How exactly did ''Chuck'' Connors get his nickname? It's complicated.

The Rifleman actor, born Kevin, has contrasting origin stories behind his more famous first name!

The Everett Collection

We can admit when we are wrong. Well, mislead. Okay, maybe just confused. 

In the past, we have told you that Chuck Connors, star of The Rifleman, earned his nickname on the baseball diamond. 

Wait, let's back up. Did you know "Chuck" was not his real name? He was born Kevin Connors. Did you know he played pro baseball? Yep. For the Dodgers and Cubs (and in the minors for Montreal). 

While it is true that Connors took the name "Chuck" while he was playing ball, the specific origin behind the nickname is, well, contested.

As we reported, Connors ended up choosing the name "Chuck" because when he played first base at Seton Hall University, he would yell to the pitcher, "Chuck it to me, baby, chuck it to me!" The source of this explanation is none other than his younger sister, Gloria, who told that tale in a 1997 biography of her brother. But that tale might be as tall as 6' 6" Chuck himself.

While researching Chuck's baseball career, we came across a juicy, saucy piece on the athlete from 1949. Baseball writer Harold C. Burr gave a colorful profile of Connors as the slugger was making the leap from the minors to the big time for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Even then, the article paints Connors as an entertainer, long before he entertained the idea of becoming an actor. The headline itself described the jock as a "revival of Vaudeville" due to his silly nature on the field. Burr calls him a "comedian of the game," in fact.

The journalist pondered if Connors was too frolicsome for the Big Leagues. "He treats the whole serious business of being a Dodger too lightly," Burr grumbled.

Oh, throughout the article, Burr calls him "Kevin." And that brings us to the fascinating bit.

"The players call him Chuck, after the old Bowery character of the same name," Burr explains. "But this Chuck Connors doesn't go in for the blue jacket with the pearl buttons and the derby hat that made the original famous."

The "original" referred to here is "Chuck" from The Bowery Boys, the fictional gang of tough New York guys who became a film franchise in the 1940s. David Gorcey portrayed Chuck. That's him up top in 1948's Smugglers' Cove.

Considering the pre-fame explanation of this nickname, we are inclined to believe the Bowery Boys link. Gloria's story sounds more like, well, a fun myth. Sorry, sis. 

Wait, what did Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors himself say? How did Chuck get the name Chuck?

"I gave it to myself," Connors told the New York Daily News in 1949. "I like it." 

Whatever the case, the fact is "Chuck" Connors took several years to get used to his new name.

In a 1961 "Short Circuits" gossip column, there was a great anecdote:

There was a great deal of confusion on The Rifleman set recently when Joe Lewis, directing "The Shattered Idol," called out "Kevin!" Both guest star Kevin McCarthy and Chuck Connors looked around.

We wonder if he would have turned his head for "Aloysius".

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Baysharx 29 months ago
You can purchase a picture of the 1947 Mobile Bears, including their first-baseman Kevin Connors.
ArtBarnes 34 months ago
You are incorrect. Leo Gorcey never played a character named "Chuck Conners". In the Bowery Boys, he was know as "Slip Mahoney".
Marilynwheeler 34 months ago
Maybe someone is just an ASS!
The person who responded to your text was just too nice to say so.
Joe1954 35 months ago
I only remember two Gorcey's. Leo, who played Satch, and his dad, who played Louie. And I'm wondering if Leo was one of the hosts on the Popeye Show out of Detroit during the Fifties.
Tarakian10 36 months ago
I would like read a story about Chuck Conner's arrest in the 1960's. He was arrested for "peeping tom" by the Los Angeles Police. All of this while being drunk. His career nearly died, but he quit drinking and kept acting.
F5Twitster 36 months ago
“We can admit when we are wrong. Well, mislead. Okay, maybe just confused.”

That’s MISLED.

Okay, maybe somebody’s just miseducated.
Joe1954 F5Twitster 35 months ago
Either would be correct. Mislead is just present tense, while misled is past tense.
JERRY6 Joe1954 30 months ago
misead is the bullet missed you
ScoobyDoo169 36 months ago
I think maybe he was called that because of a combination of all the stories or for just different reasons. People called him that probably because of the show, how he was on the feild, and because he called himself that.
JHP 36 months ago
I used to watch it when I was kid - its ok

nowadays the networks are saturated with westerns so even rib eye steak after 5 days gets tiring
retardoish 36 months ago
how do I watch MeTV live programming from this web page.
Catman1968 retardoish 36 months ago
You don't
JeffPaul76 36 months ago
That's a lot of info I didn't know about Chuck Connors, Thanks MeTV!! If your information is correct, that is.
justjeff 36 months ago
from Wikipedia re: David Gorcey:

"Gorcey was born in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York, the son of Josephine (née Condon) and Bernard Gorcey. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant and his mother was an Irish Catholic immigrant. and entered the entertainment business at a young age. He appeared in vaudeville during his childhood, and eventually made it to the stage and screen.

When Gorcey was 10 years old, he was signed by Vitaphone studio to portray Sam in the one-reel film One Good Deed.

He is not usually thought of as one of the "original" Dead End Kids, but he did have a small role in the 1935 Broadway production of Sidney Kingsley's Dead End. During his time as a cast member of Dead End, Gorcey helped secure a role for his older brother Leo, who ultimately became a star while Gorcey remained a supporting character.

Although not in the movie Dead End (1937), Gorcey was eventually cast in Universal Pictures' Little Tough Guys, an offshoot of the Dead End Kids. He later joined brother Leo in Monogram Pictures' East Side Kids and The Bowery Boys series. For five years he was credited as "David Condon" (or in one instance, "David Conden"), using his mother's maiden name to avoid accusations of nepotism. During World War II he served in the US Army. He reverted to his real name in 1957. He occasionally appeared apart from the gang, in such films as Sergeant Madden (1939), The Babe Ruth Story (1948), and Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950)."
Mike 36 months ago
When Chuck Connors was property of the Chicago Cubs, he spent some time with their #1 minor league affiliate - the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.
That's how Chuck got into movie acting: lots of movie people saw Angel games at LA's Wrigley Field, and the big guy got noticed quite a bit.

Yeah, there was a Wrigley Field in LA: the family built it as a reduced replica of the Chicago original.
In fact, whenever you see a ballpark in a Hollywood movie from the '50s, it was usually filmed at Wrigley Field West.
ncadams27 Mike 36 months ago
The major league LA Angels played a season there. You can win a bar bet by saying the “LA Angels played at Wrigley Field” and see if anyone wants to disagree with you.
jholton30062 Mike 36 months ago
The show "Home Run Derby" was filmed there...
harlow1313 36 months ago
When I was a kid in the sixties, we liked to sing "The Name Game," especially when some clever fellow would go, "Let's do Chuck!"
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