Big Foot Wallace
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.
Dressed in buckskins and sporting a brush haircut, Chuck preformed his first horsemanship on screen, and he proved that a kid from Brooklyn could really ride a horse like a Westerner! In a high-speed chase after an Indian, Connors actually rode his mount at breakneck speed while dodging arrows. This was not a studio shot of an actor sitting on a dummy in front of a rear projection―this was the real thing!
And so after the credits were rolled, on screen comes this tall actor dressed in buckskins, hat, and leaning on a flintlock rifle, who says: "Hello―my name is Chuck Connors. It's going to be my privilege to play Big Foot Wallace for the next, oh, fifty years or so―leastwise I hear tell. We're all pretty excited about this series, and I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you a little about our plans, and about Big Foot.
"Big Foot was a real and fabulous character, one of the most exciting figures in frontier history. His fight for Texas independence, his reputation as the greatest Indian fighter of his day, his career as one of the first Texas Rangers, his leadership in settling, the unknown western wilderness, made him the Paul Bunyan of the southwest, the hero of a thousand exciting stories.
"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.
"Now it's this humorous side pf Big Foot, combined with his fantastic adventures―and believe me, they were fantastic― that make us feel he's a great subject for a television series.
"Most of all we can guarantee you some real action―action the whole family will enjoy. Our stories are going to be packed with hard-hitting excitement, full of frontier lore that will please youngsters from three to ninety-three. (By this time, Chuck's face has blossomed into a huge smile!)
"Well, thanks for letting me talk to you this way. As you can tell, we're all pretty well sold on Big Foot, and we hope you let Big Foot do some selling for you."
A final c lip showed Big Foot with three youngsters clamoring for his autograph. When Chuck asked them if they liked the show, they all said in unison, "Yes, Daddy!" (This very cute scene was with his three boys, Mike Jeff, and Steve, who were about ages six, four and two, respectively, at this 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 appeared in four episodes of The Rifleman ― The Money Gun as Tom King a hired gun ― The Blowout as Al Walker a gunslinger ― 'The Baby Sitter' as Wood Bartell, a self-righteous, bigoted father. (He was Fancy's Father) ― The Prisoner as 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.
Big Foot WallaceChubby Johnson appeared in three episode of The Rifleman ― The Horse Traders as Kansas Sawyer, he originally bought the stallion, but then took it back ― The Spoiler as Mr. Avery, he was the father of The Spoiler, Bud Evans ― Guilty Conscience he was the Old Man.
My information is from
CHUCK CONNORS.....The Man Behind the Rifle — written by David Fury ~ Artist's Press — the video & the internet
Now available on Kindle..... Chuck Connors.....The Man Behind the Rifle
by David Fury
Edited version of the 1997 book, with lots of new photos, and also a complete Rifleman episode/plot synopsis guide.
"I wish to thank David Fury for all the work and consideration he has put
into this book. It truly is a great book! I really enjoyed it!"
"It is a must for all "Rifleman & Chuck Connors fans!"
*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.
Frank Thompson is an author, filmmaker, comedy writer and film historian. His most recent book is King Arthur (2004, Hyperion), a novelization based on the screenplay of the Touchstone film of the same name. It is his fourth book released since November 2003, the others being Cowboy Princess: Life With My Parents, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (2003, Taylor Pub., co-written with Cheryl Rogers-Barnett), The Alamo: A Novel (2004, Hyperion) and The Alamo: the Illustrate Story of the Epic Film (2004, Newmarket Press). To find out more please go to frankthompson.tv
FYI - from Frank—the brief Alamo footage at the very beginning of the show is stock footage from "Man of Conquest" (1939), a Republic Pictures biopic of Sam Houston starring Richard Dix. Thanks Frank.....Cowgirl!
This was repackaged as a TV movie called Invasion by Three. Thanks TVFan!
*Look at the advertisement closely. Do you see anything wrong with it?
around The McCain Ranch