Joan Taylor Brings Romantic Interest to 'The Rifleman' Series
by Pat Morrison

The Modesto Bee, Sunday December 25, 1960

Joan Taylor & Chuck Connors - The Rifleman
Chuck Connors will be getting on advice on everything from potato peeling to how to raise a son if Joan Taylor as Milly Scott has her way on The Rifleman.  Milly, the hard working owner of the general store, adverse to shocking the local towns people by wearing jeans or nagging everyone for their overdue bills.

In case you haven't noticed things have changed around North Fork these days. For a month now. Lucas McCain, the tall rangy of the Rifleman series has come up against a situation he can't handle with his rifle. The case is point—Milly Scott the new store keeper.
     A bow & arrow in the hands of Dan Cupid are proving more than a match  for the fast firing, accurate rifle of McCain. Up to this point Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors), a
 widower, has been plowing through the problems of taming the west, running a ranch and bringing up his young son, Mark (Johnny Crawford), with an occasional assist from Marshal Micah Torrance (Paul Fix). But Public reaction being what it is, the producers felt it was time for a change.
Several months ago they had a show with love interest in it and the reaction was good.  So the hunt was on for a permanent member of the cast.  The winner, Joan Taylor, five feet, four inches of capable young actress. 
In talking with her, you get the definite impression that she is happy with her new acting assignment in the excellently produced, highly rated western series.
"You know," she told me, "I had three interviews and then waited three or four months before they told me I was in.  I was sure I missed out."  The fact is the producers interviewed nearly 100 actresses before deciding on Miss Taylor.
"Last season I was interviewed for a part in an episode and I didn't get it.  I was really unhappy at the time.  The series is such a good one.  That was the luckiest thing that happened to me, the way it turned out.  If I played in that episode last season, I wouldn't have had a chance at Milly."
Miss Taylor, born Rose Marie Emma in Geneva, Illinois, grew up in Lake Forrest, Illinois where her father today still manages a motion picture theatre.
"Becoming an entertainer was a long ambition of mine as long as I can remember," she said.  "I took singing and dancing lessons and learned to play the violin."
From high school and USO shows she came to California to study at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1946.  Victory Jory was instrumental in getting her a screen test with Nat Holt and she then was under contract with Paramount.
She was a charter member of Paramount Pictures Golden Circle of the 1950's.  Shortly afterwards the studio took out a $100,000 policy to insure her shapely legs when she was riding a horse.
"From then on I didn't do much dancing in the movies" she explained.  "But I learned how to ride, shoot guns, bows and arrows and even to toss spears.  I became quite proficient at playing Indians.
Her dark hair and olive skin led to man Indian roles in such picture as 'The Savage' with Charleston Heston and 'War Paint' with Robert Stack.  These were more than amply balance with non Indian roles.
"Acting is like any other worth while career—you have to work at it," she said earnestly.  "You train for it and you work hard to keep learning."
In 1950 She married Leonard Freeman, now a writer-producer and the Freeman's have three daughters: Robin 6, Lisa 3, and Susan, 21 months. 
But back to Milly and the Rifleman, a subject that dominated our conversation.
"What kind of character is this Milly?"  we asked politely.
"That's the right word—character," she said with emphasis, she's not the typical young sweet ingenue.  She's a character & she works hard.  In fact she must shock some of the towns people when she wears jeans.  But for the type of work she does, jeans would be practical and Milly is practical," so is the charming Miss Taylor.  
As explained in the November 17th segment of Rifleman, Milly Scott had been a school teacher in Santa Fe when she came into an inheritance.  She wanted to go into business for herself and the North Fork general store was up for sale, so there she was.
In the space of 27 minutes Milly Scott was unable to alienate the entire population of North Fork, have three roaring arguments with Lucas, cause the tall rancher to enter into violent fisticuffs and  bring about a shootout where—in the real villains were laid to rest.  At the closing Lucas, the town marshal and Lucas' young son were pitching in to patch of the general store.  Some Character!
Whether the new romantic interest leads to the alter is a matter for speculation.
"The producers are playing it by ear." Miss Taylor explained.  "It all depends on what the viewers want.  Personally I hope Milly is around for quite a while. I love the show."
At this point I wasn't sure if I was talking to Miss Scott or Miss Taylor or was it Mrs. Freeman?  But her family life seemed to be a safe subject, whatever or whoever she was.
And how does her daughters react to having an actress for a mother?
Only her oldest, Robin, is really aware of what this is all about and she seems to take it in stride quite nicely. In fact, a while back I had a couple of weeks off and was having the time of my life puttering around the house.  Robin asked me, "Gee are you going to be a plain old mommy now?"
"I told her, 'Honey that's the most important part there is.' "    

Mark & Lucas McCain

Joan Taylor & Paul Fix - The Rifleman

Johnny Crawford & Chuck Connors have been going it alone so far on the Rifleman but since last month something new has been added, romantic interest in the form of Joan Taylor.

Joan Taylor as Milly Scott takes over the general store in North Fork on the Rifleman under the watchful eye of Paul Fix, who plays Marshal Micah Torrance.

 TV Scripts Are Cautiously
Putting Romance in Shows

Reading Eagle - Aug 21 1960

Chuck Connors, who plays McCain, said the decision was taken after receiving quantities of mail, particularly from feminine viewers who thought it was time little Mark McCain felt the influence of a woman.

"After all, "said Chuck practically, "Mark has been 2 1/2 years without a mother. And if I do have a girl, it will help set up a whole new series of plot situations."

Arnold Laven, one of the "Rifleman" producers, commented that last season chock did two or three shows in which women played important roles, and each time there was such response that "we decided to find a natural way to bring a woman into North Fork."

"But we want to avoid the cliché of Sunbonnet Sue," he added. "We want Milly to be the kind of hands- on- hip, straight - shouldered girl on whom we can build a relationship that is strong and with touches of humor. Then, of course, will figure out from the response to that how far will that the relationship go--in other words, whether it will need permitted to mature into marriage."

Joan Taylor
Marie Emma Freeman

20 Million Miles of Memories
An interview with Joan Taylor (10/17/97)

Miss Milly
Milly Scott ~ Owner of the General Store
Milly bought the store from Hattie

Site Map
around The McCain Ranch