Lee Majors has been a pivotal figure in the film and television industry since the 1960s. He is best known as an actor in features like “The Big Valley,” “The Fall Guy,” and, most notably, in “The Six Million Dollar Man.” However, Majors has starred in plenty of other works that fall under the action-adventure genre and has also showcased more of his range in other projects.
Despite suffering from heartbreak and having to overcome plenty of obstacles throughout his life, Majors has never given up on his goals and aspirations. The star has persisted throughout the years, even as he got older, and continued to find work for himself in the field of his dreams. He had originally hoped to become an athlete or an athletic coach, but fate had other plans in store for Majors, and he changed careers in the direction toward acting.
Majors worked as a stuntman and picked up small roles in television shows along the way before hitting his big break and making acting a full-time job and a long-lasting career. The man quickly became an action star as he continued to land more and more jobs. By taking on roles in other projects, Majors was later able to show off more of his personality and other talents, like singing and voice work.
Even though he has faced many challenges along the way, Majors never stopped working hard toward reaching his goals. He’s been a prominent figure in the entertainment industry for well over 50 years and looks just as stunningly handsome as he did when he was in “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
Majors was born as Harvey Lee Yeary on Apr. 23, 1939, in Wyandotte, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He faced hardships early on and had to quickly learn a lot about the grieving process when both of his parents were killed in separate accidents before he was even two years old. His father died in a work accident before he was born, and his mother died in a car accident around the time he was 16 months old. Majors’ aunt and uncle, Mildred and Harvey Yeary, adopted him when he turned 2, and he moved in with them in their home in Middlesboro, Kentucky.
Majors showed promise early on as he participated in many school activities and was a great student. He played football and ran track at Middlesboro High School before graduating in 1957 with a scholarship to Indiana University. Despite this, Majors decided to switch schools and transferred to Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, in 1959.
Once again, the up-and-coming athlete was faced with tragedy when he suffered a back injury while playing football that left him completely paralyzed for two weeks, ending his hopes at an athletic career. This injury is what led Majors to look for other hobbies, and he was bit by the acting bug. He began performing in plays at the Pioneer Playhouse in Danville, Kentucky, while still working on his education. He graduated from college in 1962 with a dual degree in history and physical education, with the aspiration that he would one day be a football coach.
It seemed like everything was running smoothly for Majors as he was able to get his athleticism back after recovering from his severe injury. He received an offer to try out for the St. Louis Cardinals football team but turned it down to move to Los Angeles, California. There, Majors was able to work as Recreation Director for the North Hollywood Park and met many influential people in the entertainment industry, such as actors and other industry professionals. Around this time is when Majors adopted his now-infamous stage name as a tribute to Johnny Majors, a player and future coach for the University of Tennessee.
Shortly after, Majors began working as an actor and landed his first role in “Strait-Jacket” in 1964. The role was unfortunately uncredited, but Majors persisted nonetheless. He kept auditioning and working to make acting a full-time gig and picked up a minor role in “Gunsmoke” in 1965 and a part in “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.”
It wasn’t long before Majors finally found his stride and got his big break in the ABC western series “The Big Valley.” The show was an instant hit and helped Majors receive more praise and recognition as an actor. “I did an audition for ‘The Big Valley’ with about 500 other guys, and they narrowed it down so I did a screen test, as did Burt Reynolds, Roy Thinnes, Dennis Hopper, and then they married it down more,” Majors revealed in a 2015 interview with Den of Geek. “Then I had to do one more, and this time with a girl, a young actress to see if she could play my sister. After this I figured I had the part.”