Bionic Woman was that he tried to get the producers to have his girlfriend Farrah play Jamie. He held a grudge.

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tmitch1, I think you might be mistaken about some things, specifically regarding Lee Major's feelings towards the spin-off.

In a TV Guide article, it said Universal had let go of Wagner's contract after her 1st appearance in the SMDMan 2 parter; as a result, after the huge audience demand, ABC had to pay her big bucks to appear in "The Return of the Bionic Woman" 2 parter. That did so well ABC committed to the spin-off, but Lindsay Wagner's new agent (I think his name was Ron Samuels, who was married to and represented Lynda Carter) played hardball with ABC and got Lindsay an incredibly high, almost unheard of salary in order to get her to do the Bionic Woman series. In fact, then ABC president Fred Silverman was quoted as saying the network "felt raped" by her agent's demands, harsh words and pretty insensitive too.

Lee Majors was understandably upset because Wagner was being paid more than him, because he was a well-known tv star whose success allowed her show to exist in the first place. So when ABC tried to start production on the Bionic Woman, Majors refused to appear on the pilot of BW until he got a raise. This caused a delay in the BW airing, which ticked off ABC and the BW show. Everyone felt Majors had to appear in the pilot, so he was finally given a raise comparable to Wagner's salary and he agreed to be in the pilot, as well as subsequent episodes. However, at no point during the 3rd season of 6MDM did Majors not show to work to his own show- he just refused to appear on her show until he got the raise. And I don't blame him, either. It had absolutely nothing to do with anything personal, and also, if Majors really didn't want to have anything to do with the BW, he could have refused to appear on it. As for Fletcher's idea that Majors was holding a grudge that his wife didn't get the starring role in the spin-off- considering he didn't want Farrah to work on Charlie's Angels, which was an ensemble of 3 actresses, there's no way he would have wanted her to star on the BW. Remember, she left Charlie's Angels after one season because the series made her take too much time away from Lee (that's no joke- that was really her excuse)!

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I wish you people would do some research. Lindsay Wagner was the only choice because the fans wanted her back Farrah was never in the game and Lee could care less. Lee and Lindsay has a great chemistry together and people wanted it to continue. Lee said his problem with Universal never had anything to do with Lindsay Wagner and yes he asked for more money but by then he wanted out of the show as Universal had broken so many promises and even Lindsay Wagner was glad when her show was over as she had problems with Universal. Yes Lee stills holds a grudge against Universal but has kept them in court for many years but has nothing to do with Farah

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That was some decades ago when I read Majors fought to have Farrah play the Jamie character when it was first conceived. When Lindsay was hired, Majors held a grudge, at least according to whatever article it was that I read. Possibly it was inaccurate; I don't even recall the source.
And yes, Majors and Wagner had good chemistry, although they didn't work together as often as they should've.

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Actually, I heard it was Gil Gerard who was going to replace him.

I don't know what's a sig. line? Can't think of one! Can you tell me what one is?

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I don't think Lee Majors as a jerk or moron. He had a dream of him working with Farrah Fawcett-Majors as majors stars spending intimate times together on movie sets without worrying not seeing each other for a long period. I am sorry for Lee and Farrah had their dreams crushed by studios.

The original poster was correct in details of what had happening, but I don't believe Lee or Farrah is a jerk.

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Just to add a bit to the discussion.... Lee was "old fashioned", he wanted his then Wife (Farrah) to be home at supper time. In fact he lobbied in her contract on Charlie's to have her work hours cut so she could be home.
I don't begrudge him for holding out for money, after-all the show was an international hit, and who knows how much was being made on merchandising. Many stars have gotten screwed on residuals and syndication money.
On another note I have read he was a bit "difficult" and somewhat arrogant on his first series The Big Valley, but was quickly "shown the ropes" by the seasoned and lovely Miss Barbara Stanwyk.

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A friend of Farrahs and Lee said that the idea for Farrah to leave the set early was totally Farrah's idea as she hated the show and eventually wanted out of the show to do movies. But yes Lee did want a woman to spend more time at home which he now has. Universal said they were not making any money on merchandising and Lee sued them because he was suppose to get 15% of merchandising and felt they were not being honest and in a recent interview he said there were other actors doing the same thing with that studio. Lee was not difficult on the Big Valley show Barbara was. Lee is a very self confidant person and she thought that was arrogant. Nobody other then her has ever called him arrogant but hes no wimp and will stand up for what he believes in. Peter Breck stated in some articles he wrote that he and Lee and Richard always got along great and had no problems but though he admired Barbara a lot she had a bad temper. Barbara did help Lee learn some things but I think mostly that is overstated

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You sure are indignant about these matters. I suppose I should state all my comments are IMO.

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No he did not have a dream of him and Farrah working together and in fact when offered a movie to work together he said no. Farrah wanted a career and Lee did everything he could to give her what she wanted and then she wanted the career more then she wantedh him and left. Ryan O'Neal was the worst mistake of her life

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.....AND Harrison Ford....AND.....wait for it......BRUCE JENNER :-O

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They could have just killed off or retired Steve and brought back Barney Hiller, the seven million dollar man, to replace him. Martin Caidin originally wanted Monte Markham to star in the series anyway.

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Interesting. I hadn't heard some of this. I do remember hearing/reading, even back in the 70's, that Majors wasn't keen on The Bionic Woman spinoff, but not to the extent you listed here. Afterwards though, when they did "The Bionic Boy" episode, he was not thrilled. And I also remember when they gave Jamie a "Bionic Dog" named Max, he told the studio that if they watered this subject matter any further with more absurd Bionic characters that he'd quit.

I will agree that the production values of the final season, and the overall quality, went into the crapper. The show had run it's course, but it also had one other major issue - Fred Freiberger. This guy was the Kiss of Death for TV shows. He presided over Star Trek TOS's terrible Season 3, where, coincidentally, production values went into the crapper. Then he did the same with Space 1999. Admittingly, SPACE 1999 was no classic. But Freidberger did his usual job of making things worse. The guy has his supporters, but IMO, his track record, which sucks, speaks for itself.

The final season of TSMDM feels like a shred of it's former self. Even the music score didn't feel right (and the same with the scores for TOS's last season). The tone just felt different.

It's a shame because I think both TSMDM and TBW both could have lasted a few more seasons.

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When will you people learn no to believe everything you read in the internet. The gentleman that brought up Lindsay's salary has the story right as it was all about money but there were other things going on. Lee was having problems with Universal as they made many promises and never kept any of them and he was glad when it was over and as for Lindsay they remain close friends today. Would also like to add that Universal in Lee's mind broke their contract with him about residuals and he had them in court for many years. I believe that Lindsay to was glad when her show was over because of problems with Universal

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Say what you will about his troubles with Universal, but he did come back to do a series called................wait for it, The Fall Guy with Glen "i've been know to steal others ideas" Larson. This of course this after his short and uneventful movie career... Norseman, Last Chase, Agency... need i go on!?

Don't quote me, but wasn't that produced by Universal?

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No it was not it belongs to Fox and yes he made some bad movies a lot of actors do. He said he could not shake the image of Steve Austin for the rest of his career and even Lindsay Wagner said she knew that doing the bionic woman ruined a possible movie career

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It is simply the choices one makes. Both Majors and Wagner(the Paper Chase) had been in films prior to television roles. Back then it wasn't as easy to switch from one medium to another as it is today within Hollywood. Yes they were typecast or "pidgeon holed" to a certain degree. Majors had clout and tried to makes films albeit via his own production co.

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When will you people learn no to believe everything you read in the internet. The gentleman that brought up Lindsay's salary has the story right as it was all about money but there were other things going on. Lee was having problems with Universal as they made many promises and never kept any of them and he was glad when it was over and as for Lindsay they remain close friends today. Would also like to add that Universal in Lee's mind broke their contract with him about residuals and he had them in court for many years. I believe that Lindsay to was glad when her show was over because of problems with Universal

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When will you people learn no to believe everything you read in the internet.
When you learn not to do duplicate posts. JUST KIDDING!!!

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