Here's how Hawaii Five-O ties into The Rifleman's love life
Joan Taylor left the Western — not to mention California and showbiz — to follow her husband to the Aloha State.
Lucas McCain may have been the first single father depicted on television, but it was inevitable that the Rifleman would eventually find love. This was Hollywood, after all. It took a few seasons for the widower to find a steady, though.
Early its in third season, The Rifleman sent general store owner Hattie Denton (Hope Summers) packing for hills. A young woman took over the North Fork supply store from the elder shopkeeper. Enter Milly Scott.
Joan Taylor made her debut in "Miss Milly" around the holiday season in 1960. Though sparks hardly flew the first time Lucas and Milly met (butted heads, was more like it) by the end of her first episode, the two are gazing into each other's twinkling eyes.
"Several months ago [The Rifleman had an episode] with [a] love interest in it and the reaction was good," wrote The Modesto Bee on in its Christmas 1960 edition. "So the hunt was on for a permanent member of the cast. The winner, Joan Taylor, five feet, four inches of capable young actress."
"You know," Taylor told the newspaper, "I had three interviews and then waited three or four months before they told me I was in. I was sure I missed out… The series is such a good one. That was the luckiest thing that happened to me, the way it turned out."
But, wouldn't you know it, as soon as Millie and Lucas finally kissed, in the episode "Milly's Brother," Taylor vanished from the series. It was the first and last time the characters locked lips. Lucas walked Millie home and she just… disappeared. Taylor left the "luckiest thing that ever happened" to her after a mere 18 appearances. The following season, Lucas had a new lover, Lou Mallory (Patricia Blair).
Did you ever wonder what happened to Millie?
Not only did Millie vanish from The Rifleman, Taylor seemingly disappeared from television overnight. The actress made one more appearance a few months later in an episode of 77 Sunset Strip. It was her last credit. Her screen career was over.
"I think [Joan Taylor's] husband moved — they moved to Hawaii for Hawaii Five-O," Patricia Blair said in the book Westerns Women.
Indeed, Joan Taylor left behind her acting career for her family. In fact, her real name was not Joan Taylor. Her obituary was listed in Variety under her real name, Rose Freeman. She was married to Hawaii Five-O creator Leonard Freeman.
Now, the dates do not entirely match up. Taylor left The Rifleman in 1962 and Hawaii Five-O premiered in 1968. We do know that Taylor left behind her career to raise her children — she had three daughters — and the Freemans at some point moved to Hawaii.
After her husband Leonard passed away in 1974, Rose/Joan oversaw the Hawaii Five-O property. The hit crime series ran until 1980.