Chuck Connors thanked television for the end of his typecasting
It was his relatability to viewers that earned Connors more roles than just one.
Typecasting plagues many actors, especially those who play unique or well-known characters. Typecasting places some actors into a box that is hard to escape from.
Actors such as Adam West, known for his role as Batman in Batman '66 and Leonard Nimoy, known for playing Spock in Star Trek: TOS were just two of the many classic television stars who fell victim to typecasting.
However, Chuck Connors could never be put into a box — it just wasn't in his character.
Even though he was great at playing the role of a Western character, his ability to act and his versatility led him to other roles that didn't fit the category of "Old West."
The rugged former baseball player turned professional actor played the role of Lucas McCain on The Rifleman for a total of five seasons.
The Rifleman followed the story of a widowed rancher and his son Mark McCain. He was a skilled marksman with a strong moral code and was a great single dad.
Although it was hard to imagine Connors in any other role but Lucas McCain, he thanked television for ending typecasting in a 1958 interview with Ledger-Enquirer.
"When theater movies were Hollywood's only business, typecasting was a rigid affair," Connors said. "You did a certain type of role at one studio that maybe got you a little extra attention, and that's the sort of role you played from then on, not only at that studio but at any other studio that might hire you."
Of course, there were a few exceptions to Connors' theory; Clint Eastwood, Julie Andrews and William Shatner were some of the actors who broke through their initial typecasting barriers.
Connors said production companies started making hundreds of half-hour television series and there was a big need for many actors which lead to a variety of roles instead of just one kind.
"The change in typecasting is this: You're still typed with certain TV studios, but only because of the nature of the programs they make. Naturally, I'm typed as a cowboy character by any of the Westerns, but that doesn't prevent me from playing a leading man on a Loretta Young show, or a comedy role for some other series, or a straight modern drama for someone else."
Connors' character wasn't a professional cowboy, police officer or gunslinger even — he was a regular rancher who helped prevent harm to his son. It was his relatability to viewers that awarded Connors with more roles than just one.
"If you have any versatility at all, you get a chance to use it, thanks to television," Connors said. "Sure, they still have typecasting in Hollywood, but it's a different kind now and better for the actor, and I think television is to be thanked for that."