Chuck Connors wrote his own Rifleman story to get Lucas McCain a kiss
You might recognize this love interest from a famous Twilight Zone.
Chuck Connors wanted Lucas McCain to find love. Of the romantic kind. The writers of The Rifleman saw the show in a different way. In their minds, the Western was the story of parental love, the love of a father for his son. Still, Connors felt that Lucas needed to get out a little more. So he took matters into his own hands. The Rifleman star came up with his own episode. And in this story, Lucas would kiss a pretty woman.
Connors, a former pro athlete, only had a handful of writing credits in his long career. He came up with a few stories for The Rifleman and one for his follow-up series, Branded. "The Visitor" was his best. In this season-two episode of The Rifleman, fleshed out and turned into a screenplay by scribe William F. Leicester, a young widow comes to North Fork to seek an inheritance.
McCain falls for the beauty, Ann Dodd, who is played by Christine White. She is no mere stranger. Ann is an old friend of Lucas' deceased wife, Mark's mom. After years apart, the old acquaintances meet again and sparks fly.
"There goes wild, wild Lucas, whose hurt is very deep," Ann tells Lucas as they sit on the McCain porch in the twilight. "You know you left town without even saying goodbye?" Just when you think they will kiss, they do not.
A scene later, Lucas takes Ann back to her room. "'Course you never were a talking man, and I like that about you," she tells him. She makes the move, moving in for a kiss. As Marshal Micah Torrance watches.
White was a character actor best known for her role as a passenger beside William Shatner in the immortal Twilight Zone episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." That classic would be one of her final television roles, surprisingly.
She had just one major lead role in a series, as the female lead on Ichabod and Me, which was described as "The Andy Griffith Show set in New England." That sitcom had a tie to The Twilight Zone, believe it or not. In 1962, Rod Serling guest-starred in an episode, "The Celebrity," in what would be his first and only sitcom acting role.
But back to North Fork. Ann Dodd's time in town lasts a mere episode. The Rifleman team was reluctant to tie down Lucas for too long. Despite what Connors may have wanted. His next episode for the show, "The Actress," also centered around a woman who breezed into town and into Lucas' life. So we can see what the show might have been like under his direction.
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I do agree that Ann Dodd would have also been a sweet addition to the McCain home. Her character was a lovely woman with a borderline playful touch that appealed to Mark on one level and to Lucas on another level. I'm sure that would have been a great match. But definitely not Lou Mallory.