Peace & Friendship

The Rifleman meets Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev

A Notable event in Chuck's life was the famous meeting with Leonid Brezhnev of the Soviet Union in 1973, when the Russian Leader was the guest of President Nixon at the Western White House.
Mr. Brezhnev, the General Secretary, had seen four or five segments of The Rifleman; either in the Eastern bloc countries or in Europe, and he really liked it. And
there was a big, big party of celebrities down at Richard Nixon's San Clemente home, in June of 1973. Brezhnev was visiting the U.S. at the time, and Nixon brought him out and he was going to introduce each celebrity to the General Secretary.

Chuck was near the end of the line. Ron Ziegler, the press secretary, walked up to Chuck and said "Chuck, Brezhnev is a fan of yours, do something when you meet him."

By the time Chuck got around to meet him, the Russian interpreter, Victor, had indicated that Brezhnev was a fan of The Rifleman. Brezhnev enthusiastically shook Chuck's hand. Chuck said, "Mr. Brezhnev, on behalf of everybody who ever made a western — including every member of the crew, every actor and actress ― I'd like to present you with a pair of matching Colt .45 revolvers, that I used in a show called Branded. Brezhnev was so excited.

The next morning Chuck was in the compound of the Nixon home in San Clemente with KGB, a couple of Secret Service men, and the White House photographer — no Nixon ― and they took a bunch of pictures after Chuck presented Brezhnev with the revolvers. Chuck showed him how to twirl the guns, and at that time (through his interpreter, Victor), Brezhnev invited Chuck to come to Russia to make a movie.

What happened next is part of history, captured forever on film and video by printed media and network news people.
Mr. Brezhnev saw Chuck on the tarmac, went over to him and vigorously shook his hand, and then jumped off the ground into the startled arms of his western hero, Chuck Connors. This photograph of the Russian Leader and the "Rifleman" in a "bearhug" made the front page of 1600 newspapers worldwide the next day.

To Chuck this was just a harmless incident, and was simply a case of well publicized diplomacy between two individuals — there were no politics involved at all. But unbelievably, a few people had the idiocy to call Chuck a Communist for his diplomatic gesture, and an incident happened that years later he revealed hurt him very deeply. Two men that Chuck had thought were close friends ― a general in the army and a Pentagon legal advisor — called him a Communist and ripped up the autographed photos that Chuck had given them, and then mailed him the torn pieces. Chuck's feelings were very badly hurt by this callous act, and he never forgot it the rest of his life.

Chuck and Faith Quabius were guests of Mr. Brezhnev and Russian State Department in the late 1973 for two weeks, and Chuck filmed a 90-minute documentary entitled Peace and Friendship. This was basically a diplomatic mission for Chuck, who made friends everywhere he went in life, even the Soviet Union.

*Leonid Brezhnev and Chuck locked in such a enthusiastic bear hug that Chuck briefly lifted him off his feet.

Мира и Дружбы
Peace & Friendship

Chuck did visit the Soviet Union as the personal guest of Brezhnev. Chuck did film a 90-minute documentary in Russia titled “Peace and Friendship.”
A filmed diary of Chuck Connors' trip to the U.S.S.R. at the invitation of Premier Brezhnev; includes a visit to the Bolshoi Ballet, Leningrad and Volgagrad, a meeting with Brezhnev, and a look at the Soviet people.
This Documentary was filmed by Laurland-Connors production

December7, 1963 — AP Wirephoto of a meeting between Chuck & Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow.

July 18, 1973 is presented with a gift of an original Russian Samovar from Leonid Brezhnev by Ivan Kharytonovych Yunak, a Russian consulate in San Franciso. AP Wirephoto


Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (Russian: Леонид Ильич Брежнев) (December 19, 1906 - November 10, 1982) was effective ruler of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, though at first in partnership with others. He was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, and was twice Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (head of state), from 1960 to 1964 and from 1977 to 1982.

*Leonid Ilich Brezhnev & Chuck Connors passed away the same day, ten years apart.
Leonid Brezhnev died November 10, 1982 ~ Chuck died November 10, 1992

 In 1982, Connors expressed an interest in traveling to the Soviet Union for Brezhnev's funeral, but the U.S. government would not allow him to be part of the official delegation.


Some of the information on this page is from
 CHUCK CONNORS....."The Man Behind the Rifle"

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.

The Rifleman Episode Guide List

Site Map
around The McCain Ranch