A major part of 1970s pop culture was born on this day in 1974 when the television series The Six Million Dollar Man first aired on the ABC network in the US.
The show starred Lee Majors as Colonel Steve Austin, a former astronaut with bionic implants working for a fictional government agency known as OSI, under the auspices of its director Oscar Goldman, played by Richard Anderson.
Austin is severely injured in a crash while test-piloting an experimental aircraft, but it decided to ‘rebuild’ him at the cost of $6 million; his left eye, right arm and both legs are replaced with ‘bionic’ implants, giving him much greater strength, speed and vision than a normal human.
In each episode, at the behest of Goldman, Austin would undertake a new secret mission on behalf of the OSI – his bionic powers represented by the use of slow motion sequences and sound effects.
The concept for the series came from the hit novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin, which formed the basis for a pilot television movie aired in 1973. Two further pilots were produced before ABC launched the series the following year.
An instant success – particularly among older children - the show made Majors a star and even spawned a spin-off series, the Bionic Woman, starring Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers (above).
The show contributed to the era’s pop culture with its quotable opening narration ("We can rebuild him...we have the technology"), and its signature slow-motion action sequences and accompanying sound effects, the mimicking of which became staple playground activity.