One Rifleman episode brought together three different werewolf actors
Cinematic vampire John Carradine also guest starred as the titular "Mind Reader."
Iconic actors from the early days of cinema show up all over classic TV. As they aged out of lead roles on the silver screen, television welcomed them with open arms. Lon Chaney Jr., forever remembered as the Wolf Man from various Universal horror films, guest-starred in small-screen Westerns like Wagon Train, Rawhide, and Have Gun – Will Travel. He also appeared on The Rifleman as Charlie Gordo, one of the meanest outlaws Lucas McCain ever faced.
It turns out, Lon Chaney Jr. wasn’t the only werewolf (werewolf actor, that is) to visit North Fork. Chuck Connors himself later starred in the short-lived but aptly titled 1987 series Werewolf. Michael Landon, before becoming a household name playing Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza, starred in the 1957 movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf before appearing in two episodes of The Rifleman.
But wait, there’s more! The star of the 1956 horror film The Werewolf, Steven Ritch, also acted in one Rifleman episode. And it just so happened to be one featuring Michael Landon — meaning three different werewolf actors, including Chuck Connors, all appeared together in one Western installment.
That fateful episode is called "The Mind Reader" and also happens to be a clever whodunnit. John Carradine, another horror icon who played Dracula in the 1940s, plays James Barrow McBride — a man claiming to have magical insight into people’s thoughts. Mark is enthralled but Lucas isn't sold. When a murder in town throws suspicion on multiple characters, McBride says he can help.
Is it the young man who was seeing the victim’s daughter? Perhaps the knife salesman new to North Fork? Lucas pursues the truth and finds out if "the world’s greatest mentalist" is for real.
John Carradine, a noted scene-stealer in everything from The Twilight Zone to The Beverly Hillbillies, gives a great performance as does Michael Landon — just a few months before the premiere of Bonanza.