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How Each of the Rifleman Cast Members Died

Alongside Gunsmoke and Bonanza, The Rifleman’s down in history is one of the most influential and groundbreaking television Western series. The program starred Chuck Connors as a rancher named Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his beloved son Mark McCain. The series is set in the fictional frontier town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory, in the late 19th century.

The Rifleman airs in black in white on ABC, premiering on September 30, 1958, and runs until April 8, 1963. The production company Four Star Television creates 168 episodes, throughout that impressive run it gives American audiences a few firsts. Most notably, it was the first primetime television series to depict a single parent who was raising a child.

If you’re wondering about the show’s title, it selects because of McCain’s preference for the iconic Winchester Model 1892 rifle. Since the show is set in the 1880s, this firearm didn’t produce and is a bit of an anachronism. This apparently time-traveling gun customizes by McCain to allow him to repeatedly fire it by cycling its lever action. You can see this unique functionality demonstrated in the show’s opening title sequence.

But enough about the titular gun, The Rifleman boasted a killer cast that really breathed life into the now-classic series. Sadly, it’s been more than half a century since the series ended. Not surprisingly, the majority of the cast are no longer with us. In this video, we’ll look at all the actors featured in The Rifleman Cast Members Died in the 59 years. Since The Rifleman ends its original run on network television.

Chuck Connors

Born Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors on April 10, 1921, in Brooklyn, New York. Chuck is the older child of two born to Irish immigrants, Alban and Marcella Connors.

Growing up, Connors was a devout fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, even though they didn’t have the best record during the 1930s. One day, he hoped that he would be able to play for the team. Chuck was always a talented athlete, and after graduating from a preparatory school called Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn, he received several athletic scholarship offers from more than two dozen universities.

When selecting Seton Hall University in New Jersey, he ended up playing both baseball and basketball for the school’s team. After two years, Connors left Seton hall to accept a contract to play pro baseball. After playing for a couple of minor league teams, Chuck joined the Army after America entered World War II. Throughout the war, Connors served as a tank-warfare instructor at a military base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Later, he would even get a chance to serve at the prestigious West Point in his home state of New York.

When discharged from the military in 46, Connors join the Boston Celtics. He played 53 games with the team before leaving early in the 1947-1948 season.

Realizing that he didn’t want to make a lifelong career out of sports, Connors decided to shift gears and focus on acting. When spotted by an MGM casting director in 1952, he was given a role in the film Pat and Mike playing a police captain.

A year later, he had a role in South Sea Woman alongside Burt Lancaster. Later that year, he played a football coach opposite Western veteran John Wayne in the movie Trouble Along The Way.

Connor’s television career began in 1955 when he appeared in an episode of Adventures of Superman. For the next several years, Connors makes several guest appearances in a handful of television shows, and in 1957, he receives the role of Burn Sanderson in the Walt Disney film Old Yeller.

As a character actor, Connors has appeared In films such as Airplane II and The Big Country, On television, he made appearances in shows such as Wagon Train, Here’s Lucy, Gunsmoke, and The Loretta Young Show.

His best-known acting role, however, was that of Lucas McCain in the highly acclaimed ABC western series The Rifleman – but you knew that already, didn’t you. After his five-year run in that program. Connors found himself typecast for playing the single-parent rancher from the old wild west.

While he would never quite be able to achieve the same kind of fame that he enjoyed while on The Rifleman, Connors did manage to land several memorable roles until his retirement in 1991, most notably playing a slave owner in the 1977 miniseries roots – a role that earned him an Emmy Award. He remembers for his role as Fielding in the 1979s dystopian thriller Soylent Green.

At the age of 71, Connors died of lung cancer on November 10, 1992, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA.

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Johnny Crawford

Kicking off his career in the entertainment industry as a Mouseketeer, John Ernest Crawford, born on March 26, 1946, rose to fame playing Marck McCain on The Rifleman. For that role, he nominated for Best Supporting Actor Emmy when he was just 13.

Crawford came from a family that had deep ties to Hollywood. His father, Robert Crawford Sr, was nominated for an Emmy for film editing, while his brother, Robert Crawford Jr, received an Emmy nod for his work co-starring in the series Laramie.

Because of his performance on the hit television series The Rifleman, Crawford enjoyed wide popularity with teens in the US during the late 50s and early 60s. He tapped into this fame by securing a recording contract with Del-Fi Records. He went on to release four Billboard Top-40 hit singles, including the singles Cindy’s Birthday and Your Nose is Gonna Grow.

Some of Crawford’s other notable early roles include that of Jeff, Wilbur’s next door Neighbor on Mister Ed, and a Native American in the 1965 adventure film Indian Paint. After enlisting in the Army for two years, Crawford played a fugitive soldier on Hawaii Five-O. In 1970, he appeared in the Academy Award-winning film The Resurrection of Broncho Billy.

For the next couple of decades, Crawford made numerous appearances on shows such as Saturday Night Live, Little House on the Prairie, and Murder, She Wrote. His final film role was playing the character William S. Hart in the 2019s Western Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws.

That same year, it was reported that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. On April 29, 2021, Crawford died at his home at the age of 75 after contracting Covid-19, coming down with pneumonia, and then finally succumbing to the bitter ends of Alzheimer’s. He had been the last surviving cast member of The Rifleman.

Paul Fix

Born March 13, 1901, in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Fix was a film and television star who primarily worked in Westerns. Throughout his decades-spanning career, he appeared in more than 100 films and countless television shows. He was perhaps best known for his recurring role of Marshal Micah Torrance on The Rifleman.

Fix’s acting career began in the mid-1920s when he appeared in a silent Western film that starred William S. Hart. For the next 56 years, he would predominately appear in movies and series in that genre. While he is best known for his acting work, he also was a screenwriter. A couple of films that he wrote the scripts for include 1954s Ring Of Fear and 1958s The Notorious Monks.

Fix died of Kidney failure in La at 82 on October 14, 1983.

Bill Quinn

This American actor, born in 1912, appeared in more than 150 roles over his seven-decade-spanning career. He got his start in show biz in the 1920s, appearing in silent films. His last role was in 1989s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Most people remember him best for playing Archie Bunkers’ blind friend, Mr. Van Ranseleer, in the enduringly popular sitcom All in the Family, but fans of the Rifleman remember him as Sweeney, the Bartender.

We could easily do a whole video dedicated to this incredibly talented actor, but we’ll have to save that for another time.

At the age of 81, Quinn died of natural causes in Camarillo, California.

Patricia Blair

Born on January 15, 1933, Blair was an actress who was most active during the 50s and 60s. She is perhaps best known for playing Rebecca Boone on NBC’s Daniel Boone, but her second most noteworthy credit was playing Lou Mallory on The Rifleman. In total, she appeared in 22 episodes of the series.

Blair passed away after a bout with breast cancer in her home in North Wildwood, New Jersey, at the age of 80 and one of the Rifleman Cast Members Died.

Joe Higgins

Joseph H. Higgins was born on July 12, 1925, in Logansport, Indiana. He started acting when he was 9 years old. After obtaining his Doctorate in Philosophy at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Cincinnati, Ohio, Higgins started his acting career in 1960 when he landed the role of the recurring character Nils Swanson the Blacksmith on The Rifleman.

He would later play Jake Shakespeare in the American legal drama series Arrest and Trial.

After retiring from acting, Higgins served as the spokesman for GE from 1976 to 1982. In 1979 he also was invited to join the FBI’s task force team.

Higgins Died in LA on June 15, 1998, after having a heart attack. He was 72.

The Remainder Of The Supporting Cast

Harlan Warde, who played John Hamilton, the president of North Fork Bank on The Rifleman died of a non-communicable disease on March 13, 1980. Joan Taylor, who had the role of Milly Scott, the North Fork general store owner, died of natural causes at the age of 82 on March 4, 2012, in Santa Monica. Hope Summers, who also played the general store owner later on in the series died of congestive heart failure at 77 on June 22, 1979. John Harmon, who played the hotel clerk Eddie Halstead died on August 6, 1985, after suffering a stroke. He was 80 years old at the time of his death.

That about wraps up our rundown of how all of The Rifleman’s cast members died. Who was your favorite character in the series? And were you surprised to learn that not one of the cast is still living? Let us know in the comments.

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