It seems almost inconceivable that not once during his 1970s/1980s heyday did Lee Majors even so much as guest-star on Dallas, Dynasty, Knot’s Landing or the like. But it’s all for a very good reason — the bionic man is merely human.
“When you’re doing The Six Million Dollar Man all through the ’70s and The Fall Guy all through the ’80s, you don’t have time to do anybody else’s shows,” Majors tells TVLine with a laugh.
He then points out, “Most of my shows, starting with The Big Valley and moving on up to The Virginians, have been action series. And a lot of them are The, and you never want to take a series with The in it, because it means you’re in every shot. And since I did about 90 percent of my own stunts, it just wears you out. So I hibernated during my time off.”
Majors, however, is now filling the primetime sudser gap in his resume this week on TNT’s Dallas (Monday, 9/8c), when he kicks off a three-episode arc as Ken Richards, an old, pre-J.R. flame of Sue Ellen’s.
“She calls him out of the blue for some business help — and she does mention that she’d been wanting to call me for quite a while, but needed a reason to pick up the phone,” Majors previews. As for whether their reunion will be strictly business, “Sue Ellen hints at some romanticism, but I don’t know which way it’s going.”
Regardless, could this reconnect with an old friend cure what’s been ailing the grande dame, who tumbled off the wagon when J.R. passed? “She is drinking heavily. Every scene I had with her, she had just finished poured some vodka in her Coca-Cola,” Majors confirms. “So she is still having that problem. But that’s about all I can tell ya!”
Though this Dallas stint marked the first time Majors had met Gray (“We clicked right away,” he reports, “because we work the same way”), it’s not his first brush with Southfork royalty.
“Larry [Hagman] lived a few houses down from me in Malibu, so I’d see him on the weekends,” he recalls. “He would dress in funny outfits, like as a monk or something, and he wouldn’t talk on Sundays — because one time he lost his voice and his doctor told him to take one day and don’t talk. We thought it was silly, but we would drink and have a good time, and at least we didn’t have to listen to him!” he jokes.
Although Majors’ Dallas arc stops short of the Season 2 finale (airing April 15), “It’s wide open,” he says, for Ken to resurface during any possible Season 3. And he seems up for the gig, seeing as the TNT drama is missing that tiring The from its title.
Reflecting again on his back-to-back-to-back series regular runs, Majors says, “There were only three channels and it was very competitive, so you were lucky to be on at all. It was very tough. And we did a lot of [episodes] back then — maybe 42 when I started on The Big Valley, and then 38, and 32…. So I’d want to do a series like Dallas with a big ensemble, where you have to work maybe two or three days a week, doing maybe two scenes on those days.”
But what about revisiting (or “rebuilding,” Steve Austin-style) one of his past successes? Majors says that while The Fall Guy is forever his favorite, if given the option to reboot one of his old shows, “I would pick Six Mil’ — if I could play [OSI boss] Oscar Goldman, because he just sat in the office and called me to say, ‘OK, you go do this, Steve!’ I would take that part any day.”
In addition to his Dallas arc, Majors returns to Fox’s Raising Hope, where he plays Burt’s dad, this Thursday at 9/8c.