Patricia Blair nearly settled down with The Rifleman in a sixth color season — until Chuck Connors killed it
I saw this article on MeTV.com today. It's pretty interesting. I love how Patricia Blair describes Chuck Connors.
Chuck did fill out his blue jeans but I don't think Miss Blair got anything else right. I don't like the way she talked about Chuck's wife Kamala, it seems distasteful to speculate about other people's relationships. And she certainly doesn't make much sense saying that Kamala didn't want Chuck to be a cowboy because he went on to make Branded and Kamala had a recurring role on Branded as Jason's one-time girlfriend, Laurette. For what it's worth I'm glad Rifleman ended when it did. I didn't like where they were going with Mark, trying to keep him an eternal infant, and I really can't stand Lou. I skip most episodes that she's in. I will watch Mark's Rifle, Gun Shy, Conflict, and Squeeze Play and put up with Lou because those episodes are of special interest to me.
It's also sad that Miss Blair had no appreciation for Chuck's versatility as an actor. I recently acquired the series Arrest and Trial and Chuck did an amazing job in that series. It's a shame it only ran one season but it was a wonderful show. It really explored a number of aspects of the legal system and the human condition. Chuck's courtroom scenes were incredible. Yes, he wore a suit and a tie. No, he was not just a cowboy. He was a fine dramatic actor who could carry off the part of a defense attorney pleading for his client's life, even a client that was not worth saving. Chuck brought real depth and passion to the role of John Egan, an anti-death penalty attorney who had so much integrity for the law that he was even good friends with the district attorney and some of the cops.
That's so sad. but I have to agree with Zanza. I've never really like Lou and Mark always stayed a kid which is pretty sad because all kids grow up.
With a smile on my face, I wake up to a brand new day.
Yes, I think a great opportunity was missed with Rifleman. The show could have gone on for several more years if the powers that be had not gotten stuck in the rut of not letting Mark grow up. Bonanza and Big Valley had adult kids with their parent and those shows were very good shows. And Little House on the Prairie let the kids grow up and the show was better than ever. It's a shame they lost Millie, she was perfect for Luke.
Well, Chuck went on to make Arrest and Trial, and he made Branded, and Cowboy in Africa. Incidentally his wife Kamala also appeared on Cowboy in Africa (take that, Patricia Blair!) and he worked as much as he wanted for the rest of his life. I wish he hadn't been so underrated as an actor but in his later years he didn't make very good movies. I read in his biography that his only criteria for taking a role was that his price was met. And he was so hugely popular overseas that producers would pay any price to get him just so they could have his name in the movie. This is why he wound up in bad films, but he enjoyed his life very much and that's what matters.
Thanks for the article flabirder. There also is a similar story about this in David Fury's - The Rifleman, The Man Behind The Rifle.
"Keep your 'sites' on The Rifleman"
"The Rifleman hits the 'Mark' every week on abc."
A cowgirl's work is never done.
I remember Chuck in Branded but since I was only 7 when The Rifleman ended, I didn't realize the stars were the same actor. I have never seen Arrest and Trial or Cowboy in Africa. I'll have to see if they're on You Tube so I can watch them. I do agree about them not letting Mark grow up. For one thing, he shouldn't have had to wait until he was 14 before getting his first rifle. From what I've read, boys as young as 10 used rifles to shoot jack rabbits as well as foxes & other critters trying to get into the hen house & chicken coop. The closest Mark came to acting his age was in A Young Man's Fancy when he developed a crush on Millie's niece. He did a good job in First Wages until he decided to take the shortcut. I never cared for Lou Mallory either & don't think she would have been a good match for Lucas. Millie was much better suited to be Lucas' wife & she loved Mark like a son. I wonder why Joan Taylor left the series.
I read that Joan Taylor left because she was married to Leonard Freeman, the guy who created Hawaii Five-0. Joan wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and when Hawaii Five-0 started making big money, she was able to realize that dream. Considering how things worked out, it's a shame she didn't stay on until the end of the show but maybe Chuck didn't want out until Patricia Blair came along. I don't mean that as unkind as it sounds. What I mean is, they had Millie, and she was really great with Luke, but then she was gone. So they bring in another woman, like replacing a vase that got broken. No one can ever know, but I did read in Chuck's biography that he described Rifleman as a love story between a father and his son. Millie was a relationship that was developing organically. Lou was a square peg in a round hole that just got thrown in the mix. Maybe Chuck didn't like it, not Patricia Blair specifically but the idea that Luke would suddenly be on the prowl for any woman who came along after being devoted for so many years to Margaret's memory. Chuck did have good storytelling instincts. I wouldn't even call this a theory, though. I'm just wondering, because season five wasn't very good and there are only a few episodes that I watch. The writing was slipping badly and Mark was being presented as having regressed from the way he was in season four. Lot of problems, but I think Lou could have been one of them.
As to Branded, as I said, Chuck had good storytelling instincts and that show had really good writing once Chuck was more involved with the writing and Leonard Cohen went away. Branded had a very good progression, with Jason McCord being dragged wherever he went as the coward of the Bitter Creek Battle, then as time went on and he helped more people, the word went around that he wasn't so bad. Jason also went back and forth to Washington and did secret missions for President Grant, and so the military people also learned he hadn't been a coward. But his name was never really cleared. The show ended with Jason having put his army life and his bad reputation behind him; he had a nice woman that he was settling down and building a house with; she had adopted a little girl so they had a good start on a family; and Grandpa McCord (beautifully portrayed by John Carradine) had come out west to open a business with Jason and they had their sign up, McCord and McCord. The show ended just as Jason was starting his new life. Sadly it's not available on YouTube but you can buy it at Amazon.
You can also buy Arrest and Trial at Amazon and I can't recommend it highly enough. It was an amazing show, kind of an early Law and Order but much more rounded because Chuck plays John Egan, a defense attorney who is passionately against the death penalty. He's friends with the cops and also the prosecuting attorneys and while at times the courtroom drama is over the top with shouting matches that no judge would ever allow, I think the show does portray a great truth about our legal system: everyone is entitled to a vigorous defense in a court of law, no matter how awful they are or how bad their crime. Chuck was absolutely magnificent in this part.
Cowboy in Africa is not available anywhere. I did buy a set of six episodes but the picture quality was terrible, almost unwatchable. It's a shame. The show only ran for twenty-six episodes and it had some really interesting concepts, showing the early development of game ranches, the fight against poachers, and some very stark exploration of the white man in Africa. Chuck plays Jim Sinclair, an American cowboy who adopts a Kikiyu boy, and there are some problems about that. Such a good show, such a shame it's basically lost.