Remembering Chuck Connors! The Rifleman
An American actor and an experienced baseball player, Chuck Connors gained wide recognition through TV series, The Rifleman. The series which broadcasted its first episode on September 30, 1958, documents the relationship between father and a son. After airing its 5th season, the show was canceled on April 8, 1963.
Early life details
Chuck Connors was born as Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors on April 10, 1921, in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were the natives of Newfoundland, Canada, who moved to States. His father, Alban Francis “Allan” Connors earned the citizenship of the United States in 1914, while working as a Longshoreman, and his mother, Marcella got her citizenship in 1917. He grew up with his younger sister, Gloria.
Chuck was a gifted athlete since his young age. Further, he was granted a scholarship by Adelphi Academy from where he graduated in 1939. After his graduation, he got many offers from various athlete universities. Well, this guy was a gigantic fan of Brooklyn Dodgers. Despite their losing record in the 1930s, Chuck was an avid fan, who dreamt of being in the team one day. Following his dream, he attended Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.
He played both basketball and baseball for the school. It was at the university that he changed his name to Chuck. While playing games at universities, he used to yell at the pitcher from his position on the first base, “Chuck it to me, baby, chuck it to me.” Further, his teammates got him soon, and his nickname was stuck with Chuck.
Career in sports
After staying in the university for two years, he left to accept a contract to play professional baseball, where he played four baseball games for two minor league team of Brooklyn Dodgers, called The Newport Dodgers. Further, he went on to play with several minor league teams, including Norfolks Tars, Chicago Cubs and so on. In 1952, he was again sent to the minor league to play for Cub’s top farm team, Los Angeles Angels.
After the entrance of US in the World War II, he joined United States Army and served for four years. During his service, he served as a tank-warfare instructor at Fort Campbell and later in West Point. He also became the professional basketball player, where he joined Rochester Royals and help lead them to the 1946 National Basketball League championship.
After ending his service period in 1946, he joined Boston Celtics of the Basketball Association of America, where he became the first professional basketball player. Also, he was the one who got credited for breaking a glass backboard while playing with Boston Celtics.Besides, this 6’6” guy had played several minor leagues for several teams including Chicago Clubs.
His acting career!
After presenting himself as a player of baseball in several minor leagues, he noticed that he could never make a good career out of professional sports. Later, he decided to try his luck in acting.
Playing baseball near Hollywood proved to be fortunate, an MGM casting director spotted him. Subsequently, in 1952, he was signed for his debut movie, Pat, and Mike as a police captain. In 1953, he was seen in South Sea Woman, where he starred as Pvt. Davey White. Likewise, he was seen in several films including, The Human Jungle, Target Zero, Walk the Dark Street, and Old Yeller.
At the same time, he also made his way to small screens. He appeared in several TV series, including Private security, Adventures of Superman, Climax, The Millionaire and so on. Though his arrival in various series was good enough, he earned wide recognition through, The Rifleman. Well, in this series, he portrayed the role of Lucas McCain, a brave and courageous father figure who always stood for what was right in his community.
Moving on in1968, he starred in the movie, Kill Them All and Come Back Alone. Also, he had starred in various films, including, Embassy, Pancho Villa, Legend of the Sea Wolf, and Virus. Later, in 1987, he made his appearance in the movie, Summer Camp Nightmare as Mr. Warren.
Meanwhile, he was also seen in the recurring role of horror series, Werewolf for five episodes. After airing its 5th episodes, it was called off in 1988. Following year, he appeared in several series such as Wolf, High Desert Kill and so on. He was also seen in TV series, The Gambler Returns The Luck of the draw in 1991, where he played the role of Lucas McCain. Also, he was seen in the movie, Three Days to a Kill as Captain Damian Wright.
Apart from his acting career, he also hosted Chuck Connors Charitable Invitational Golf Tournament through his foundation, from his name. Throughout his successful career, he had garnered an estimated net worth of $5 million.
Married three times!
Married thrice, Chuck was first married to Elizabeth Jane Riddell Connors, with whom he met at one of his baseball games. They tied the knot on October 1, 1948. Together, they shared four sons namely, Michael, Jeffrey, Stephen, and Kevin. After 13 years of their marriage, the duo decided to separate in 1961.
After two years of his divorce, he tied the knot with Kamala Devi. They first met on the set of Geronimo. Later, they also starred in movies like Branded, Broken Sabre and Cowboy in Africa. They also had a lovely house in the hills above Hollywood. However, the duo separated after a decade.
Later, he met his third wife, Faith Quabius on the set of Soylent Green and later they got married in 1977. Two years later, they decided to call it off in 1979.
Apart from being a father, he is also a grandfather to three grandchildren. However, the name of his grandchildren has not been revealed to date.
Died at the age of 71
Chuck Connors passed away at the age of 71 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The world lost a successful actor and athlete on November 10, 1992 due to lungs cancer and pneumonia. He started smoking in the 1940s, and used to smoke three packets of cigarettes per day until he stopped in the mid-1970s.
Well, his partner, Rose Mary Grumley was with him when he was taking his last breathe. His body was cremated in San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles.
After his demise, a movie, A Man Who Fell from the Sky premiered in 2001, as a tribute to Chuck. Well, in this movie, he had appeared as a narrator and a host.
Today we are talking about the late actor Chuck Connors, who is most remembered as Lucas McCain, The Rifleman.
Besides his recognition as The Rifleman, there are more chapters to his story.
Chuck wasn’t only a talented actor, but a wonderful athlete too.
He is one of the 12 athletes in the history of American professional sports, who played both Major League Baseball & in the National Basketball Association.
April 10, 1921-born Connors died due to lung cancer and pneumonia on November 10, 1992.
He didn’t like his birth name, Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors and he tried out several names like Lefty and Stretch.
When he played baseball at university, he would yell to the pitcher, “Chuck it to me, baby, chuck it to me!”. From there he earned the nickname Chuck and finally settled on it.
He started as a professional baseball player playing with New York Yankees and later left to join the US Army following America’s entrance into World War II.
During his Army service, he moonlighted as a pro basketball player, joining the Rochester Royals and helping to lead them to 1946 NBL championship.
Later, while he was playing with Boston Celtics, he became the first pro basketball player to break a glass backboard.
Chuck later played baseball with Brooklyn Dodger, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.
He became recognized as an actor when he beat 40 other actors to play Lucas McCain on the ABC Western series, The Rifleman.
Before The Rifleman, Chuck had already started building a solid career in the show business playing wide arrays of characters in movies and TV shows.
He has still been recognized for his fine performances in classic series like Branded, Roots, Arrest and Trial, Cowboy in Africa and more.
From his playing career to his entry in Hollywood, he used his natural talents to carve out a life story worth telling.
Chuck was married three times in his lifetime.
He met his first wife, Elizabeth Riddell at one of his baseball games and married her on October 1, 1948.
With Elizabeth, he welcomed four sons, Michael, Jeffrey, Stephen and Kevin until they divorced in 1961.
His second wife, Kamala Devi was his co-star in Geronimo, Branded and Cowboy in Africa, whom he was to from 1963 to 1973.
Then, he married his Soylent Green co-star, Faith Quabius from 1977 to 1979.
Chuck was introduced to the leader of Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev at a party thrown by then US president Richard Nixon in 1973.
Since then Chuck and Leonid got along well, and Chuck traveled to the Soviet Union in December 1973.
Coincidently, both of them died on the same day in 1992.
Chuck was buried in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles.