THE STOLEN KISSES OF LEE MAJORS
TV Star Parade / November 1966
“Our love scenes were not the conventional, physical kind of affection. It was mostly done with eye contact.” Brown-haired Marilyn Mason’s soft lips curved into a smile. “But I can tell you Lee Majors is all male.”
Marilyn is single, 25 and a veteran of such shows as The Man From Uncle. Like every unmarried girl in Hollywood, she was thrilled with the call to play opposite Lee Majors in Big Valley. And what went on between them didn’t disappoint her.
“Lee,” says Marilyn, looking back, “is a young man who seems to have quiet brooding thoughts but way underneath there’s a lot of smile… that he hesitates to bring out. I get the feeling that he is afraid to laugh for he’s afraid it makes him weak. But with Lee I found I was able to get through the barrier. By the time I finished the show we were playing some wonderful practical jokes on one another.
“It all started when I hid his lunch sandwich and in its place put a little note where Lee left the sandwich. The note said: “The Phantom strikes again!” Lee finally found his lunch and came over to me and said: “Your script is over there on the floor.” And I found my script lying on the floor and there was a little sign… the same note actually .…”The Phantom Strikes Again!” I was going to pick up the script but I saw the little note first. They called me then for a scene. After the scene a prop man said: “You’d better pick up your script.” And I went back only to discover that it was nailed to the floor with six horseshoe nails. Then to get back at him again, I got a prop man, a mad Irish man named Matty, who was just full of devil … I got him to help me. Matty said: “I’ll take care of everything.“ Forty-five minutes later I followed Lee to his dressing room and discovered that the prop man had turned everything upside down ... Pulled everything out of the closet. He’d even rolled up the mattress from the studio couch and shoved it into the tiny bathroom Oddly enough Matty didn’t touch Lee’s mail. The same old note was there…“The Phantom Strikes Again!” All this prank playing came to an end when I was told to go find my car… and I thought sure it was in a mud ditch But he’d only let the air out of my two front tyres.
“Lee and I ended up having a great time but it took days to get relaxed with him and he with me. After we both warmed up to one another, I found him absolutely charming and the marvellous thing about him is that he’s not afraid to laugh. I find that when he laughs he is just adorable and it doesn’t make him any weaker, any less male. We had a couple of very good scenes. I’ve just seen the dailies. He gives these little suggestions of a smile and you always wish that he would give a little more ‘showing of the teeth’ on the screen.
“On the whole Lee and I got along very, very well.”
Would Marilyn like to carry her love scenes with Lee over to real life?
“I would certainly if I wasn’t in the situation I am in.” She means she’s going with Vice-President of Bing Crosby Enterprises, Mr. Edward Rissien. And she adds, “Of course, I don’t know what Lee Majors’ personal life is.”
Then she says a bit wistfully, “Lee is very appealing; there’s a lot of fun and mischievousness in him.
“He’s kind of a lot things rolled into one … There is a bit of the shyness in him which I think is charming in Lee’s case because behind that is a very strong man. But yet there’s a little insecurity there too, which is the case with most actors.
“Lee knows what he wants to do and there’s a bit of stubbornness there. He might have a bit of the Irish in him. He goes off into himself and thinks over the facts and is willing to try something or see something from the other person’s point of view.
“Because he has so many qualities he is one of those people who is mysterious and doesn’t give all of himself and thus makes you want more. It’s like a good performer who doesn’t give you 100% so that leaves you begging for more.
“I found myself wanting to get a little behind the front of what he lets you see.”… Marilyn, 25, has light brown hair.
And Marilyn is not alone. Lee himself - and the kisses he goes to great pains to keep secret - have intrigued a number of people around town. Linda Evans has played opposite him all during the series; actress Katherine Ross has been his co-star. Yet neither one will consent to be interviewed about Lee or her relationship to him. Patti Chandler was his best girl; she isn’t any more. She’s another who isn’t talking.
The one actress we found who knew Lee well and would talk (though anonymously) had no kisses for Lee, only brickbats.
She’d known him well from before Big Valley. They’d done a movie together; they got along very well so she was looking forward to renewing their friendship. When she arrived on the set and walked over to Lee, he absolutely ignored her, just kind of grunted and walked away. Their first scene together was to be a touching one. For camera - he didn’t even look at her. She was pretty mad, walked over: “Well, what’s with this routine?” He shrugged: “I’m trying to forget all that. I’m crossing it out of my life.” He never did warm up. She did the show and has hated his guts ever since.
The pressures of stardom, particularly sudden stardom, are hard for an outsider to understand. But we can tell you Lee is going through a rough period. He won’t talk and the girls he kisses won’t talk for fear of losing him. His fans respect his silence but wait hopefully for the day Lee can take the spotlight in stride and share his life with them again.
Note: Marilyn Mason was the actress who played Nora in THE BIG VALLEY 'Fallen Hawk'.