|The Fall Guy
Samantha "Big Jack" Jack
Jo Ann Pflug (1981-82)
Markie Post (1982-85)
Nedra Volz (1985-86)
Lee Majors was no stranger to successful television programs. In the 1960s he had starred in the western series The Big Valley, and followed that with Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law (1971-74) before achieving superstardom in The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-78). In The Fall Guy his role was that of movie stuntman Colt Seavers, who moonlighted as a bounty hunter, aided by his cousin and protege Howie Munson (Douglas Barr) and the sexy stuntwoman Jody Banks (Heather Thomas.) Colt received his assignments from a succession of bail bondswomen portrayed by the likes of Jo Ann Pflug and Markie Post. (The latter would go on to star for seven seasons in the hit sitcom Night Court.)
Running for five seasons, with a total of 113 episodes, The Fall Guy usually opened with a spectacular stunt -- in fact, the action scenes were far more entertaining than most of the plots. A legion of faithful fans didn't worry about the show's dramatic shortcomings, though, not with plenty of exotic locales, beautiful women, and a whole host of guest stars that included Richard Burton, Milton Berle, Robert Wagner and Cyd Charisse. In fact, entire episodes were built around the guest list; "Losers Weepers" featured a platoon of TV comedians and "Happy Trails" showcased old TV cowboy stars (See Series Highlights below). One episode, "Trauma" (9.28.83) was used to introduce a new ABC series called Trauma Center starring James Naughton and Dorian Harewood; "Trauma" was the first segment of the two-part episode which concluded on the new medical drama. (This crossover ploy didn't work -- Trauma Center was cancelled at mid-season.)
The Fall Guy was popular with kids, and spin-off merchandise included a truck and stunt plane (above) as well as a lunchbox (below).
"The Fall Guy" (2-hr pilot: 11.4.81): Colt Seaver, stunt man and bounty hunter, protects a friend and his family while pursuing a crooked sheriff.
"Colt's Angels" (12.2.81): Colt infiltrates a biker club to bring back a fugitive wanted for rape and drug-dealing.
"Soldiers of Misfortune" (2.10.82): Colt and Howie join up with a woman journalist in pursuit of a mercenary.
"The Silent Partner" (4.28.82): A country-western singer frames his chauffeur for murder. Mickey Gilley guest stars.
"The Ives Have It" (11.3.82): Colt's search for a female burglar is complicated by the fact that she has a twin sister.
"The Reluctant Traveling Companion" (11.24.82): Colt is bringing a woman bail jumper back by train and keeps running into fellow passenger Richard Burton.
"Happy Trails" (1.12.83): Celluloid cowboy stars James Drury, Doug McClure and Roy Rogers help Colt deal with a couple of conmen.
"Manhunter" (1.19.83): Colt heads to Mexico on the trail of a pair of jewel thieves. Priscilla Presley guest stars.
"Eight Ball" (2.9.83): Colt befriends an alcoholic pool player who's in trouble with the Mob. Tony Curtis guest stars.
"Baker's Dozen" (10.19.83): Colt discovers that an Arizona dude ranch is actually a paramilitary training camp.
"The Huntress" (1.11.84): Colt is on the trail of a hit woman (Cyd Charisse) who has expensive tastes in art.
"Always Say Always" (2.22.84): Actresses Britt Ekland, Joanna Pettit and Lana Wood stop work on a new James Bond flick to help Colt break up a Hong Kong smuggling ring.
"Losers Weepers" (9.19.84): Comedians Dick Shawn, Larry Storch, Frank Gorshin, Don Adams and Jimmie Walker guest in an episode about a $3 million theft.
"Prisoner" (10.10.84): Jody is arrested and sent to a prison farm where inmates are sold to white slavers.
"Private Eyes" (10.24.84): Private eyes Cannon (William Conrad) and Petrocelli (Barry Newman) are involved in a case of stolen stunt cars.
"I Love Paris" (1.16.85): Colt goes to Paris to stop an assassin only he can identify.
"No RMS Ocean Vu" (1.4.86): Colt is stranded on a desert island with a spoiled heiress when their plane is shot down by bandits.
"The Unknown Stuntman" (The Fall Guy theme)
Written by David Somerville, Gail Jensen & Glen Larson; sung by Lee Majors
Well I'm not the kind to kiss and tell
But I've been seen with Farrah
I'm never seen with anything less than a nine, so fine
I've been on fire with Sally Field
Gone fast with a girl named Bo
But somehow they just don't end up as mine
It's a death-defyin' life I lead
I take my chances
I die for a livin' in the movies and TV
But the hardest thing I ever do
Is watch my leading ladies
Kiss some other guy while I'm bandagin' my knee
I might fall from a tall building
I might roll a brand new car
'Cause I'm the unknown stuntman that made Redford such a star
I never spent much time in school
But I taught ladies plenty
It's true I hire my body out for pay, hey hey
I've gotten burned over Cheryl Tiegs
Blown up for Raquel Welch
But when I end up in the hay it's only hay, hey hey
I might jump an open drawbridge
Or Tarzan from a vine
'Cause I'm the unknown stuntman that makes Eastwood look so fine
Justine Bateman, Michael J. Fox, Meredith Baxter-Birney, Michael Gross, Brian Bonsall, Tina Yothers
Elyse Keaton.....Meredith Baxter-Birney
Steve Keaton.....Michael Gross
Alex P. Keaton.....Michael J. Fox
Mallory Keaton.....Justine Bateman
Jennifer Keaton.....Tina Yothers
Andrew Keaton.....Brian Bonsall (1986-89)
Irwin "Skippy" Handelman.....Marc Price
Ellen Reed.....Tracy Pollan (1985-86)
Nick Moore.....Scott Valentine (1985-89)
Lauren Miller.....Courteney Cox (1987-89)
Elyse and Steve Keaton used to be fervent "flower children" of the Sixties counterculture. Now they epitomize middle-class America; she's an architect and he manages a public television station. They live in Middle America (Columbus, Ohio), and are raising a family that includes an overachieving son, Alex, and a ditzy daughter, Mallory. Elyse and Steve still espouse the liberal ideals of their youth. Alex, on the other hand, is an ultra-conservative would-be-yuppie. A picture of his idol, William F. Buckley, Jr., hangs over his bed. He reads the Wall Street Journal assiduously. He devoutly supports the supply-side theory of Reaganomics. And therein lies the source of much of the humor in this long-running sitcom -- the generation-gap clash between Alex and his parents provided the perfect vehicle for a sitcom that poked irreverent fun at everything Eighties. In the process, Family Ties became, in many respects, the ultimate Eighties sitcom, lasting for seven seasons and a total of 180 half-hour episodes.
Michael J. Fox, who played Alex, became the star of the show -- and a film star at the same time, thanks to the huge success of 1985's Back to the Future. (He was listed as one of the twelve "Promising New Actors of 1985" in Vol. 37 of John Willis' Screen World.) Prior to Family Ties, Fox appeared in the short-lived (1980-81) TV series, Palmerstown, USA. He continued to make feature films in the 1990s, but his biggest post-Family Ties success was the TV sitcom Spin City, debuting in 1996. In 1998, Fox revealed that he'd been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1991, and that affliction caused him to leave Spin City in 2000. Fox won three consecutive Emmy Awards for his role as Alex P. Keaton.
Meredith Baxter-Birney also made John Willis' list of "Promising New Actors" -- in the 1976 edition (Vol. 28) of Screen World. Prior to Family Ties she had starred in a couple of TV series, including Bridget Loves Bernie (1972-73), with David Birney, whom she later married. She has appeared in numerous TV movies and several feature films, including All the President's Men (1976). She gave birth to twins in 1984 -- a pregnancy that led to the introduction of Andrew (Brian Bonsall) as the newest member of the Keaton clan. Michael Gross has appeared in numerous TV movies, stage productions and feature films -- and won an Obie in 1982 for No End Of Blame. The daughter of film producer Kent Bateman, Justine Bateman began her acting career at age eleven, and made her professional theatrical debut in Journey to the Day in 1984, a play directed by her father and which also starred her younger brother, Jason. She battled anorexia and bulemia during the Eighties, and was twice nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Mallory. After Family Ties, Tina Yothers had her own short-lived talk show, The Tina Yothers Show (1991), which focused on issues of concern to teens; in 2000 she became lead singer of the band Jaded, which includes her brother Cory. Brian Bonsall went on to star in Mikey (1992) and had a recurring role in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1997).
Other stars of the sitcom included Tracy Pollan, who appeared as Alex's first serious love interest, Ellen Reed, and Courteney Cox, who for several years starred as Alex's girlfriend Lauren. (Cox had appeared in Bruce Springsteen's 1984 video for "Dancing In The Dark"; she would go on to become a major film star in such hits as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Scream.) Scott Valentine played Mallory's sweetheart, Nick Moore, an aspiring sculptor who, while a high school dropout, proved to have plenty of street smarts. Marc Price starred as Skippy Handelman, Alex's geeky friend for the show's entire run. A TV movie, Family Ties Vacation, aired in 1985. Family Ties addressed a number of serious issues -- drug addiction, racism and teen pregnancy among them; one of the most memorable episodes consisted of Alex on a darkened stage dealing with his grief at the loss of a close friend. The show ended with Alex graduating from college and, naturally, heading off to a job on Wall Street.
Tracy Pollan co-starred with Michael J. Fox in the 1988 feature film Bright Lights, Big City. They were married that same year; in 1995 Tracy gave birth to twins.
Canadian-born Michael J. Fox went to school with rock music star Bryan Adams in Vancouver, British Columbia, in the late '70s.
Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross were both born on June 21, 1947. And both of them appeared in episodes of the Michael J. Fox sitcom Spin City in 1996.
President Ronald Reagan pegged Family Ties as his favorite television show.
Pilot (9.22.82)--Steven and Elyse are horrified to discover that Alex is escorting his snobbish date to a restricted club.
Summer of '82 (10.27.82)--Alex has sex with an older woman -- a 21-year-old college student, and has difficulty coping with the realization that as far as she's concerned the relationship is just casual.
No Nukes Is Good Nukes (11.24.82)--Alex is horrified to discover that his parents have been thrown in jail for participating in an anti-nuke demonstration.
Have Gun, Will Unravel (10.8.82)--Previously ardent supporters of gun control, Elyse and Steven struggle with the pros and cons of owning a gun after their home is burglarized.
Oops (12.22.82)--Elyse gives advice to Mallory's friend Cindy, who's pregnant, but the advice backfires when Cindy's mother can't seem to cope with the news.
The Fugitive (1.19.83 & 1.26.83)--The FBI is after Elyse's brother Ned, a corporate exec -- and Alex's idol -- who has allegedly embezzled millions.
French Lessons (2/16/83)--Mallory's shy French tutor musters up the courage to ask her out -- and then makes the mistake of asking Alex for tips on how to behave on the date.
Speed Trap (11.9.83)--Cramming night after night for final exams, Alex takes diet pills to stay awake -- and becomes addicted.
A Keaton Christmas Carol (12.14.83)--The ghosts of Christmas Past and Future -- Jennifer and Mallory -- show a cynical Alex what the spirit of Christmas is all about.
Ladies Man (2.2.84)--To get a date with a pretty young feminist, Alex pretends to be a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment -- and is invited to be the keynote speaker at an ERA rally.
Working At It (5.10.84)--When she lands a job with a topnotch architectural firm, Elyse becomes so gung-ho that she begins to neglect her family.
Fabric Smarts (10.25.84)--Steve and Elyse insist that Mallory must quit her part-time job at a boutique when it causes her grades -- such as they are -- to suffer.
Don't Kiss Me, I'm Only the Messenger (11.29.84)--Alex tries to get his friend Skippy hooked up with a girl named Jane; the only problem is that Jane falls for him instead of Skippy.
Help Wanted (12.6.84)--Geena Davis guest stars as Karen Nicholson, a beautiful but thoroughly incompetent housekeeper hired as a result of Elyse's pregnancy.
Oh, Donna (1.3.85)--Alex's interest in helping a young unwed mother through her pregnancy becomes an obsession.
Cold Storage (3.7.85)--While the rest of the family is away for the weekend, Mallory gets locked in the basement with an adoring Skippy.
The Real Thing (9.26.85 & 10.3.85)--Tracy Pollan stars as Ellen Reed, a girl that Alex can't seem to get along with, but also can't seem to live without.
The Old College Try (11.7.85)--Steve and Elyse are shocked when Mallory announces she won't be going to college, and they blame her boyfriend Nick, a high-school dropout, for her decision.
Fool for Love (1.23.86)--Skippy just can't accept the fact that Mallory is in love with Nick, and creates a scene at the homecoming dance.
My Back Pages (10.16.86)--When an old friend invites Steve to help with a radical, left-wing publication, Steve discovers that his values are a lot more moderate than he'd realized.
Mrs. Wrong (11.6.86 & 11.13.86) -- When Steve and Elyse oppose the marriage plans of Mallory and Nick, the couple elope, and Alex sets out in pursuit.
My Brother's Keeper (11.20.86)--Alex must choose between his fraternity and loyalty to his friend Skippy when he learns that his frat brothers intend to make Skippy the brunt of a cruel prank.
Higher Love (1.22.87)--Nick becomes insecure in his relationship with Mallory when she becomes infatuated with a sophisticated grad student.
Band on the Run (2.26.87)--Jennifer's band, the Permanent Waves, find their popularity waning once Alex becomes their manager. Guest starring Christina Applegate and Rainbow Phoenix.
A, My Name is Alex (3.12.87)--When his friend dies in an auto accident, Alex must not only deal with his own guilt, but questions the meaning of life.
Last of the Red Hot Psychologists (9.13.87)--Courteney Cox stars as Lauren Miller, a psychology student who meets Alex while doing a study of overachievers -- and falls for him.
Citizen Keaton (11.22.97)--Alex takes charge of Mallory's campaign for student body president at Grant College.
The Play's the Thing (1.10.88)--When Elyse performs in Steve's college play at a community theater, Steve finds himself becoming jealous of her leading man and the Keaton kids are embarrassed by the play's hippie lingo.
Read It and Weep (2.7.88 & 2.14.88)--When her school bans Huckleberry Finn, the subject of her book report, Jennifer takes on the school administration in a fight against censorship.
It Happened One Night (10.30.88)--Relying on a map of ancient Greece, the Keaton kids get lost as they try to unite with their parents during a camping trip.
Heartstrings (12.4.88, 12.11.88 & 12.18.88)--In this three-parter, the Keaton family is made stronger by the crisis of Steve's heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery.
All in the Neighborhood (3.12.88 & 3.19.88)--When a black family moves in across the street, the Keatons are shocked that racism exists in their neighborhood.
Alex Doesn't Live Here Anymore (5.14.89)--When Alex announces that he's accepted a job in New York, Elyse must come to terms with her feelings of loss.