SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN/ABC/1974-78 (Injured Arm, Legs, Eye)
Colonel Steve Austin (Lee Majors), USA Astronaut badly injured in the crash of an NASA experimental moon-landing craft at Edwards Air Force Base in the California desert.
His shattered body was reconstructed with bionic parts which included a powerful right arm, two mechanical legs which enabled him to run faster than a car and a left eye which transcended normal vision. The price of his operation-six million dollars.
Narrator: Steve Austin. Astronaut. A man barely alive.
Oscar Goldman: Gentlemen…we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first Bionic Man.
Narrator: Steve Austin…..will be that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster.
Coming to his aid was a special government project headed by Dr. Rudy Wells (Martin Balsam/Alan Oppenheimer/Martin E. Brooks) who had perfected a series of artificial limbs/organs that could reconstruct Steve Austin’s body into a Cyborg…part machine, part human.
The operation replaced Steve’s right arm, both his legs, and a left eye. After adjusting to his new body, Steve’s new legs enabled him to run at incredible speeds; his new arm with his nuclear power source gave him the strength of a bulldozer; and his new eye not only approximated but transcended normal vision. The price tag for this operation was six million dollars.
With his new special abilities, Steve (a.k.a. “The Bionic Man”) worked for the government Office of Scientific Information (OSI) headed by Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) and battled the enemies of America.
Month’s later Steve’s girlfriend Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) was injured in a sky diving accident. With Steve’s intervention, OSI equipped her with artificial legs, a right arm and right electronic ear.
Unfortunately, Jaime died after her body rejected her bionic parts but she was brought back to life via cryogenic suspension methods as THE BIONIC WOMAN/ABC/NBC/1976-78 (The Bionic Woman’s catalog number was 87312.) The resulting trauma to her body left her with no memory of having known her fiancé Steve. Jaime, too, eventually worked for the OSI in between teaching school in Ojai, California.
Others to benefit from bionic technology included:
- Andy Sheffield, The Bionic Boy (Vincent Van Patten), a paralyzed teenager who had both legs replaced.
- Maximillian “Max” the Bionic Dog, a German shepherd injured in a laboratory fire equipped with a bionic jaw and four bionic legs at a cost of $1 million (Max became Jaime’s pet)
- Barney Miller (Monte Markham), a bionically rebuilt race driver. Barney Miller was given nuclear-powered parts in a 1974 episode. He was the only living man stronger than Steve Austin.
The SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and THE BIONIC WOMAN were inspired by the novel “Cyborg” (1972) written by Martin Caiden.
Steve Austin is THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN
In 1987, the NBC network aired the TV movie THE RETURN OF THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN AND THE BIONIC WOMAN (5/17/87) with Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner reprising their roles to save America from a group of mercenaries.
The movie introduced Steve’s son, Michael Austin (Tom Schanley) from an earlier marriage who sustained major injuries when his Air Force jet malfunctioned/crashed during his solo flight. Again, at the insistence of Steve, the OSI reconstructed his son and fitted him with a microchip computer in his chest, a new bionic right arm, 10 artificial ribs, reinforced spine, a laser equipped right eye and two new bionic legs. Due to the advances in technology, Michael was even faster than Jamie and Steve.
The movie also featured a happy ending with Jamie regaining her memory of her love for Steve. At the end of the movie they walked arm-in-arm toward a happier future.
The TV movie THE BIONIC SHOWDOWN (4/30/89) again teamed Steve and Jaimie with a new bionic woman named Kate Mason (Sandra Bullock) to battle a renegade cyborg.
Note: Other TV shows have featured bionic entities:
- The espionage adventure A MAN CALLED SLOANE/NBC/1979-80 costarred. Torque (Ji-Tu Cumbuka), a 6-foot 5-inch black secret agent with a bone-crushing stainless steel (in reality aluminum) bionic hand equipped with drills, saws, lock pick, laser beam and even a radio transmitter whose antenna doubled as a spear.
- The low-budget sci-fi movie Cyborg (1966) written by Arthur C. Pierce starred Michael Rennie as Garth, a cyborg who came from the future to destroy a mind controlling device that would in years to come reign supreme as a tool of a vicious totalitarian government.
- The animated CYBORG-BIG “X” told the story of Cyborg Big X, (aka “Akira”), a robot body with the brain of a human which battled criminals. The cartoon was adapted from a Japanese comic strip Big X created by Osamu Tezuka. The program debuted in Japan in 1964-65 and was syndicated in 1967.
- In 1987, an animated sci-fi program called THE BIONIC SIX featured the adventures of two bionic parents and their four multi-racial adopted children who fought crime.
See also: The Bionic Woman