Here's what Paul Fix thought about the transition from silent films to television

Fix made the transition to television look easy.

The Rifleman's Paul Fix moved to Hollywood during the heyday of silent films in the mid-1920s. He appeared in around 16 silent films, some of which had notable names such as The Last Frontier (1926), The Iron Horse (1924) and Don Juan (1926).

He had been working in Hollywood for 41 years prior to his role as Micah Torrance in The Rifleman in 1958. Silent films were his world, and he was great at it.

So, when the era of silent films were replaced by television shows and motion pictures, Fix had to find a new avenue. Luckily, the Western world welcomed him with open arms. And although he never reached top billing, Fix played some of the best names known in American media. 

According to a 1961 interview with The Courier-Post, Fix got his first big break when he got into theater with Walter Brennan and Charles Farrell. He then graduated into touring shows. 

With his career based in small parts and silent films for years before The Rifleman, it left many wondering, including Fix himself, how he could handle the transition from silent films to television.

"It wasn't difficult for me because of my theater background," Fix said. "It was fun when we did make the transition - everybody projecting his voice. It was disastrous for some of the actors - their voices just didn't match their silent screen personalities. The first talkie I did was Gary Cooper and Fay Wray in 1928 called The First Kiss. We started filming it in silent and the last half was talkie. That's how fast the transition came - everybody wanted to get on the bandwagon."

According to the interview, his favorite roles before The Rifleman included Nancy Kelly's father in The Bad Seed (1956) and Elizabeth Taylor's father in Giant (1956). Both roles helped him prepare for his role in the Western. 

When Fix did make the full transition into television he was only signed on to do six episodes of The Rifleman. However, as we know, his role played a much bigger part in the Western series. 

"It's a very happy show to work with," Fix said. "Chuck is quite reminiscent of John Wayne at that age. I think he's the logical person to step in Wayne's shoes. He has all the qualities Wayne had at that age and he's a better actor than Wayne was at Chuck's age. And Johnny Crawford is just a wonderful little boy - a good actor and a little gentleman."

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6 Comments

tootsieg 1 day ago
Very interesting. I did not know his career went as far back to silent movies.
lovemydog2024 1 month ago
I liked Paul Fix in one episode of Emergency
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Great insight and excellent photo choice, MeTV! Thanks for sharing (-:
PDCougar 1 month ago
Wow. Very odd to wrap one's head around the idea that somebody from the originally intended cast members of Captain Kirk's crew in "Star Trek" (for one episode) worked in silent films!
Irish 1 month ago
I remember The Bad Seed and even purchased the DVD. I also enjoyed watching Paul Fix in Perry Mason. But I liked his Western characters best.
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justjeff 1 month ago
"So, when the era of silent films were replaced by television shows and motion pictures, Fix had to find a new avenue." Hmmm... replaced by television shows and motion pictures... As far as I know, silent films *were* motion pictures... then came *talking* pictures - motion pictures WITH sound... and *then* came television...

I'm beyond wisecracks after reading some of the drivel the writers come up with...
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