The Rifleman Chuck Connors

Four Star Productions was a wonderful production company to work for.   It had a distinct family flavor.   Dick Powell often toured the sound stages chatting with the actors and extras.   At year end,   the studio always threw a huge Christmas party on one of the sound stages.   A live orchestra supplied dance music.   A long buffet table supplied the most delicious appetizers, fruits, cakes, main courses and drinks galore.   All the regular studio employees were invited.    The regular stand-ins for all the long running series which included my show, The Robert Taylor Detectives, were invited.    The revelry continued thru the wee hours of the morning.   Most of the big stars from the series attended the gala affair.   Oops, got sidetracked but wanted to share the memories of this superb production company.

The same as the family oriented Christmas gathering, the studio took care of it’s regular stand-ins.   Therefore when The Robert Taylor Detectives went on hiatus I was automatically booked on one of the many other productions.  This included the David Niven Show, the Big Valley, Wanted Dead Or Alive, The Rifleman, Richard Diamond Private Detective,  and all the other regular series on the lot.  I often stood in for David Jansenn when his regular stand-in was not available.   Dave always treated me to lunch when I stood in for him.  🙂

Here is one of the moments I was booked on the Rifleman during a Robert Taylor hiatus:

 

I found a web site dedicated to The Rifleman that has many interesting discussions and information about this series:

 http://themccainranch.myfreeforum.org/

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7 thoughts on “The Rifleman Chuck Connors

  1. Ralph,
    I wonder if you recall Chuck Connors stand-in Fritz Ford/Fritz Apking. He seemed to show up on camera a lot on “The Rifleman” and I always enjoy spotting him on other films and TV in bits or extra assignments. I would think your paths would have crossed a few times. Thank you for sharing your great memories.

    • Hi Gene,

      I vaguely remember Fritz. All of us regular stand-ins on the Four Star lot rotated to the various other productions when our regular show went on hiatus. Especially the westerns. Since there was only one western stage the studio scheduled each of the westerns for the stage at different times of the week and often one production worked the stage in the morning and another in the afternoon. So Fritz, Whitey, myself and assorted regular townsmen pretty much moved from show to show as a group as you have probably seen in Rifleman, Wanted Dead Or Alive and my home show The Black Saddle. Of course the studio selected periodic plots that took place entirely on location which allowed two westerns to film on the same day with one on the stage.

      • Thank you for sharing. I had a letter correspondence back and forth with Fritz Apking shortly before his passing and there was so much more I would have liked to ask him. He also stood in for Charlton Heston and Rock Hudson and did some stunt work for both them and others. I really enjoy this era of filmmaking and classic TV that you are discussing. I have been putting together a biographical tribute on character actor Richard Jaeckel and wonder if you worked at all with him. Thank you. Sincerely, Gene Freese

        • I always like Richard Jaeckel. But not sure if I ever worked with him. Looking at his IMDB filmography there are only a handful of TV series I worked on where we may have crossed paths. I worked a lot on Navy Log and stood in often on Zane Grey Theater.

          As these events took place some 50 years ago, I have a lot trouble deciding if someone looks familiar is it because I worked with them or just because I liked them. Consider that in those days extras worked nearly every day 6 days a week usually a different movie each day. So it’s more than likely at one time or another I worked with every big star and character actor but unless something specific happened such as sharing a MJ cigarette with Robert Mitchum, watching Tony Curtiss and Janet Leigh in a long kiss after the director yells cut, or working 3 months with Edmund Purdom and Ann Blythe I would have at best the faintest memory of that booking.

    • Thanks Fridayv. I’m having a ball just blogging. While writing the blogs about the 50s I’m reliving the moments for a second time around. What could be better than going through the events and at the same time enjoying all the modern conveniences I have now that were not even thought about in the 50s. 🙂

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