SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN star Lee Majors' plans to play the caring ex to his estranged wife Farrah Fawcett backfired - when he accidentally set her up with Ryan O'Neal.

Majors and Fawcett were separated at the dawn of the 1980s when he took pal O'Neal round to her home to play racketball, and then insisted O'Neal took Fawcett out to dinner while he was working in Canada.

In a new American TV special, INTIMATE PORTRAIT, O'Neal and Fawcett, who enjoyed a 17-year romance until they split in 1997 and had a son together, reveal the bizarre sequence of events that led to their first date.

The actress says, "I met Ryan when Lee brought him by the house and Lee and I had separated and he had moved out of the house, but I had a racketball court. So they came to play racketball."

O'Neal admits he was immediately drawn to Fawcett, but he spent their first meeting trying to persuade the couple to stick together.

He recalls, "I was very encouraging - 'You two are great together. Come on and give it (getting back together) a try.'

"Then, I was getting in my car and he (Majors) said, 'I'm going up to Canada tomorrow. Call her will you, for me... She's going to be lonely. Take her to dinner.'"

27/08/2004 09:13