Probably my all time favourite TV show as a little kid growing up in the 70s. One of my favourite T-shirts I wore to death had Steve Austin's face emblazoned across it, and of course I had the Six Million Dollar Man action figure. You were a no-body as a kid in the 70s if you didn't have one.
Six Million Dollar Man on TV started with a made-for-TV movie of the week, by ABC in March 1973. They had gained the rights to make the movie, after optioning the 1972 novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin. Which told the story of Steve Austin we know so well.
"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man." The lines from the opening sequence that still stick in my head some 40 years later. Every playground in the 70s had dozens of lads pretending to run in slow-motion and lift heavy objects with the "du-du-du-du-du-du..." sound effect. Even recently I was looking to buy some new trainers, and had a look to see if I could get the exact Adidas that Lee Majors, as Steve Austin wore on the show. I couldn't, but got some very close approximation Gazelles.
The massive success of The Six Million Dollar Man spawned a spin-off / cross-over show, The Bionic Woman. The show starred Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Summors, tennis star who suffered a near fatal parachute accident to become bionic. The Six Million Dollar ran for 5 seasons, and finally ended in 1978. The Bionic Woman ran for 3 seasons, from 1976 to 1978. The show made Lee Majors a huge international star, and the Bionic Man (as he was sometimes referred to), one of the biggest and most well remembered cultural icons of the 70s.
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Weird Retro Fact: The dialogue spoken Lee Majors during the opening credits, is based upon the real communication of test pilot Bruce Peterson, prior to the M2-F2 crash on May 10, 1967. "Flight com, I can't hold her! She's breaking up! She's breaking..." Peterson's aircraft hit the ground at approximately 250 mph (402 km/h) and tumbled six times. But Peterson survived what appeared to be a fatal accident. Actual footage from the crash was also used in the opening.