For Majors, 'Six Million Dollar Man' memories are priceless
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There was the time shooting the infamous Bigfoot episode where 7-foot-4, 400-pound pro wrestler André the Giant was supposed to throw Majors 10 feet but, after downing a six-pack of beer, instead tossed him about 20 feet.
There was the time during filming at the Palm Springs Tramway when he had to perform a high-wire act 250 feet above ground that two stunt men wouldn't do, only to look down during the scene to find the same two guys taking pictures of him.
And there was the time at Edwards Air Force Base when he had to dash 40 yards toward a camera for four different takes, and the cameraman misfocused on each one.
"It was a lot of work, and let me tell you, it wasn't all fun," says Majors, 71. "We would shoot in places like abandoned warehouses and utility plants and stuff like that. It seemed like I was always fighting a robot or something. Or Bigfoot!"
Now fans of the long-running action show can revisit those episodes and many more with the comprehensive 40-disc The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection, available only online at TimeLife.com. The set features every episode in its five seasons plus all three pilot movies, a trio of reunion movies, and new interviews with Majors and Lindsay Wagner, who starred in the spinoff, The Bionic Woman.
Majors hasn't had the time yet to seriously dig back into his work as Steve Austin, a test pilot and one-time astronaut who crashes and injures himself so badly that the government gives him cybernetic limbs and other body improvements to turn him into a 1970s secret agent — complete with bellbottoms.
The best part so far for him, though, has been opening up the DVD box set and, thanks to a sound chip, hearing the voice of Richard Anderson, who starred as Austin's boss Oscar Goldman. "That brought back a lot of memories," Majors says.
The actor had been a regular on other series in the 1960s and early '70s prior to The Six Million Dollar Man's debut in 1973 — including Western shows The Big Valley and The Virginian— and before starring in The Fall Guy in the 1980s. But his stint as Steve Austin really made him a household name around the world. Even now, he can stop by a village in the middle of nowhere in the Philippines, and everybody remembers him.
"I thought it was a great show for kids," Majors says, "and I probably caused a lot of accidents with (children) trying to jump off barns and running around the house in slow motion going, 'Do-do-do-do-do.' "
And Majors ran. A lot. His sports-filled childhood and college football background, as well as calf roping and other skills he learned doing The Big Valley, all helped with the action scenes befitting a bionic man.
"A lot of times, I'd be running and they'd set off explosions," Majors recalls. "We had a pair of effects guys who were pretty funny and out there, and they were in control of setting them off. They sad, 'Oh, we won't set this off until you're 10 yards by it!' Well, it went off right under my butt most of the time."
The Kentucky native will celebrate his 48th year in show business next year, but says it doesn't seem like that long. "Plus, I have a young wife who I look at and I feel like I'm the same age," Majors adds with a laugh. (His wife Faith is 36. ) "I want to be just like Ernie Borgnine when I grow up. He's 93 and still working."
These days, Majors' Six Million Dollar workout consists of hour-long morning walks, usually with a little stretching and light weight training. He stays in shape for all the traveling and acting he's still doing: He films a movie reboot of The Big Valley in 2011 (playing the father of his original character), is working on a Syfy pilot called Me and Lee (starring as himself), and met recently with some producers for the big-budget X-Men: First Class movie about a possible role in the superhero franchise.
While The Bionic Woman was unsuccessfully redone by NBC a few years back — Majors personally found the show too dark and violent for his tastes — he doesn't fear the day he gets the call that somebody wants to make another Six Million Dollar Man series.
"Not at all, as long as I'm in it," Majors says. "You know what, give me the Oscar Goldman part. Let me send the kid out on all those missions. That was a piece of cake for him!"