Chuck Connors ignored all advice on acting in a Western series

Everyone wanted him to listen to some very important advice, but Connors didn't want to hear it.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Chuck Connors was one of the best Western stars to ever hop on a horse. It's hard to believe that before The Rifleman premiered in 1958, Connors was receiving advice to stay away from the Western world.

Obviously, he didn't listen.

"'Don't do it, Chuck, Westerns are going to be glut on the market,'" Connors said in a 1958 interview with Corpus Christi Times. "'You'd be crazy to do your own TV Western.'"

That very earnest advice was given to the ex-baseball player who didn't take it but instead made The Rifleman one of the most well-beloved Westerns to air on television. He proved everyone wrong by not only starring in a hit-Western, but being really good at playing a Western star.

"I think we have a high-quality show, but it isn't as good as all that," Connors said. "The answer must be that the audience really likes Westerns, no matter how many of them are on the air."

Of course, Connors didn't know what a success the series would be then, but he did his best to try and play the part to the best of his ability. 

Connors played the role of Lucas McCain, a single father with a young son who was seeking land in the West. Once he realized he wanted to be in a Western, Connors had one thing left to do: Become a cowboy.

"There were two things wrong with me," Connors said in a 1958 interview with The Columbian. "I had a crew cut and I'd never been on a horse. I did something about it. I let my hair grow and I shopped around for a horse."

One must learn to ride a horse before accepting the full responsibility of being an Old West hero. Connors did end up buying a horse, a $50 horse to be exact, and he became pretty good at riding him too.

According to the article, Connors learned to do everything for the horse all by himself. From cleaning him, to taking care of his medicial needs and saddling him when he was ready to ride; Connors was starting to play the part in real life. 

With his dedication to the role, Connors left a legacy in the Western world. He was the true defintion of a Western hero, a man who in real life, defined and designed his own career. He took his own advice, and it was absolutley right. 

"It's a nice feeling and it's a nicer feeling because I know we have an upbeat Western instead of a downbeat Western," Connors said. "But no one will catch me getting cocky."

Said just like a true man of the west.

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2 Comments

GTStang08 6 months ago
Chuck first got some of his riding experience while filming the hit movie "Big Country". That really prepared him for all the takes on "The Rifleman". He and Johnny were both cut out for the job. Love the show!
Runeshaper 7 months ago
Buying a horse and taking up the responsibility to learn all that he did really shows dedication. Way to go, Chuck!
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