Lee Majors: What could possibly “cloud” his six million dollar future?
By Tom Rutland / Preview Magazine / September 1976
Gable and Lombard. Tracy and Hepburn. Majors and Majors? If the combination of Lee Majors and his striking wife, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, doesn’t strike you quite as lustrous as those previous pairings, ABC is betting more than a few million dollars that you – along with approximately 50 million other TV viewers - will feel differently when The Six Million Dollar Man returns to the network for its fourth season this fall while Mrs. Majors debuts as the star of its Wednesday night answer to NBC’s Police Woman, a detective threesome called Charlie’s Angels.
The odds are more than favourable that the Majors and Majors double punch will swiftly vanquish any competition - Lee has already bested the likes of Cher in previous seasons while Farrah’s detective opus should easily dwarf its rather weak competition (NBC’s Best Sellers and CBS’ Blue Knight).
But what no one is giving odds on is how long this beautiful partnership can last – off the screen. Like their predecessors, the Majors have proved to be just as “volatile” as Gable and Lombard did in their heyday – but luckily just as tough and thick-skinned as Tracy and Hepburn at their peak. With all the rumors and innuendos surrounding their now eight-year old relationship, husband and wife will need a lot of Tracy’s and Hepburn’s “toughness” to thumb both their noses at such “idle gossip” – while both are holding down leads in series on the same network.
Last fall, a full-page ad appeared in Variety, a Hollywood trade paper, calling attention to Lee’s directing of one of his bionic man adventures. Hardly unusual, but what caught the attention of the whole town the little “P.S.” Lee himself added, in which he stated: “To quiet those rumor-mongers who are determined to dissolve our marriage in print let it be known that Farrah Fawcett-Majors and I have never been happier in our seven years together!”
Fortunately for the Majors – and their friends and fans – Lee’s “P.S” was true. Their marriage is not only secure, but downright sturdy. Unfortunately, however, Lee’s well-intentioned “P.S” only served to add fuel to the fire - “questions” about a “splitsville” situation still appeared in Hank Grant’s column in another trade paper, The Hollywood Reporter, while even the likes of The National Enquirer “reported” on a “fight” between the Majors outside a Beverly Hills private watering hole called Pip’s.
“It’s all bull!” is Majors succinct response to all the flap surrounding the so far unflappable pair. As for Mrs. Majors, she admits: “Lee found out about tongue-wagging long before I did. When he played Barbara Stanwyck’s son on The Big Valley there were constant rumors about his animosity toward Miss. Stanwyck. He has tried to warn me, but I’m having trouble realizing that people can be so cruel.” Trouble started popping up over a year ago when Farrah’s name was falsely linked to tennis star Jimmy Connors – “My God!” she laughs, “I’m just a friend of his mother’s!” – and then to a bond teenager, Vincent Van Patten, who happens to be a long time family friend and her occasional tennis partner.
As Lee’s add made all to clear, it’s difficult for the Majors to ignore the often “cruel world” outside their lush Bel Air home- try as they might. Of course, the rumors may not be particularly pretty but they are understandable. After all, what better target to pull down than two tanned, beautiful, All-American types like the Majors? Lee, a Kentucky boy who made it to Hollywood after leaving a football scholarship at the University of Eastern Kentucky behind him, has a lot in common with his wife – a former University of Texas co-ed who came to Hollywood when an agent spotted her photo in a local newspaper.
Despite whatever rumors or reports supermarket tabloids and the like may publish, Lee and Farrah fortunately share not only similar southern backgrounds but somewhat laidback, take-it-on- -the chin temperaments. He may be a Taurus and she an Aquarius, but the Majors have not suffered a major problem since they met in 1968. Majors spotted a photo of Farrah in his agent’s office and promptly phoned the Studio Club – where the transplanted Texan was staying – and left word that he’d pick her up at 7:30 that evening. She thought he was brash while he thought she was “the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen.” He told her so – even if took ten minutes for him to screw up enough courage to tell the tawny, slender beauty from Houston.”
“Before I dated Farrah,” Majors reveals in a recent interview, “I dated a lot. That was when I was first out here. I’m talking about ’63, ’64, ’65. I was kind of caught up in this thing while out here as far as doing a lot of dating and what not. Going to all the parties. ‘Cause it was fun – but it’s only fun for a while. Then you realized what it’s all about – and it’s not that exciting. I dated probably every actress in this town. Natalie Wood, Carol Lynley, Katharine Ross. And they are all lovely ladies, but it took a long time to meet a girl as pretty as Farrah – and as pretty inside, too. And she hasn’t changed a bit in the years I’ve known her. We’ve got a great relationship.
“She’s a little ray of sunshine in my life, “he continues, “Aside from being married to her, I’m very proud of what she’s doing on her own. We have gone out with a lot of couples, you know, and every time we go out, it takes them about a month to really get to know us and then the girl will say: ‘You know, I was really jealous of her. I was really looking for something to dislike – a scar or something...’ but they never find anything ...”
A similar kind of “doubt” is probably responsible for the columnists and “friends” who want to find a scar in the marriage. One insider reveals: “They’re just too good and too beautiful to believe. No wonder everybody wants to find a flaw there.” But if the “perfect couple” ever do reach an imperfect impasse, it won’t have anything to do with other people - perfect or imperfect. Shaking her model-perfect blonde tresses, Farrah admits the rumors can be disturbing. “A lot of it’s about Lee and me going out with other people. Unfortunately, my mom and dad worry. And although they know me very well, things they hear can’t help but bother them.”
Whatever Farrah’s parents hear – her father is a pipe line contractor for oil fiends “down home in Texas” where she returns to visit at least every three or four months - the Majors’ close friends in Hollywood only hear the Majors’ “bickering” over who’s the better jock. He admits he can’t ski well while she admits football is not her metier. But they both jog together, while Farrah is still trying to persuade TV’s Six Million Dollar Man to join her regularly on the tennis court. Friends like Sony Bono, Burt Reynolds and Dinah Shore, and the Johnny Carsons are likewise sports-minded - and likewise inclined to ignore any of the rumors that may surround their own relationships.
With so much in common with each other – and with their close friends – Lee and Farrah have managed to secure themselves away from what Lee not-so-kiddingly calls “this town’s yearly quota of crap” in lush-yet-comfortable home in Bel Air which is nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. Simply but elegantly furnished in “French country with a little Chinese thrown in,” the U-shaped home serves as both a deep bond between the couple and, not incidentally, as a powerful bulwark against the rumors floating around in the outside world.
Yet, what Farrah’s Hollywood “tongue-waggers” have not been able to asunder via rumor and innuendo may be torn apart, ironically enough, by the Majors themselves once rigorous schedule of their individual series begins. Previously, Farrah’s career was a part-time concern – sandwiched between her duties as Mrs. Majors and her continuing devotion to sculpture (which she studied in college). And what work she did choose was directly supervised by Mr. Majors. “I always ask for a 6pm cut-off,” Lee reassured one reporter recently. Which never bothered Farrah: “I know Lee is the dominant figure,” she smiles, “because I want him to be. It’s like when he comes home. I always make a point of being there. Of having a drink ready and the music playing. I like that. I like the idea of taking care of my man.”
So does Lee. And that might be the problem the Majors –not to mention the “tongue-waggers” - never considered. What happens when The Six Million Dollar Man arrives home for his drink and Lee’s angel isn’t home yet- still shooting at the studio despite his 6pm cut-off clause?
It sounds like a problem only a superman – or a bionic man – could solve successfully. But Farrah blonde-but-far-from dumb, may have inadvertently revealed the solution herself in a recent interview.
“In the end,” she says, “I want him to be boss. He’s strong - and he knows I’m strong. And he has the ability to listen and be reasonable!”