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Chuck Connors Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (52) | Personal Quotes (28) | Salary (3)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 10 April 1921Brooklyn, New York, USA
Date of Death 10 November 1992Los Angeles, California, USA  (lung cancer and pneumonia)
Birth NameKevin Joseph Aloysius Connors
Height 6' 5½" (1.97 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born to immigrant parents from the Dominion of Newfoundland (now part of Canada) Chuck Connors and his two-years-younger sister, Gloria, grew up in a working-class section of the west side of Brooklyn, New York, where their father worked the local docks as a longshoreman.

Chuck's natural athletic prowess earned him a scholarship to Adelphi Academy, a private high school, and then to Seton Hall, a Catholic college in South Orange, New Jersey. Leaving Seton Hall after two years, on October 20, 1942, he joined the army, listing his occupation as a ski instructor. After enlistment in the infantry at Fort Knox, he later served mostly as a tank-warfare instructor at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and then finally at West Point. Following his discharge early in 1946, he resumed his athletic pursuits. He played center for the Boston Celtics in the 1946-47 season but left early for spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Baseball had always been his first love, and for the next several years he knocked about the minor leagues in such places as Rochester (NY), Norfolk (VA), Newark (NJ), Newport News (VA), Mobile (AL) and Montreal, Canada (while in Montreal he met Elizabeth Riddell, whom he married in October 1948. They had four sons during their 13-year marriage). He finally reached his goal, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in May 1949, but after just five weeks and one at-bat he returned to Montreal. After a brief stint with the Chicago Cubs in 1951, during which he hit two home runs, Chuck wound up with the Cubs' Triple-A farm team, the L.A. Angels, in 1952. A baseball fan who was also a casting director for MGM spotted Chuck and recommended him for a part in the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn comedy Pat and Mike (1952). Originally cast to play a prizefighter, but that role went instead to Aldo Ray. Chuck was cast as a captain in the state police. He now abandoned his athletic hopes and devoted full time to his acting career, which often emphasized his muscular 6'6" physique.

During the next several years he made 20 movies, culminating in a key role in William Wyler's 1958 western The Big Country (1958). Also appearing in many television series, he finally hit the big time in 1958 with The Rifleman (1958), which began its highly successful five-year run on ABC. Other television series followed, as did a number of movies which, though mostly minor, allowed Chuck to display his range as both a stalwart "good guy" and a menacing "heavy".

Chuck Connors died at age 71 of lung cancer and pneumonia on November 10, 1992 in Los Angeles, California. He is buried in San Fernando Mission Cemetery with his tombstone carrying a photo of Connors as Lucas McCain in "The Rifleman" as well as logos from the three professional sports teams he played for: the Dodgers, Cubs and Celtics.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: dinky-4 of Minneapolis (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (3)

Faith Quabius (1977 - 15 April 1980) (divorced)
Kamala Devi (10 April 1963 - 1972) (divorced)
Elizabeth "Betty" Riddell (1 October 1948 - 1961) (divorced) (4 children)

Trade Mark (5)

Towering height and athletic physique
Strong jawline and bold blue eyes
Deep commanding voice
Brooklyn accent.
His rifle.

Trivia (52)

Played major league baseball (for the Chicago Cubs) in 1951.
Connors also played professional basketball with the Boston Celtics.
Chuck Person, an NBA Player, is named after him.
According to an article on television westerns in Time Magazine (March 30, 1959), Connors stood 6'5" tall, weighed 215 pounds, and had chest-waist-hips measurements of 45-34-41.
Almost suffered the same fate in each of his two television westerns. On a 10-2-61 episode of The Rifleman (1958) called "The Vaqueros", he was stripped to the waist, tied to a tree and left to die under a scorching sun by a group of Mexican bandits. On an 11-14-65 episode of Branded (1965) called "Fill No Glass for Me", he was stripped to the waist, tied to a tree and left to die under a scorching sun by a group of Indian warriors (in both cases he survived).
Very likely the only guest commentator on Monday Night Baseball to use the F-word.
Was elected to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1991.
In a 1997 biography titled "The Man Behind the Rifle", author David Fury says that "Chuck" Connors acquired his nickname while an athlete playing first base. He had a habit of calling to the pitcher: "Chuck it to me, baby, chuck it to me!".
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1991.
Lucas McCain, Connors' character on The Rifleman (1958), was ranked #32 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].
He was the first NBA player to shatter a backboard; he did it while playing for the Boston Celtics in 1946.
Accepted the role of Mr. Slausen in Tourist Trap (1979) because he wanted to "become the Boris Karloff of the '80s".
On October 10, 1950, he was traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers - with whom he had appeared with in one game in 1949 - with Dee Fondy to the Chicago Cubs for Hank Edwards and cash. He spent part of the 1951 season with the Cubs.
Before the 1940 baseball season, he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent.
Was an altar boy and parishioner at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
He was a staunch supporter of the Republican Party as well as a frequent guest at the White House during the administration of his close friend President Richard Nixon.
A longtime smoker, he was hospitalized with pneumonia three weeks before his death.
In June 1973, he befriended Soviet Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev in a meeting at the White House. Connors traveled to the Soviet Union in December 1973, and presented Brezhnev with two Colt revolvers. In 1982, he asked his friend President Ronald Reagan if he could attend Brezhnev's funeral service, but he was not allowed to be part of the official US delegation.
Was a film "enemy" of Charlton Heston at least twice -- as Buck Hannesey in The Big Country (1958) and as Tab Fielding in Soylent Green (1973).
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume 3, 1991-1993, pp. 116-118. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001.
Best remembered by the public for his starring role as Lucas McCain on The Rifleman (1958).
Remained good friends with Johnny Crawford during and after The Rifleman (1958).
His series The Rifleman (1958) was canceled at the end of the fifth season, because both the actor himself and co-star Johnny Crawford had decided to move on to other projects.
Graduated from Adelphi Academy - a private high school in Brooklyn, New York, in 1940.
His father, Allan died in 1966, followed by his mother, Marcella, who died in 1971.
Years after The Rifleman (1958), he was a spokesperson for the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in the early 1970s.
At age 13, he remembered he was a lousy first baseman, and the man who made the biggest impact on his life was his coach on a team called the Celtics, a diminutive gent named John Flynn.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6838 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on July 18, 1984.
Future talk show hosts - his friend, Regis Philbin and Arsenio Hall, were once said to be their admirable television heroes. Philbin was a young adult while Hall was just a child.
Before he was an actor, he spent most of the war as a tank-warfare instructor in Camp Campbell, Kentucky, before West Point, New York.
His parents were Allan Connors, who was a longshoreman and Marcella Lundrigan Connors, a housewife.
He had 10 hobbies: golfing, riding horses, reading, swimming, fishing, poetry writing, spending time with his family, baseball, philanthropy and politics.
Resumed his sports career after the war had ended. Connors had no choice other than to play professional basketball, when he continued to play baseball.
His college studies were interrupted when he was enlisted in the United States Army in 1942 in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Had won numerous scholarships while in high school, but chose to attend Seton Hall College (now Seton Hall University).
After he won a scholarship attending a private high school, he played basketball, football & baseball.
Before he was an actor, he was a professional basketball and baseball player.
Future actor LeVar Burton was also said to be a huge fan of Connors' series The Rifleman (1958), as a little boy.
Future comedians, Bill Rafferty and Vicki Lawrence, announcers Burton Richardson and Randy West, actors David Cassidy, Kathy Garver, Clarence Gilyard Jr., Bill Mumy, and talk show hostess, Oprah Winfrey describes him as one of their childhood television heroes.
Future The Rifleman (1958) co-star, longtime friend and devoted fan, Johnny Crawford, had once said in an interview that when he was just a little boy, he too was an avid baseball fan, like Connors was, and would bring his baseball equipment whenever both he and Connors would be on location, during filming.
Chuck Connors died on November 10, 1992, at 71. A couple of years before his death, he was devastated to hear about Burt Lancaster's stroke. He tried calling his office one day, but his office wasn't releasing any information at that time. Connors sent a letter in support of David Fury's nomination of Lancaster to the Cowboy Hall of Fame and signed the petition David sent to the American film Institute nominating Burt for the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.
Almost one year before his death, his first wife, Elizabeth "Betty" Connors, died on February 27, 1992, after a long illness.
Had English and Irish ancestry.
Acting mentor and friend of Johnny Crawford.
Appeared on the front cover of TV Guide five times.
Connors was one of only twelve athletes in history to have played for both Major League Baseball and in the NBA.
He joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949.
Was a member of the Sheriff's Advisory Board of Orange County, California.
Was a Boy Scout.
A private person.

Personal Quotes (28)

I don't want my kids growing up believing that there is nothing destructive in the world. I want them to know that there is good and bad in the world, that you can be hurt physically, that guns can kill you, that drugs are bad for you, that not everyone means well.
[In 1973] The President gave me about two dozen presidential tie clips and ladies' pins, with instructions to spread them around when I thought it appropriate, Brezhnev [Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev] will get more than a tie clip. I've ordered two engraved Colt revolvers for the General Secretary, Brezhnev is quite a western buff.
[on The Rifleman (1958)'s theme song] I hear the same thing everywhere I go.
Well, it isn't because I'm the fidgety guy, seriously, I have to sit there like a mummy you can't move. Regular makeup you can turn around and I sit there like that, and the worst part of it is, after working 14 hours, I can't just take it off, I have to sit for another hour because of the way they made these appliances, and they have to be taken out very slowly.
[Of Johnny Crawford] When Johnny came on the set in 1958, he was a little 12-year-old boy. He called everyone in the cast or crew "Sir" or "Ma'am". During the course of the five years of our run, he had two hit records, and he was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor. And yet, when the show was finished after five seasons, Johnny went around and thanked everyone in the cast and crew, and he still called them "Sir" or "Ma'am".
[on his Lucas McCain character] Lucas was a righteous character, despite all the violence. We had the benefit of the father-son relationship, so I could have a little scene at the end of the show where I would explain to Mark, essentially, that sometimes violence is necessary, but it isn't good. And there was a lot of violence on The Rifleman (1958). We once figured out that I killed on the average of two and a half people per show. That's a lot of violence, but it was always covered by the scene with the little boy. And he would say, in essence, "Gee, you won Pa". And I would say, "Wait a minute son. You never win when you kill someone. It demeans you, it takes something away. People have got to learn to do away with violence and guns, and to love each other". And the viewers would forget the fact that I had killed three people during the show, because of the tender epilogue with Mark [Johnny's favorite scenes]. The warm father-son relationship was the heart of the program, and not only did we perform it, but Johnny and I became very close friends.
Now who goes to the games in LA? Producers, directors, writers, casting directors. So because of the good year, I became a kind of favorite of the show business people, unbeknownst to myself.
[About the character he was best-known for] I can never get rid of The Rifleman (1958), and I don't want to. It's a good image. Basically, [the show] was the simplicity of the love between the father and the son. That was the foundation. The rifle was for show, but the relationship was for real. There was some violence, but at the end, I would explain to the boy that the violence was not something we wanted to do, but had to do.
[In 1989] I was a bum of a hitter just not cut out for the majors. But, I will never forget Stan's kindness. When he finished watching me cut away at the ball, Stan slapped me on the back and told me to keep swinging.
[In 1992, about being typecasted because of The Rifleman (1958)] If you're ever being typecasted--as most of us are-- that's a great way to be typecasted. So, "The Rifleman" is still popular with a lot of people, and I'm proud to be associated.
[In 1987 about playing the lead in Werewolf (1987)] It's played very straight and dramatically, but with a tinge of black humor, I play evil incarnate, a 1,600-year-old man in full control of his werewolfism. Janos will kill and eat anybody and anything. Eric, on the other hand, kills only bad people in defense of his own life or those of innocent victims.
[on his first introduction to Johnny Crawford, who was auditioning to play his son Mark in The Rifleman (1958)] I remember the first time I saw him, I was sitting there with the producer and we were interviewing kids to play Mark. We must have interviewed 20 or 30, then Johnny came in and before we even talked to him I said, "That's him, that's The Rifleman's son".
[In 1960] What's cost? This is insurance. At what we pay Connors, what will it cost if he's crippled?
[comparing his baseball and acting careers] So why not be a switch hitter with the rifle, too? Let's learn both ways.
[In 1988] Somebody would like to have that [my agent]. He'll take that instead of commission.
[regarding his baseball career] I was a switch-hitter, remember? At most things, I'm a good with one hand as the other.
I have only five days to win the job. So I can't take time out for injuries.
I'm more than satisfied to stay put in Los Angeles. The Coast League is one of the best leagues in baseball and the living and playing conditions are superior.
[on working in Pat and Mike (1952)] They paid me $500 for my week's work in that movie. I figured they'd made some mistake on the adding machine, but I stuck the check in my pocket and shut up. Baseball, I told myself, just lost a first baseman.
[on how he landed the starring role in South Sea Woman (1953)] I had done just a couple of pictures, and I was sitting outside a little dressing room at Warner Bros, and they were testing a lot of people [for the role of Pvt. Davie White] and I was sitting in my Marine uniform waiting to be called and I went out to get a breath of fresh air, when down the street comes Burt Lancaster in a Marine uniform. And in those days the stars never tested with the actors. So I said to him, "Mr. Lancaster what are you doing here?" And he was a baseball fan, so he just decided to come down and test with me. So he took me in the dressing room to, as he said, "run the lines", and I didn't even know what that expression meant then. Finally I figured him out and I said, "Oh, you mean you want to practice?" So anyhow we read the scene and man he looked at me and said, "Boy we've got to work on this!" About then my name is called on the loudspeaker to come in on stage and Burt goes to the door and yells out to the people, "Hey, I'm talking here, we'll be another 20 minutes, go ahead and test somebody else". Well he went over that scene, seven pages long, to give me some semblance of approaching it proper. And then I went in and did it and got the part. But Burt took that time on his own and I gotta give him credit.
[In 1953] I owe baseball all that I have and much of what I hope to have. Baseball made my entrance to the film industry immeasurably easier than I could have made it alone. To the greatest game in the world I shall be eternally in debt.
[In 1961] I've been wanting to do a movie. I've had some offers, but they always wanted me to play the same kind of character as Lucas McCain [The Rifleman (1958)]. So I turned the pictures down, including The Alamo (1960). People see me for free every week as Lucas; why would they pay to see me in the same type of role?
[on his popularity while playing the 40-something Lucas McCain on The Rifleman (1958)] What did I find out? That the concept of "Rifleman" is sound. I asked if people wanted any changes. Most of them said to leave it as it is. I asked if they wanted Lucas McCain to marry. They said no.
[on the cancellation of The Rifleman (1958)] I knew what [The Lucy Show (1962)] would do to our ratings and I didn't want to wait around until our show was dropped and I might be an actor nobody wanted. The show would have gone five years, and that's long enough. By that time, you have done everything possible with your characters. If you keep on going, you're just cheating the public.
There were two things wrong with me. I had a crew cut and I've never been on a horse. I did something about it. I let my hair grow and I shopped around for a horse.
[of Barry Goldwater who suggested he try for the Senate in February 1967 during a conversation at the Tucson National Country Club] I was in the foursome in front of him and Arnold Palmer. We've met several times before and we were talking about Ronnie's [Ronald Reagan] election and politics in general when the senator said I should run for the Senate. I was flattered. I told him I didn't think it would be possible. He told me I might change my mind later on.
[In 1958] You're doing fine work. That pitch was right in there.
[About being a rugged sports player before he became a rugged leading man] I'm in about as good shape as when I quit baseball in 1952.

Salary (3)

Arrest and Trial (1963) $7,500 /week
Branded (1965) $12,000 /week + percentage
Cowboy in Africa (1967) $25,000 /week (1967)

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