Chuck Connors and the Cowboy Hall of Fame
The actor was inducted just before he passed away
Chuck Connors was, famously, quite the athlete. However, despite his sporting achievements, Connors was inducted as a member into a more unexpected Hall of Fame. Not the NFL or MLB, but the Cowboy Hall of Fame boasts Connors as one of its most esteemed inductees. The actor was inducted into the Oklahoma City facility in February of 1991 for his work on TV's The Rifleman.
The Cowboy Hall of Fame is one of the exhibits within the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in the Persimmon District of Oklahoma City. It is, reportedly, America's "premier institution of Western history, art, and culture." The attraction features three separate Halls of Fame. The first, the Hall of Great Westerners honors real cowboys of the American frontier. The Hall of Great Western Performers, of which Connors was an inductee, honored the "reel" cowboys of the American stage and screen. Finally. the Rodeo Hall of Fame "perpetuates and enriches facets of this Western heritage," according to the Museum's website.
When Connors was inducted in 1991, he was joined by fellow nominees James Drury and Former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater. Drury was famous for starring in the TV series The Virginian, in which he played the title role. Drury also appeared in cinematic Westerns like Ride the High Country. Goldwater, of Scottsdale, Arizona, was also a historian of Western lore and was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners for his time and work spent with Navajo and Hopi Native American reservations.
Luckily for Western fans everywhere, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum gave Chuck Connors his flowers while he could still smell them. Too often, we lose the people who painted our dreams before we can thank them. At 71, Connors was able to accept his rightful place in this monument to the American West and the cowboys who brought it to life.
Chuck Connors passed away less than a year after the ceremony. The Hall of Fame induction was one of the actor's final public appearances before succumbing to lung cancer just a few months later.