Rifleman, Lawman
Chuck Connors Checks Guns, Puts Up Shingle in Series of Two-Parters

No Horsemen
New York Times September 15, 1963 By Murray Schumach
(This is a snippet from the original article)



     "Hell," he said, tossing one long leg over his office desk and another over the arm of a chair about 3 feet to the left of the desk. "Hell, I never was on my course until about a year and a half before 'The Rifleman'. I was going from one heavy to another. Then one day I said to myself: 'Why can't I be a cowboy. I'm big enough.'So I took a good look at myself in the mirror and decided to let my hair grow longer. 'Then I talked to this guy I know, a wrangler, and we went out and bought a cheap nag. This wrangler showed me how to ride. As I got better, I'd trade in the nag for a better one. That's how I became a cowboy."

     Mr. Connors, whose blue eyes had become cold and whose strong jaw can be very stubborn, changed a number of things before "Arrest and Trial" went before the camera with Frank P. Rosenberg as executive producer.

     Late last year, when Jennings Lang, who develops new productions for Revue, first suggested this series to him. Mr. Connors was to have played a part that seemed more detective than lawyer. He urged that his role be changed to that of lawyer. In mid-December he saw a script and a few days later a show was being shot. Between work on the pioneer "Arrest and Trial" he did filming on "The Rifleman." It was he recalled a very busy Christmas.

     Mr. Connors, who has impressed Hollywood with his ability to appraise business possibilities, knew he was in a good bargaining position and used it to shape this series to his taste. This business talent, he said was something he never suspected when he was playing baseball for Brooklyn Dodgers farm teams, and the Los Angeles Angels, when they were in the Pacific Coast League. In those days he was considered a sort of zany. He would yell back at the crowd or wants, when he was booed, he tossed 5 pounds of raw hamburger at the fan.
     "The day I left baseball, "I became smart. When I was in baseball -- and I was a minor leaguer most of the time, let's not kid ourselves about that -- I played for the love of the game. I'd sign any contract they gave me. But then I stopped playing and begin doing interviews with the players at the ballpark. I began to see the light."

     By this time his gregarious nature and amusing answers, had made him a sort of favorite with some Hollywood producers and directors. He began pressing for a chance as an actor. Screening tests brought him a role as police sergeant in the movie, "Pat and Mike" Subsequent films were "Old Yeller," "The Big Country," "Geronimo," "Flipper," and the recently completed "Move Over Darling".

     He still plays ball, but strictly as an amateur with his four sons by his first marriage to Elizabeth Jane Riddell. He recently married Kamala Devi, who acted with him in "Geronimo." Chuck Connors can afford to play baseball for nothing these days because he is paid much more for his acting than any baseball player in major league history.

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