love today, gone tomorrow

Janet Weston / TV Picture Life / 1972


Is he, or isn’t he married? That’s the big question in the minds of Lee Majors’ closest friends, who are understandably puzzled by his contradictory statements on his relationship to his girlfriend, Farrah Fawcett. It’s not that Lee’s friends particularly care whether or not their actor friend has married again. It’s that they’re confused and hurt by his conflicting stories and evident lack of trust in him.

Why, they rightfully ask, would Lee tell some of them that he and Farrah were secretly wed last year and then turn around and tell other friends that he and Farrah were engaged to be married this fall? Why, they wonder does Lee feel compelled to discuss his supposed marriage with them in the first place? Is it a put-on? Is it a fabrication created by Lee’s guilt at having dated Farrah for four years without an offer of marriage? Or is it that Lee is so happily married he can no longer keep his marital joy to himself? And if the latter is true, why does Lee choose to keep it secret?

Perhaps the answers to these questions, as well as the truth, can be found in Lee’s background and his deep-rooted feelings about love and marriage.

Lee was born in Michigan but raised in Kentucky by Harvey and Mildred Yeary, who adopted him after his parents were both killed in a tragic automobile accident. At the time of his adoption, Lee was 12 years old. He was a painfully shy and lonely youngster, who four years later, became an outstanding athlete and earned a scholarship to Indiana University. After two years at Indiana, Lee transferred to University of Eastern Kentucky, where during his senior year, he suffered a serious back injury and was told he could never play football again.

It was at that time that he met his first wife, Kathy, a 16-year old high school student. Despite her youth, the couple were married shortly after Lee’s graduation. “I believed that if Kathy would only love me, I’d belong to somebody, somebody beautiful enough to drive all the anger out of me and I’d never be lonely again,” Lee later explained. He added, “I felt that regardless of how unhappy my past had been, with Kathy, nothing could take the present and the future away from me.”

But Lee was wrong.

With a degree that qualifying him to teach in elementary and primary schools, the couple set out for California in a old station wagon, with their year-old son, Lee Jr., no prospects and very little money. Arriving in Southern California the couple discovered difficult times. “We didn’t have a dime,” Lee recently recalled. “My teaching credentials were useless in California unless I put in another year on specialized subjects. And no matter how many jobs I tried to hold down, we were always in need of money.”

After months of struggling to get along, working at odd jobs, Lee decided to try his luck at acting. That was the last straw for Kathy. She moved out of their small apartment, taking Lee Jr., with her and shortly afterwards filed for divorce, despite Lee’s plea for a reconciliation. “It’s something I hope never happens to me again,” Lee has told friends repeatedly. “It takes a long time to eraze the memory.”

Lee was alone again. He was terribly hurt by the divorce. He was, in his mind, a failure as a husband and father and, more importantly, as a human being. Ironically, it was only a matter of weeks after the divorce was granted that Lee got his first break: a regular role in The Big Valley. And, within two weeks after the series debuted he was receiving bundles of fan mail.

After Big Valley left the air Lee moved into a role on The Men from Shiloh and began making some TV movies. This season, of course, he is returning to his co-starring role in the ABC series, Owen Marshall, Counsellor at Law, and is definitely on his way to television stardom.

With his career soaring, Lee began dating again. He dated his Big Valley co-star, Linda Evans, for a while. Then switched to Sally Field, Mary Ann Mobley and a bevy of other beauties. Then he met aspiring actress Patti Chandler, and for a while it appeared as though Lee would take the marriage plunge again. But it was an on-again, off-again romance, with Lee a reluctant Romeo, in constant retreat, afraid of marriage and another personal failure. After three years, Patti and Lee finally broke up. “I’m going to have be left alone and live with myself for a while,” Lee confided to friends. “Patti is a swell girl but I’m not ready to settle down. I don’t think I’ll ever marry again. If I do, I’ll have to be certain that’s the girl for me. I’ve been positive about my feelings before but I was wrong. I don’t want it to happen again.”

After his break-up with Patti, Lee returned to the solitude of his isolated Malibu ranch, preferring to spend most of his time alone or with old friends. He dated only infrequently until he happened to see a picture of an aspiring actress-model in an agency brochure. Her name was Farrah Fawcett. As taken with her name as with her photograph, Lee whimsically telephoned her and arranged a blind date. That was four years ago and the two have been almost inseparable ever since. At the time Lee first met Farrah she had been in Hollywood only two weeks. She was spending the summer on the West Coast, attempting to break into acting through modelling during her summer vacation from the University of Texas, where she was majoring in microbiology and minoring in art history. And although she and Lee were madly in love, Farrah - at the urging of her parents – returned to the university to complete her degree.

It was only a matter of days after her graduation, however, before Farrah left Texas and returned to California to resume her career and her relationship with Lee, a relationship frowned upon by her conservative parents. Wealthy Texans, who moved from Corpus Christi to Houston and a large home in the city’s most exclusive suburbs four years ago, the Fawcetts have been against their daughter’s romance with Lee from the beginning. They were upset at her relationship with Lee because he was divorced and because he was an actor. As proud parents, they felt that their beautiful and talented daughter was settling for far less than she deserved. And, as the years passed and there was still no marriage in sight, the Fawcetts rightfully became concerned over their daughter’s well-being. Despite their arguments and subsequent tempered reasoning, however, Farrah fought all parental pressures, even the threat of estrangement from her family, to remain with Lee.

Aware of Farrah’s parents’ feelings and her loyalty to him, Lee has wavered and asked Farrah to be his wife. A former agent of Lee’s even swears he saw Farrah and Lee at a Hollywood party and the beautiful young woman was wearing an engagement ring. But Lee, according to close friends, is still vacillating on the subject of marriage. And, understanding Lee’s background, one can see why the handsome young actor would think more than twice about remarrying. He’s afraid of being hurt...and hurting... again.

Marriage, he told friends, is one sure way of getting hurt. Like many people who have been burned by romance, Lee feels that marriage does nothing but spoil an otherwise beautiful friendship. And Lee and Farrah, according to friends do have a beautiful relationship. They are “as much alike as two people can be.” A Texas girl, Farrah is as much in love with freedom and the outdoors as is Lee and together they hunt, ski and fish, spending a great deal of their free time at Lee’s isolated cabin in Arizona.

Lee has never made any attempt to hide his feelings, “She’s everything I’ve ever wanted,” he’s told friends frequently. But he’s also told friends he’s”afraid of marriage, afraid of the hurt a bad marriage can bring.” And so afraid to marry Farrah but equally fearful of losing her and proving her parents correct in their assessment of both him and the relationship, Lee came up with the perfect story: that he and Farrah had been secretly married in a brief civil ceremony last year.

It was a story that Lee Majors had to tell. He was forced to fabricate a wedding because of his love for Farrah and his concern about her strained relationship with her parents. And, too, the story bought him time ... time to work out his fears, time to be sure marriage is the right step for both him and Farrah. In an ironic twist of fate, however, Farrah’s parents were upset about the news of her ‘civil wedding.” It seems the Fawcetts had always envisioned a large church wedding for their daughter. So friends are saying that, whether or not the original wedding took place, they wouldn’t be surprised if Lee and Farrah tied the knot in Houston sometime this fall.

Of course, at this point there’s nothing that could surprise Lee’s friends