Paul Fix told writers to put some respect on his character in The Rifleman

"It's important for the kids who watch that they have respect for this badge," the Marshal Micah man said.

In the season-five opener of The Rifleman, "Waste," banditos capture Marshal Micah Torrance and bury him up to his next in desert sands. It's a haunting image, one that heavily recalls the season-four opener "The Vaqueros." (Fun fact: Trackdown and I Spy star Robert Culp penned "Waste," his only writing credits for this Western.)

Of course, this being The Rifleman, Lucas and Mark come to the rescue.

This plot in particular makes us wonder what Fix thought of the plot. He had strong ideas of how Marshal Micah should be portrayed.

"All I make sure of is that the old guy [Micah] doesn't lose his dignity, that he's not made a fool of," Fix told columnist John Moore in 1961.

"I see the writers sometimes and see to that," he explained. "It's important for the kids who watch that they have respect for this badge."

Fix by that point was a grizzled veteran of Westerns. His first oater was filmed nearly three-plus decades before The Rifleman. Playing cowboy did not come naturally for the native of Dobbs Ferry, a cozy community north of New York City. Fix said that learning to rope, ride and "drawl" was "on-the-job training." 

Fix, on the other hand, found his Rifleman costar to be a natural hero. Moore wrote, "Fix thinks that Chuck Connors, with his background in pro baseball, is the closest thing since [John] Wayne to a real outdoorsman type among the stars of Westerns."

Still, Fix did not want to see the Rifleman always outshine the law. He found that Hollywood writers tended to "make saps out of city police and Western sheriffs," and would instead make the "handsome cowpoke" the knight in shining armor.

"The Rifleman has to be the star, certainly," Fix said, "but if the [marshal] is doing nothing, it has to be because he's checked in some way — by a heavy."

The baddies of "Waste" must have met his regulations for "heavies."

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trogg888 3 months ago
I think the rifleman stands out as the best of all the westerns that came out during that period,alongside of gunsmoke.most that lasted.but rifleman was the most interesting and consistent.mark getting g older hurt it quite a bit but what can you favorite of all of them,but all of them beat those lame sit coms that came out then

GTStang08 10 months ago
Alphonso: [speaking of Lucas' rifle] "It's beautiful!"...
Alphonso: [ordering Lucas to dig his own grave] "Gringo! you dig de hole...dig...DIG!!!"
Alphonso: [creeping into the old ransacked salon] "No more bullets Gringo!"
[Lucas fires a round into the ceiling] BANG!!!
Alphonso: "No more more"

GTStang08 10 months ago
I loved how Micah consoled Lucas, during one of Lucas' most reflective, remorseful, and hurtful moments in a scene from "Face of Yesterday". Micah: "...he was a man, same as you, he wanted to live, same as you. he would have killed, same as you". That's friendship in your time of need. Though will all know who did the heavy marshalling in North Fork, Micah held his own. He was a good peace officer prior to some tragic events in his earlier life, but we should focus on how he triumphed from that dusty past and what he'd become. He was like an older brother, sometimes even a father figure to Lucas, and loved Mark as one of his own. Yep, those three, Connors, Crawford, and Fix...they carried the show.
Coldnorth 33 months ago
If the bad guys did that to Lucus, they would have had a lot of digging to do. He was a bigggg and tall man
jjurban 36 months ago
‘…bury him up to his next”? Who proof reads these stories?
GTStang08 jjurban 10 months ago
lol...Yeah, really! I think someone got their twelve year old daughter to write this
trogg888 jjurban 3 months ago
Yeah it's not like spelling shouldn't be a requirement for that job
sputnik_57 36 months ago
I think the Rifleman writers were sadistic. They always show the most cruel torture and zoom in on the suffering. The criminals always seem to enjoy it.
Andybandit 36 months ago
At least he didn't fall off the wagon to much. He was a good guy, and I like his name Micah.
West1 36 months ago
We must remember that Micah Torrance was a courageous, but flawed man, who had been a broken down alcoholic in his past. He had weaknesses, which included him being a marshall who was not exactly a spring rooster. There was a slightly tarnished quality to his badge, but his wisdom restored its luster. It made up for his shortcomings, like most effective leaders.
Pdls West1 34 months ago
Very well said. Paul Fix made Micah a very human and identifiable character.
WandaBaker West1 30 months ago
So true. I loved Micah...he was as important to the show as Luke and Mark as far as I'm concerned.
glennh3365 36 months ago
I do remember an episode, though, where the Marshal was cowering inside and drinking himself into a stupor because a bully had come to town.
WandaBaker glennh3365 36 months ago
Yes, I really disliked that episode. I always said it was completely out of character for Micah. He was no coward.
CathyK glennh3365 36 months ago
There was more to it than that. Micah had an irrational fear of the "bully" because of his thick spectacles. I guess the glasses just freaked Micah out. Also, because Lucas generally took over when trouble happened, Micah lost his confidence in his ability to take care of problems himself. But let's remember, when the bully finally came to town and Lucas refused to help, Micah pulled himself together and handled it.
Lantern 36 months ago
This is a very disconcerting image.
sputnik_57 36 months ago
"and bury him up to his next in desert sands" I think the writer meant to say "neck"
birddog 36 months ago
I believe without Micah the rifleman would still be a ok show, But with him made it a great western show. Gotta have that Marshall - Right Lucas Boy..
LoveMETV22 birddog 36 months ago
I agree where would the westerns be without their supporting actors,actresses.
Wiseguy LoveMETV22 36 months ago
What makes a western good is the same as any other genre.
LoveMETV22 36 months ago
Good show. Paul Fix seemed to be a versatile actor. They portrayed him in many different ways (in general) on the series.
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