Chuck Connors said that he was almost the ''Boris Karloff of TV Westerns'' before he starred in ''The Rifleman''

"Now everything has changed."

If you've only seen Chuck Connors in The Rifleman, you might think he was destined to play the role of the hero. However, those who are a bit more familiar with his career know a bit better than that. You see, before he was Lucas McCain, Connors appeared in a series of particularly villainous roles.

In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Connors spoke of his character, Buck Hannassey in the 1958 film, The Big Country. Connors said, "I was the most miserable, despicable, low down, rotten-to-the-core renegade you ever saw."

And the sort of characters Connor portrayed in television weren't terribly different from those bad guys he'd played in film. In fact, Connors noted, "As for television. Wow! For a while there, I was almost the Boris Karloff of TV westerns." 

However, Connor marked the beginning of The Rifleman as a turning point in his career. He stated, "Now everything has changed. I'm the Rifleman. I'm the good guy, and I hope to stay that way."

During the development of the series, Connors actually had a say in the creation of Lucas McCain, a character that both he and the show's producers were adamant about keeping human and fallible. O'Connor said, "We made him a legendary figure with feet planted in reality."

Connors was also keen to keep the father-son relationship between Lucas and son Mark as the undercurrent of the show. He said, "We established the forgotten fact that there is such a thing as a warm relationship between father and son. It happens all over the world. Our background was the West. Put them together and you have The Rifleman."

Ultimately, what directly led to The Rifleman's massive success was Connors' assurance that he'd not only enjoy the series as an actor but as a viewer as well. He commented, "What we are going to do is bring you a type of show WE will enjoy seeing."

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Irish 4 months ago
The only role Chuck played that I found repulsive was Tom Moore in Roots (1977). He was nominated for an Emmy for his role. He was an exceptional actor and I loved his Western series overall.
cperrynaples Irish 4 months ago
He played a crazed killer in a movie whose title I can't remember and his last role was on Werewolf, an early FOX series where he was also bad!
KJExpress cperrynaples 4 months ago
Was it "Tourist Trap?" I saw part of that on tv once and he was a real creep.
cperrynaples KJExpress 4 months ago
That's proably right!
Runeshaper 4 months ago
Chuck Connors was good in every role I've ever seen him in (-:
LoveMETV22 4 months ago
Thank You MeTV Staff for the Stories and Quizzes you provide daily! For a free website you don't seem to run out of spins on the series you air! Just a message of appreciation. Your hard work is noticed and appreciated!
cperrynaples 4 months ago
Did Bela Laghosi tell him he wasn't good enough to smell his [BLANK]...LOL! I believe he was sorta a con man on Gunsmoke!
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