This was a rare made for TV pilot. It is not available on video and never shown on TV. [This was proposed in 1957. Had it made it, we may not have Chuck in the part of Lucas McCain aka The Rifleman] This is a story about Big Foot Wallace, a 1830's frontiersman who strangely believed in the Texas freedom fight for independence from Mexico. The pilot episode was written by Aaron Spelling and Paul Richards, with Chuck in the title role of Big Foot Wallace. Chubby Johnson was Big Foot's comic sidekick, and John Dehner (often cast as television and movie villains) was cast as the bloodthirsty Captain Digas.
The story took place shortly after the Alamo (1836). as Big Foot Wallace was part of an army of volunteers led by men like Sam Houston. The pilot episode had Big Foot and two patriots (Chubby Johnson and Albert Carrier) volunteering to blow up Santa Anna's ammunition dump in Mexico, to slow down the Mexican war effort. This three man army braved the dangers of Indians and Mexican patrols, to reach their objective of the ammo supply. Unfortunately they are captured before they can act, and dumped in prison with some other captures Texans. In charge of the Mexican outpost is Captain Digas (Dehner), who solves his problem of prison over population by executing by firing squad the losers of a most unfortunate game. It is known in history as the infamous "drawing of the black beans." This is how the Mexicans decided who would live and who would die. They provided a pitcher into which they counted 159 white beans. They then threw in seventeen black beans and passed the pitcher around for the Texans to draw in alphabetical order.
A black bean meant death, a white one assured life in prison in Mexico City. Bigfoot was one of the last to draw, and it made his chance less for drawing a white bean. Bigfoot drew a white bean. His friend Whaling was next, and Whaling drew a black bean. Then M. E. Wing drew a black bean.
The last three men did not have to draw, as all the black beans were then gone.
When Big Foot insults the captain by punching him, they fight a duel with swords, which is won by the Texas patriot. Digas is then killed by a bullet from one of his own men, as the prisoners overpower the guards, blow up the ammunition sump, and safely make their escape back to Texas.
"As for the man himself, Big Foot was simple and God-fearing, filled with a great desire to help his fellow man who loved a joke as well as a fight, and he generally able to manage both at the same time.
This promo was aimed at potential sponsors, and Chuck did a whale of a job pitching "Big Foot." He convincingly recited that entire speech by memory, and he sounded very much like he really did believe in Big Foot. For reasons unknown the series never did get off the ground and the pilot was the only episode of Big Foot Wallace ever filmed. But Chuck was now considered star material by television producers, and it would only be a matter of time until the right vehicle was found to display the considerable talents of young Mr. Connors.
I have this video and I enjoyed it very much. The pictures are from the video. They aren't the clearest, but at least I can share these with you. It even has the scene in it with Chuck's boys at the end. It is so adorable!
Piddlin stuff.....John Dehner played in four episodes of "The Rifleman" - 'The Money Gun' ~ he played Tom King a hired gun. 'The Blowout' ~ he played Al Walker [Alvin Brisbe Walker] a gunslinger. 'The Baby Sitter' ~ he played Wood Bartell a self-righteous, bigoted father. [he was Fancy's Father] 'The Prisoner' ~ he played Major Aaron King, a ex-Confederate officer who seeks revenge on Lucas. He also starred with Chuck in "Branded" ~ 'One Way Out' as Joshua Murdock, "Airplane II: The Sequel" ~ "Support Your Local Sheriff " ~ & "Bigfoot Wallace"
CHUCK CONNORS....."The Man Behind the Rifle" — written by David Fury ~ Artist's Press — the video & the internet
Now available on
Chuck Connors.....The Man Behind the Rifle
*Also Alamo fans.....Check out Frank Thompson's book on "The Alamo." "The Alamo" is an oversized hardback, with dust jacket, and contains 153 pictures, paintings, photos and illustrations, many of which are extremely rare and quite a few of which have never been published before, anywhere. The book is printed in FULL COLOR throughout. No matter how comprehensive your Alamo collection is, there will be at least a few images here that you have never seen before.
*Look at the advertisement closely. Do you see anything wrong with it?