7. Father and Son
Despite having a close working relationship, Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford did not keep a father-son relationship off-screen. In an interview with AMC, Crawford was asked whether he saw Connors as a father figure.
He said, “Not really. I had great respect for him and I loved working with him but he was very different off screen. He was was incorrigible; a practical joker. It was fun all the time but he wasn’t a good influence on me aside from his acting. He used a lot of four letter words and he was very imposing. He loved intimidating people. I got a kick out of him.” Now we know the real score behind the scenes.
6. Looking For Love
Being the good-looking heartbreaker that Lucas was, he had several big name actresses who played as his love interests throughout the show. Some of those names consist of world famous actresses during that time. As a widower, Lucas was open to meeting and dating different women but Milly Scott seemed to be the only one that snatched his heart.
Played by Joan Taylor, Milly Scott was the new storekeeper and one of the main love interests of Lucas. After the struggles in Lucas’s love life, while managing to raise his son and deal with the daily battles of life, producers decided it was time for Lucas to settle down, cue in Milly Scott. She was the practical, jean-wearing businesswoman who spent her inheritance on her general store where she catches the attention and heart of Lucas McCain. Milly was also a fan favorite!
5. Kevin Joseph Connors
Kevin Joseph Connors is the real man behind Lucas. He was born on April 10, 1921, a Brooklyn native who struggled through the Great Depression. Despite the struggle, his mother always managed to feed their family and Connors experienced a relatively normal childhood as an altar boy. During his spare time, he would play sandlot ball at the Bay Ridge Boy’s Club and found comfort in the wisdom he received from Bay Ridge Celtic coach John Flynn.
The Rifleman was only part of Connor’s acting legacy. He was featured in several films and TV programs throughout his long and successful acting career. But television was a huge part of his professional career. Once he knew that he wasn’t going to fulfill his dream as a professional baseball player, he dedicated himself to the Hollywood life and he had a fruitful career.
4. Career Boost and Death
There was no doubt that Chuck first loved sports and it was baseball in particular. But he was a bit disappointed when he realized that it was time to give it up. We love this quote that credits the sport with every ounce of his success in Hollywood.
“I owe baseball all that I have and much of what I hope to have. Baseball made my entrance to the film industry immeasurably easier than I could have made it alone. To the greatest game in the world, I shall be eternally in debt.”
Sadly, Chuck Connors passed away on November 10, 1992, from pneumonia, a complication from lung cancer. Although his character was only described as a smoker once on the show, Chuck was a chain smoker in his real life and finished 3 packs a day until he was in his 50’s. Apparently, after starting in 1940, it took the actor 30 years to quit but by then it was too late.
3. Losing A Mentor
Johnny considered Chuck as his acting mentor, so his loss was As an acting mentor to Johnny, Chuck’s loss affected him very much and was surreal to the younger actor. Johnny even read Chuck’s eulogy. The two remained very close over the years despite their huge age gap.
“Chuck was a great guy, a lot of fun, great sense of humor, bigger than life, and he absolutely loved people. He was very gregarious and friendly, and not at all bashful. It was a good experience for me to spend time with Chuck and learn how he dealt with people. I learned a great deal from him about acting, and he was a tremendous influence on me. He was just my hero.”