As a kid in the early seventies one series that captured my imagination and was must watch TV for me on a Thursday night when it aired was ‘The Six Million Dollar Man,’ which pretty much consolidated Lee Majors as a household name.
Throughout the 1990s The Six Million Dollar Man and the spin-off series of The Bionic Woman were two of the shows that were often repeated on SciFi Channel in both the US and UK before that cable channel changed name to Syfy Channel.
Due to licensing difficulties the complete series hasn’t been available on DVD until recently. Time Life in the USA released the whole series on DVD for the US market in 2010. Here in the UK season one and two of both Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman have been available for some time, but again due to licensing issues the UK market has never been able to sell the whole series. At least not until now.
With the pending release of the complete series box set SFX Magazine recently caught up with the shows star Lee Majors who is still often surprised at how popular the series is and not just to kids who grew up in the seventies. Below are some of the highlights from the interview.
Ask whether the shows release onto DVD has jogged specific memories about doing the show. Lee majors was nothing but truthful. Especially when it came to talking about the physical demands of doing it.
“It wasn’t very much fun making the show! I was running my butt off the entire time [Laughs]. I would be at Edwards Air Force Base or someplace, on a runway, in 100 degrees, and you can see the long lens and the heat rising off the pavement, and I’m coming right at you, I’m running… the camera guy would put these rocks on the ground every 20 yards to keep the focus… I’d be running 40-yard sprints. And then I’d go by the camera and they’d say, ‘We got to do it again. We lost focus.’ And I’d do about two or three of those. I would beg the guys, ‘Listen, you better get it this time, because I don’t have any more in me.’ It was tough.”
Of course in Six Million Dollar Man it wasn’t just the running that hurt. Lee Majors co-star Richard Anderson often talks about Lee hanging from helicopters. Not stunt men but Lee Majors, who was renowned for doing his own stunts. When asked about this Majors revealed it to be true.
“Believe me, that’s true. That’s what wore me out. It was the hardest series… I always did most of my stunts on all my shows. I did stunts in Big Valley and The Fall Guy. It was the most enjoyable part of the shows to me, rather than doing all the dialogue. That wasn’t as much fun. When you’re doing the stunts, the time passes quicker.”
Majors went on to add that his penchant for stunts would often tick off the powers that be at the studios who didn’t like their actors taking such high risk chances, but by the time he’d got to doing the stunts there was often little they could do to stop him.
It is only in recent years that Majors has learned of how popular the series was and having the chance to meet fans at conventions has been a real eye opener to the actor. Not to mention the amount of tie – in products that were released during the series run.
“First of all, one you do a series, you just kind of hibernate for awhile. I was always working. Lately, I’ve had a little time. It’s kind of nice. I never really knew… the fans loved the show so much. I knew there were Trekkies out there, but I guess every show has its fans.”
When it comes to the tie-in toys. Again Majors was never aware of them, but has made it a mission in recent years to learn more.
“I never saw any of it. I never knew there was so much merchandise sold on that show. In fact over the last 10 years, my wife has been browsing eBay, and she’d come across something that was out there that I never knew existed. And we’ve been buying stuff on eBay just to see what it is. It’s just amazing.”
The complete series of The Six Million Dollar Man is already available in the USA through Time Life, but will hit these shores in March. We can only hope that the box set on region 2 has all the same extras and interviews as the Time Life release had for US fans because with a price tag of £110 UK customers will want their moneys worth.
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