Patricia Blair nearly settled down with The Rifleman in a sixth color season — until Chuck Connors killed it

"I've got to tell you, in those tight blue jeans, that tight shirt, with the muscles bulging, there was no one sexier, anywhere."

Images: The Everett Collection

The Rifleman centers around a single father raising his son in the New Mexico Territory of the late-19th century. As it is an action-packed, black-and-white Western, the stories feature dust-ups, show-downs and frontier justice. But widowed cowboy Lucas McCain found time for love. And he nearly settled down in a much different, full-color version of the series.

First, let's catch up on the love life of Lucas McCain. In season three, Millie Scott (Joan Taylor) blew into North Fork and bought Hattie's general store. It happened in "Miss Millie." Taylor would appear sporadically throughout seasons three and four, showing a softer side of Lucas. Producers wanted to see the Rifleman settle down. The jeans-wearing businesswoman was just the match for rugged McCain. 

Alas, Millie bolted following season four. Enter Lou Mallory.

Patricia Blair was no stranger to playing the leading lady in Westerns. Most know her as Rebecca Boone, the wife of Daniel (Fess Parker) in Daniel Boone. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. That series kicked off in 1964, a year after The Rifleman ended.

The thing is — The Rifleman nearly didn't end. At least, it wasn't supposed to finish after its fifth and final season. A sixth season was scheduled with a bold new direction.

Paul Fix, Johnny Crawford and Patricia Blair all signed contracts for season six. The network envisioned a prestigious leap for the program — The Rifleman would expand from 30-minute episodes to full one-hour epics, and it would be presented in glorious color.

"It would have been like Bonanza," Blair explained in the book Westerns Women: Interviews With 50 Leading Ladies Of Movie And Television Westerns From The 1930s To The 1960s. Lucas and Lou would settle down together. It was all planned.

So what happened? In short, Chuck Connors said no. Blair had her theories as to why.

"Chuck walked away. He didn't want to be a cowboy anymore. He went into [1963 ABC legal drama] Arrest and Trial which was not greatly successful," Blair said. "He married Kamala Devi, an actress from India, and she somehow didn't want him to be a cowboy anymore. I think somewhere it came from that."

Blair had thoughts on why Arrest and Trial flopped, too. "I've got to tell you, in those tight blue jeans, that tight shirt, with the muscles bulging, there was no one sexier [than Chuck Connors], anywhere," she gushed. "But when he got into the suit on Arrest and Trial, a lot of it got lost in the suit. He was the Rifleman. He just was. He was the part."

Decades later (Westerns Women was published in the late Nineties), the loss of The Rifleman still stung. "It was a dreadful blow," Blair admitted. "You're looking at the house payments, and you think you've got it made."

Don't worry, we are pretty sure Daniel Boone took care of her nicely enough. In fact, for a time, Blair was living in a 60-foot boat berthed in Playa Del Rey.

Watch The Rifleman on MeTV!

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MichaelGibson 20 days ago
The Rifleman was far and away the best western. After that, I think Wanted Dead or Alive, Maverick and Big Valley. Have Gun Will Travel was also very good and so was the Lone Ranger.
JamesCavender 1 month ago
Well Chuck went on to the Western Branded in 1965. It was a VERY well written good show and still enjoy seeing the reruns. That show lasted 2 years and went to color in second season. So he did return to the old west!
starrmervine 1 month ago
Wow, I’m blown away by your comments about my tv fiasco. It’s been 2weeks without my beloved tv... I can’t believe how hooked I am on the tube. I am low income budget and will have to wait for the perfect deal. 32”is fine. So far I have learned to listen to npr news on my tiny radio and watch movies on my computer. It definitely isn’t the same but until I’m comfortable with my finances I will make it work. Let’s see, Clint Eastwood said improvise, adapt and overcome so let’s just say I am putting it into practice. I’ll keep you posted and hopefully be back to my favorite shows soooooooon!!! Thanks for your interest 😎🙃👋
texasluva starrmervine 1 month ago
Sad situation without a beloved tv and various movies, TV shows etc. Here is whatcha gonna do in the mean time.
1. Download Pluto TV. It's free. It has a whole running TV section of scheduled movies, tv shows, weather, huge music section. Then on top of that it has a on demand section of 1000 movies. TV shows (episodes and all). Classic movies, horror, westerns, comedy and any type you can think of (yes those too). You can watch via phone, tablet and computer. Cast to your tv (when you get one). Video and sound great (use you bud, wireless headphones) 💁‍♂️🎶🎵.
2. YouTube. Has 1000 movies that are public domain and many episodes of TV shows.
3. Netflix is around $12 a month.
There are other options you might look into. This is just to help get the ball rolling per say.
starrmervine texasluva 1 month ago
Thanks for the info... I appreciate it!
Try old time radio shows. There is everything from Gunsmoke to Our Miss Brooks to Perry Mason. Good to listen to in bed.
Christopher 1 month ago
"Chuck walked away. He didn't want to be a cowboy anymore." Not quite, the 6'6" Chuck Connors went on to star in the NBC TV western series "Branded" that ran from 1965-1966. "Scorn was the one who ran. What do you do when you're branded, and you know you're a man. Whatever you do for the rest of your life, you must prove you're a man."
tadlem 1 month ago
When I think of Chuck Conners, the one thing that does NOT cross my mind is how sexy he is. lol
RoberttheWallace 1 month ago
I always enjoyed " The Rifleman "--growing up in the '60s, it was a deep favorite, along with the Iconic " Rawhide " { as far as Westerns were concerned }. I reflect on one " Married With Children ", where light women bashing was going on--and he was watching " The Rifleman ". . .
commented that Connors was blasting his overbearing wife with that shooting opening sequence [ ha ha ]; well, that's Al Bundy for ya!
PaulRoupe 1 month ago
Watching Rifleman now! And always watch on weekdays too! Saturdays start really early for me around 3:30 - 4:00 a.m.! Channel surf until 6 then start with Bat, Trackdown, Have Gun, Maverick, Wagon Train--then skip Big Valley-(never have been a fan of that) then Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Wanted Read or Alive (and also have the movie loosely based on this with Rutger Hauer as a grandson of Josh) and the Rifleman! Followed by THe Good The Bad and The Stoopid ( 3 Stooges)!
What's wrong with Big Valley? Best western on TV after Maverick. Helped my Dad when he had Alzheimer's. And I was lucky enough to meet Lee Majors and tell him that. He took his time with me so I could tell him that. He is just the sweetest person and so is his wife Faith. And Lee said that was his favorite show to work on. If your going to have a western day you might as well watch them all you might change your mind. Your missing one of the best shows there are plus Barbara Stanwyck the Queen.
Deese MaryEllenRudsit 1 month ago
Big Valley was underrated. My fav TV Western. It turned out to be an all star cast. Stanwyck was already the Queen but yuoung Linda Evans and Lee Majors went on to greater fame on their own. And the women were easily the best dressed on TV - just beautiful
Angela MaryEllenRudsit 1 month ago
The BIg Valley, along with The Virginian, remain my two favorite Westerns of all time! They had good stories and excellent guest stars. The BV episode- "The Death Merchant" - with James Whitmore (actually he was in two eps and both were great) are utterly memorable and hold up incredibly well.
MikefromJersey Angela 1 month ago
Hi Angela,
You might like to know James Drury's family motto, passed down from his rancher grandfather:
"If it’s not true don’t say it. If it’s not yours don’t take it and if it’s not right don’t do it. That embodies the philosophy of ‘The Virginian,’” Drury said.
Some people in DC could benefit from that.
MichaelHollander 1 month ago
I Highly enjoyed watching the Rifelmen and watching Jonny Crawford Grow UP... From 1958-
1964.
1958-'63. 168 episodes.
MichaelMurphy 1 month ago
Season six would have been a killer. I loved this show. It has everything that makes a good western. All I can say is if. But it was never meant to be.
SteveThames 1 month ago
Can’t stand Rman but lived branded; one of the great themes
savoycheer 1 month ago
I never liked the Rifleman back then and still don't like it today. Just couldn't but into that scenario. Unfortunately, it comes on every afternoon here, but I make sure to miss it. Sick and tired of it. It's been played to death. It's past time to run other shows we haven't seen in decades.
KathrynJordan 1 month ago
I still like The Rifleman. Love the reruns. don't think I would have liked it in color. The black and white made it really good. I really liked the loving relationship of Lucas and Mark; not sure I would have wanted Lucas to marry.
marthome 1 month ago
When I saw The Rifleman walk down that street in Norfolk firing his rifle, I was in love. I was 8 yrs old. At 70 I've never seen a man that looked so sexy. ♥️♥️♥️
TomBurkhart marthome 1 month ago
Northfork? I think.
trybriguy 1 month ago
I didn't like the Rifleman, he was not a muscle man, as a matter of fact, he didn't have much of a build at all. also, I thought the show lacked reality. I mean, come on, all the sharrif did was rely on Lucas to run the town. Every time there was a problem, lucas came out of nowhere to cover the sharrif butt. And did lucas ever run a farm? I saw him a couple times fixing a fence but, he wasn't a farmer by no stretch of the imagination!!! And some of the things he did with that rifle was just too funny, I was raised by a gun dealer and have lived around guns all my life, no way could Lucas do some off the things he did in that show. Sorry, not a big fan of this show!!!
marthome trybriguy 1 month ago
Really ♥️♥️♥️ I still think he's the bee's knees ♥️♥️♥️
savoycheer marthome 1 month ago
Well of course you would, you're not a guy.
NorthRidge trybriguy 1 month ago
Well, there were some episodes when the Sheriff did not need help. Actually, Micah was a Marshal.
Angela trybriguy 1 month ago
He had a baseball player's build. Not surprising, since he played baseball. I prefer that to today's style of gym-created abs.
Edward 1 month ago
Muscles "bulging" ? He always looked like he needed a couple of Italian beef sandwiches w/ extra green peppers. That and MANY visits to the weight room. Get real here.
robert Edward 1 month ago
Former star center for the Boston Celtics and slugging first baseman for the Chicago Cubs before he went into acting. Recently saw him on a Gunsmoke episode where he gave Matt all he could handle in a fist fight. Matt prevailed of course. Got a lot of mean spirited roles such as in Roots.
TheDavBow3 Edward 1 month ago
Chuck seems to have more of a swimmer's physique.
texasluva Edward 1 month ago
Connors is hardly flabby, overweight slouch. He is here with Doris Day and James Garner in a movie in 1963. At age 42 he is in very good shape. Who here looks this good at any age?
Balogna 1 month ago
Chuck Connors didn't stay out of Westerns long. In 1965 he starred in Branded, playing a court-martialed cavalry Captain; it only lasted one season. I wish he had stayed with the Rifleman series.
MaryMitch Balogna 1 month ago
Great theme song!
Deevah 1 month ago
I loved Rhe Rifleman. I wish it had continued in color but I wouldn’t have wanted Lucas married. I preferred him single & living alone with his son. Those two had such a loving relationship.
savoycheer Deevah 1 month ago
Hey, it was tv remember.
MichaelSkaggs 1 month ago
Once I liked Patricia Blair on "Daniel Boone". Then I read an interview with Veronica Cartwright, who played the daughter, Jemima, on the show. Following the second season, Patricia Blair went to the network and complained that Veronica was "making her look too old" because they wanted to have Jemima have more coming of age stories, losing her first love, ect. There were some other options they could have used, like 1) holding Miss Blair to her contract and suing her, 2) holding her to her contract and not using her, it meant she couldn't work anyplace else. To an actor or actress, that is like death for a career. 3) or they could have just said, "Miss Blair, good luck on your next series".
Wiseguy MichaelSkaggs 1 month ago
Yeah, I was going to write about that as well. Makes you lose respect (or whatever respect you may have) for an actor when you read how they act on set. By the way, it's etc.=et cetera.
I just saw Patricia Blair on a My 3 Sons episode. Pretty lady. Once again, they have Frd MacMurray going out with a girl young enough to be his daughter. Good for him! 😉😊 But that's ok. Great guy, great show
Unless you've heard Patricia Blair's side of the story you really don't have the entire truth about what really happened. There's Veronica's side, Patricia's side and the actual truth runs down the middle between the two stories. Don't be so quick to hang somebody.
texasluva 1 month ago
Chuck Connors what a man and what a TV series that millions loved and watched. Though he was married 3 times he had 3 sons (around Johnny Crawford's age that visited the set and had time with him). One of the more interesting stories about Chuck was his meeting with Leonid Brezhnev giving Connors a surprise bear hug in 1973. He loved the Rifleman and his meeting with Connors was something else. Chuck Connors, who then lifted the Soviet leader clear off the ground.

When Brezhnev met Connors he told him through his interpreter how big a fan he was of his work in particular his cowboy series. Connors smiled, shook Brezhnev’s hands warmly and said he would like to present him with a matching pair of Colt .45 revolvers on behalf of everyone who worked on The Rifleman.

The next day, a photo op was organised (natch..) for Connors to present Brezhnev with his Colt .45s. The Soviet President was delighted. Connors showed him how to twirl the pistols like a real gunslinger while Brezhnev told the actor he must come to the U.S.S.R. and make a cowboy movie.

Later, when Brezhnev was making his way to his plane, he spotted the tall lanky Connors standing among the crowd of well-wishes. Brezhnev ran across the tarmac and jumped into the actor’s arms who briefly lifted him off the ground. The image went global. It featured on the cover of some 1600 newspapers (apparently). This wasn’t just a hug of admiration, it became a symbol of the freedom American culture seemed to offer the world and the inevitable undoing of the U.S.S.R.

I guess it would have been something if The Rifleman continued for another year or two in color.


TheDavBow3 1 month ago
That would have been real neat to see an hour long colorized Rifleman!
Wiseguy TheDavBow3 1 month ago
Then people would either complain that the hour episodes were boring (like The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Hour, etc.) or that the color episodes weren't as good (like The Andy Griffith Show).
TheDavBow3 Wiseguy 1 month ago
Yeah, very true
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