Chuck Connors
Chuck ConnorsBorn to Irish-American parents, Chuck and his younger sister, Gloria, grew up in a working-class section on the west side of Brooklyn.

His 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. He dropped out of Seton Hall in his senior year to join the Army in October, 1942, serving mostly as a tank-warfare instructor at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and then at West Point.

Following his discharge early in 1946, Chuck resumed his athletic pursuits. He played center for the Boston Celtics in the 1946-1947 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, Norfolk, Newark, Newport News, Mobile, and Montreal.

While in Montreal he met Elizabeth Riddell whom he married in October of 1948. They had four sons during their 13-year marriage. He finally reached his goal, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in May of 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.

Chuck Connors and Rifle A baseball fan who was also a casting director for MGM spotted Chuck and recommended him for a part in the Tracy-Hepburn comedy, "Pat and Mike." (Originally he was to play a prize-fighter but this role went to Aldo Ray and Chuck was then assigned to play a state police captain.) Chuck now abandoned his athletic hopes and devoted full time to his acting career which often emphasized his muscular, 6-foot-5-inch physique.

During the next several years he made 20 movies, culminating in a key role in William Wyler's 1958 western, "The Big Country." He also appeared on many TV shows. In 1958 he finally became a "name" when "The Rifleman" began a highly-successful five-year run on ABC. Other TV 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."

He is buried in San Fernando Mission Cemetery and his tombstone carries a "Rifleman" photo as well as logos from his three pro sports teams: the Dodgers, the Cubs, and the Celtics.

Chuck Connors Trivia

  • Was born Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors on April 10, 1921. Died November 10, 1992.
  • A total of 168 episodes of "The Rifleman" were aired.
  • Is the first NBA player to shatter a backboard (1946).
  • "The Rifleman" was nominated for an Emmy as the Best Western Series for 1958-59.
  • Acquired the nickname "Chuck" as a Seton Hall College first baseman who was fond of saying "Chuck it to me."
  • Starred in screen Westerns such as The Big Country (1958), Geronimo (1962) and Ride Beyond Vengeance (1966).
  • Appeared in the "Roots" television series (1977).
  • Was elected to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1991.
  • Also appeared in Old Yeller (1957), Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (1969), Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971), Soylent Green (1973) and Airplane II: The Sequel (1982).
  • His tombstone in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery reads "The Rifleman" and includes Cubs, Dodgers and Celtics logos.
  • Former NBA player Chuck Connors Person was nicknamed "The Rifleman" because his mother enjoyed the television show.