Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors was
born on April 10, 1921, and died on November 10, 1992.
Although Chuck Connors is gone, he still lives on as Lucas McCain — The
Chuck Connors, the man, the star, the former major league athlete
possessed enormous presence.
True, his size — 6' 5", a taut, trim 200 pounds would command
attention in any man's league. But the world is well stocked with
Connors' success must be
attributed to something more than height and weight statistics.
Facially, he's square-jaw strong. But most important, it may be the
steadiness and directness of his blue-eyed gaze; the immediacy of
voice and the no-nonsense approach embedded in a compelling sense of
fairness that puts the man across. On the other hand, there's the
fun side of Connors that serves notice to those he knows and trusts
to look beyond his being one helluva tough honcho. The invitation,
the playful challenge is there. In Connors, this hard at 'em
approach is merely a sign of friendship; a call to brotherhood.
Blame it on a life of competition, of sports, whatever. But also
credit the man's gamesmanship for Connors' drive, his longstanding
prominence in the performing arts and his lust for achievement as a
performer and on behalf of charitable, social causes.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Connors was an athlete almost from the day
he could walk. He attended Adelphi Academy on an athletic
scholarship, and at graduation he had no fewer than 27 college
athletic scholarships to choose from.
Chuck chose Seton Hall College in South Orange, N. J., whose
basketball team had a reputation for furnishing players to the
professional ranks. He played baseball as well, and it was also at
Seton Hall that the first wholly unrecognized inkling of his
ultimate future flickered momentarily. Chuck won elocution contest
reciting Vachel Lindsay's "The Congo".
Acquired the nickname Chuck as a
Seton Hall College first baseman who was fond of saying "Chuck it to
me!" Chuck left Seton Hall to sign on as a first baseman with the
New York Yankee organization, This lasted only one season before the
army claimed him and eventually assigned him to the I. S. Military
Academy at West Point as a non-commissioned instructor in tank
warfare. During his tour of duty Chuck moonlighted as a professional
basketball player at night, a way of life which left him perhaps the
most exhausted man ever to depart army services.
After the war and now with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Chuck, tired of
playing in the minors, asked to be sold to the Chicago Cubs—where he
played three months before he was shipped off to still another minor
league club, the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.
This proved, however, to be the luckiest move Connors made since he
took up poetic elocution at Seton Hall. Los Angeles was the home of
Hollywood; many Hollywood celebrities made a practice of coming out
to the ball games, and Connors was that baseball rarity — a man who
could play the clown and still hit .321 and 23 home runs in only
half a season.
"Handling a rifle or a baseball bat
takes coordination and practice, that's all." ~Chuck Connors
A huge, overgrown puppy in both attitude and appearance (he once ran
around the bases backwards after hitting a home run), he was a
natural to catch the eye of the essentially fun-loving Hollywood
people. It would be fun, they all agreed, to give this big kid a
small part here and there. The publicity wouldn't hurt either.
What they hadn't quite reckoned with was the blotting-paper quality
of the big kid's inquisitive mind. Whenever he got on a TV or movie
set, Connors would ask questions, picked brains, borrowed books,
button-holed everybody who could help teach him what the film and
television business was all about. Before anyone quite realized what
was happening, the big gangling minor league home run hitter had
turned into a knowledgeable and proficient actor.
1. Who was the first NBA player
to break a backboard while dunking?
Chuck Connors, aka, TV's The Rifleman. Boston's first home game --
on Nov. 5, 1946 at Boston Arena -- Chuck Connors of the Boston
Celtics shattered the first backboard in NBA history during the
warm-up before a Celtics game. Connors went on to shatter
desperadoes in the television show The Rifleman.
Now available on Kindle.....
Chuck Connors.....The Man Behind
the Rifle by David Fury
Edited version of the 1997 book, with lots of new photos, and also a
complete Rifleman episode/plot synopsis guide.