Toys of the 1980's
The Fall Guy
In 1981, the country was crazy for big, stupid car chases that ended in a bunch of yahoos (usually cops) crashing in various ways. The trend had been started a few years earlier by such films as Smokey and the Bandit and Convoy. Such scenes invariably called for large numbers of stuntmen who plied their trade anonymously - and dangerously - behind the scenes. For a time, such men (and women) started to gain notoriety in their own right, and the public wanted to know more about them. This gave rise to such films as 1978's Hooper, starring Burt Reynolds in the latest of his long string of hits, and the more aptly titled The Stuntman with Peter O'Toole. These films offered behind-the-scenes looks at the world of the stuntman and his place in the universe.
Then, in 1981, came The Fall Guy. The show debuted in November of 1981 on ABC, and was an instant hit, eventually running to 5 seasons. It starred Lee Majors (nee Harvey Lee Yeary of Middlesboro, Kentucky) as Colt Seavers, a stuntman who between gigs moonlighted as a bounty hunter. Majors, who at the time in his early 40's, was still fit (and handsome) enought to take on such a physically strenuous role. He was certainly no stranger to TV audiences: for much of the previous decade he had enjoyed fame as The Six Million Dollar Man and, before that, as one of the Barkleys on The Big Valley. He was also famous for being married to the woman who at the time was considered the most beautiful in the world, Farrah Fawcett, the blonde California beauty who'd probably been responsible for more one-handed poster holding than anybody else in the world.
Majors as Seavers spent the next five seasons stunting and bounty-hunting with costars Heather Thomas as the knockout-gorgeous stuntgirl Jody Banks, and handsome-but-bland Douglass Barr as Colt's aw-shucks cousin Howie Munson. He got to drive his big ol' GMC pickup truck, shoot pistols, climb out of burning wrecks, and all the other sort of zany stuff one would expect a man with such a life would do on a regular basis. Coming in the immediate post-Dukes of Hazzard, Cannonball Run era, the show hit all the correct notes regarding big stunts, grinning handsome goodguys, super-hot female costars, etc. In short, it was basically good, clean, dumb fun.
Such shows are considered complete relics today - sandwiched between post-Reagan nannyism and politically-correct do-gooderism, a lot of older TV hits are now frowned upon at the very least. But The Fall Guy, like many shows of its kind and era, still enjoys a legion of devoted fans who remember when TV didn't have to try to be relevant, or so damn serious all the time.
The Fall Guy Facts:
- The show debuted on Wednesday night, November 4, 1981, on the ABC network; the pilot episode was two hours long.
- It featured such guest-stars as Eddie Albert as a crooked sheriff and Lou Rawls as a black country-and-western singer.
- It also featured cameos by people like former Dark Shadows beauty Lara Parker and future TV star Delta Burke.
- Jo Ann Pflug, that perennial 70's TV guest-star, appeared in the first season as Colt's friendly bailbondswoman.
- Markie Post - soon to be on Night Court - took the role after Pflug left.
- The theme song, "The Unknown Stuntman," was sung by Majors and co-written by producer Glen A. Larson.
- Although they were separated at the time, the pilot episode also had a brief cameo appearance by Farrah Fawcett; celebrity followers must have been heartbroken to see the once-married megastars together one last time, particularly when Majors ended the show by giving her a tender kiss on the hand before walking away.