Me-TV 50.2 Spotlight: "The Rifleman" Trivia

By Terri Overby

Chuck Connors is said to have fired 12 shots with the rifle in the opening credits.

The character 'Lucas McCain' was ranked #32 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" (20 June 2004 issue).

In the pilot for the series, by Sam Peckinpah (originally written for Gunsmoke but turned down for that show), Chuck Connors' character was named John McCain, not Lucas McCain, and he didn't have a son. It was producer Arnold Laven's idea to make McCain a widower with a son. Also, McCain was originally supposed to have been a dead shot with a pistol. Laven had the idea to use a customized Winchester rifle as McCain's weapon of choice.

This was said to be the first TV series ever to have an actor or an actress play a widowed parent.

Lucas McCain's rifle is an 1892 .44-40 Winchester.

Chuck Connors initially turned down the role of Lucas McCain because he thought the salary was too low. The show's producers then considered James Whitmore and John Anderson for the role, but when they saw Connors' chemistry with child actor Tommy Kirk in Old Yeller, they realized he was the best choice for the role and made him another offer, this time at a much higher salary. He accepted.

In some of the episodes, note that Lucas McCain (without any connection or relevance to the plot) will handle and fire his rifle with equal precision, sometimes with his right hand, and other times with his left hand. An explanation has never been given for this ambidextrous ability.

The Rifleman TV show had a "spinoff" series titled, "Law of the Plainsman". The main characters appeared in The Rifleman episodes #21, "The Indian" and #37, "The Raid". Those two episodes are generally considered to be the pilot episodes for Law of the Plainsman!

Chuck Connors played major league baseball for the Chicago Cubs and professional basketball for the Boston Celtics. He was 6'5" tall!

Three years before appearing on the Rifleman TV show, Johnny Crawford was a "Mouseketeer" on the Mickey Mouse Club TV show.

Leonid Brezhnev, the leader of the Soviet Union, during a visit to the United States was asked if he'd like to meet any famous Americans. He asked ONLY for Chuck Connors. They met, became good friends, and Chuck Connors later made several trips to Russia! Apparently, he was a big Rifleman fan!

Hope Summers appeared on the very first episode of the series, "Starsky and Hutch". She played the part of "Sarah Wilson" in the episode titled "Savage Sunday".

The rifle used by Chuck Connors on the TV show could fire 8 shots in 2.5 seconds!


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