I think the premise of the series was for the title character to be a government agent/spy. The episodes that had Austin as an astronaut where pretty sparse. I believe Caidin's novel Cyborg portrayed Austin as a Col. in the Air Force(not sure how much space experience he had, it's been quite some time since i read the novel.)
While i agree with your comments of being cool headed and daring, that grew out of the test pilot culture of flying experimental aircraft(primarily jet fighters), most all of the early astronauts where from this culture. But back to my original point, the character, if being true to the Cyborg novel, was supposed to be a cold killing machine.
I think if you go back and look at those episodes, where Markham guest appeared, even his face had that cold glare( what you want to portray a cybernetic government agent who often needed to kill in order to fulfill his mission.) I know from seeing interviews Majors didn't like having to play a "robot", and he chose to interject more humor as part of the character.
I will agree that Majors was a well established TV star, and Markham was primarily a guest star, and that is probably why they chose him for the lead. You mentioned The Fall Guy, as did I, that was probably because both series were on the ABC network and Glen Larson the producer(Fall Guy) also had a good working relationship with Majors. I think Majors was much better suited to a role like Colt Seevers(sp.)
To sum it up, I'm not saying Majors wasn't a good actor. My point is, in my opinion, Markham would have done a better job as the character written in the novel Cyborg on which the series was based.
Markham has kind of a hammy over-actor in the $7million episode, imo. Although Markham a lot of fun to watch, I think Majors was the better choice.
Monte Markham was Martin Caidin's choice for Steve.
But as grendelkhan said "Majors had the charisma to carry the show..."
Monte Markham might have been a better actor, but with him as the lead I seriously doubt that we would remember the series today. Much the same as with Star Trek - Jeffrey Hunter made a great Captain Pike, and the pilot was good sci-fi, but would it have spawned the Trek franchise that we have today? I doubt it.
Of course, there's no way to know, but sometimes, I think things happen the way they're supposed to.
All of that being said, I wasn't really a fan of '6M$M' when it was first run, but I loved 'The Bionic Woman'.
I disagree. Lee Majors is underrated. He never overacted. He is has got a natural acting ability. I love his quiet sense of humor. I was a little girl who developed a huge crush on the guy after watching this show. Think it was my first celebrity crush. Whenever he acts in anything, I try to watch it.
Markham didn't and doesn't hold a candle to Lee Majors. In fact, I had to look him up to find out what he looked like. Had know idea who the guy was. So if he was such a better actor, wouldn't he have become more famous than Lee. Lee went on to do another hit with the Fall Guy. I don't think The Six Million Dollar Man would have been such a big hit without Lee Majors.
Again my point is, and if staying true to the original written material by Caidin, Markham was a better choice. Markham had a TV series in the late 60's just like Majors, and he had been in some feature films e.g., Return of Magnificent Seven. No he didn't have another series like Fall Guy, but I think your school girl crush, as you call it, is jading a cold, logical analysis of this situation.
Majors had a big chance to break out in Midnight Cowboy, but I don't think he wanted to play a character that had some homosexual overtones. You should do some more reading on who(Majors) was and not just get lost in physical appearance.
Thanks for the advice... but I know quite a bit about who Lee Majors was. Have done plenty of reading on him. Sorry...I don't really care about the background of Cyborg. Lee Majors made the show a hit. Who cares if he didn't do Midnight Cowboy. I respect the man for the things he has done. Why must everything be over analyzed? It was over 40 years ago...doesn't really matter anymore. The show was entertainment and fun.
Have a great night.