Tuesday, April 23, 2013

HB Lee Majors & Valerie Bertinelli!

When I was a kid growing up in the Seventies I had a few favorite TV shows that I loved to watch. The stars of two of my favorites actually share a birthday today, so I want to talk a little bit about Lee Majors and Valerie Bertinelli.

The Six Million Dollar Man ran from 1973-1978 with Lee Majors as Col. Steve Austin, an astronaut who crashes during a military exercise and is given bionic legs, arm, and eye in a top-secret experimental procedure. He then becomes America's top secret agent, using his super-human abilities to fight crime and to protect US security. Sometimes the stories were hokey, but in general they were played straight, especially at the beginning. Lee Majors made Steve a likeable fellow and the series was a big hit. I think it hit its zenith when it introduced The Bionic Woman, a love interest of Steve's who also suffers a crash. However, her body or mind rejects the bionic transplants. In a desperate attempt to save her life the doctors try an experimental procedure on her nervous system. She is saved, but somehow she loses her immediate memories, including the knowledge that she was in love with Steve. So he had to let her go, and Lee Majors made the melodrama work so well that I can remember the story nearly forty years later.

Unfortunately, after the introduction of The Bionic Woman the show went downward fast. Because she was so popular (she got her own series in 1976) the producers brought in a bionic dog and even a bionic Bigfoot. At this point the series was hopeless and I stopped watching.

Only later did I come across re-runs of The Big Valley, which also featured Lee Majors. We can talk about that show at some other time.

At about the time I stopped watching The Six Million Dollar Man (by the way, do you remember when that amount was actually pretty high? Now it's a bargain!) One Day At A Time made its debut. It ran from 1975-1984 and centered around Bonnie Franklin as a divorced mother. I wasn't much of a fan of her, but I did like her 15 year-old daughter Barbara, played by Valerie Bertinelli. She was adorable! For a few years I just watched it for her (and the comic antics of Pat Harrington as Schneider the apartment superintendent).
I think my favorite years were the second or third when she had a nerdy best-friend who wasn't her boyfriend. Pretty quickly she became a hot young woman, but the show was no longer interesting to me. I was graduating from high school, going to Japan, and going to college, so I never saw Touched By An Angel or anything else with her in it. She will always be one of my early TV crushes. 

Happy Birthday Lee Majors!
Happy Birthday Valerie Bertinelli!



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