Buddy Hackett was four years younger than his “son” on The Rifleman

What a difference a beard makes!

Comedian Buddy Hackett, hilarious star of favorites like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Music Man, never shied away from the occasional dramatic role.

One such part was in a 1959 episode of The Rifleman, his first of two appearances on the classic western. In “Bloodlines,” Hackett played the father of three rowdy young men who trash the North Fork saloon. When Marshal Torrance and Lucas McCain arrive to restore order, one of the cowboys accidentally shoots his brother and blames it on Lucas.

Hackett’s character, Daniel Malakie, breaks his two surviving sons out of jail and vows to get revenge against Lucas.

Hackett goes against type as the seemingly nice but ultimately ruthless Malakie, sporting a beard and an attitude about as different from his usual goofball characters as could be.

Perhaps the facial hair is what inspired Hackett’s somewhat unusual casting. The “boys” he was supposed to be the father of were actually around his same age. In fact, one was even four years older!

Character actor Christopher Dark, who was in everything from My Three Sons to Cannon, played oldest son Ben Malakie. He was born in 1920, making him 39 when the episode aired. Hackett was only 35! Warren Oates, who played second son Jud Malakie, was 31.

Though a little unorthodox, the casting works thanks to the acting of all three. While Hackett is certainly not an old man in the episode, without knowing everyone’s true ages, it’s easy to think he could be the patriarch of this raucous western clan.

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MarkSpeck 43 months ago
Several years later, Hackett would appear in an episode of another Western from the same producers, The Big Valley.
texasluva 43 months ago
Lorne Greene born 1915. Pernell Roberts and Dan Blocker both born in 1928. So ole Lorne had them both at age 13?

Amy Poehler 7 years older then her child Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls.

Harrison Ford and Sean Connery 12 years age difference

Miriam Colon clearly was too young to believably be the mother of Al Pacino, since she was only 4 years older.

Sally Field 10 years older then Tom Hanks

Mary Steenburgen and Will Ferrell 14 year age difference

Allison Janney acted as the mom to Melissa McCarthy (11 years between them), and Susan Sarandon, the head matriarch, had a 24-year age gap to her granddaughter. Boy they having em young now days
MrsPhilHarris texasluva 43 months ago
Angela Lansbury was only 3 or 4 years older than Laurence Harvey when she played his mother in The Manchurian Candidate.
texasluva MrsPhilHarris 43 months ago
Oh that's right. I remember that movie. Both Lansbury and Henry Silva still alive in their 90's. Thrilling movie.
daDoctah texasluva 43 months ago
Jessie Royce Landis was only eight years older than her "son" Cary Grant when they made "North by Northwest". Sally FIeld only ten years older than *her* son Tom Hanks in "Forest Gump".
Jeremy 43 months ago
They did the exact same thing on The Golden Girls when they casted Estelle Getty as the mother of Bea Arthur, who was a year older. I think they also did it on a 1950s sitcom that featured Florence Halop. I can't think of the name of it right now.
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