The Rifleman

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George Willeford - The Rifleman #124 Skull

George Willeford - The Rifleman

Chuck Connors meets George, a desperate type.

By George, That WAS George
by Richard K. Shull
The Indianapolis Times, December 31, 1961

     "I'm on 30 seconds at a time.  Don't turn your head or you'll miss it," George Willeford warned about his network TV debut tomorrow (Monday) night on The Rifleman, 8:30 p.m. channel 13.
     "I suppose you could call it a little gift to the community," Willeford said sardonically of his guest appearance on the show as one of the assistant villains.
     "People will watch out of sheer curiosity, I didn't have much with its success or failure.  I'm on the screen five times for about 30 seconds each.
     "I thought the director was a brave fellow to give me as many lines as he did, considering he fished me from half-way across the country, site unseen," George added, belittling his contribution to the art form.
     George, if you recall, was summoned to Hollywood last July to appear in the show.  The schemers reckoned everyone hereabouts would tune in if George Willeford of WLW-I 13 was on. I reckon they reckoned right.
     I saw George in action when the show was being produced at Four Star Studios. He was decked out in black complete with black hat and six-gun.  And he looked mean enough to be a killer, primarily because it was Monday after a hard weekend in Las Vegas and the cast was an hour in being released for lunch.
     Only the two stars Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford are in the show from the regular cast.  According to the script, they are going on a hunting expedition and wind up at a robbers' roost with such varmints as Willeford and Dodgers' pitcher Don Drysdale holding them against their will.
     "You know," George said, thinking back to his experience in Magicland, "that kid (Crawford) made an interesting remark.  He said, "I've been counting ever since the show started the number of times I've said, Pa! Pa! With this script it makes 847'."

     Now, Back in Indianapolis, George concedes life is pretty much the same.  He still has his Saturday night hour, "By George," at 11:30 p. m., his nightly weather show at 6"10 p. m. and he's added a new five-minute commentary, "Critic At Large," at 5:30 p. m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
     I offer criticism on movies, night club acts, TV, anything that strikes me," he said.
     Otherwise, George said, "I'm about average.  I try to make each day a little exciting because I can't stand too much excitement in one day."

  1961 TV Guide Article

George Willeford - The Rifleman

George Willeford played Mallery.  George was an actor, albeit a local theater actor.  He was a "local" TV personality in Indianapolis in the late 50's & 60's ~ In 1962 ABC was promoting "The Rifleman" at the time by giving a "local" TV personality in some TV markets (at an affiliate) a "walk-on" part, and in Indianapolis it was George Willeford.
George Willeford was a professor at Butler University from 1971 to 1986.  He received a B.A. in music education from Indiana University in 1943 and a M.A. from I. U. in 1950. He served in the Navy for three years during World War II.  From 195057 he taught radio and television at Indiana University. He worked at WLWI-TV in Indianapolis, hosting a live morning musical variety show and serving as a weatherman, for eight years. Willeford played the violin and wrote and produced musical revues. He was a popular professor according to an article in the BU student newspaper, known for his sense of humor.

"Hey Dan! Thanks again for this great info.  Dan Collier was a student of George's at Butler University! 
A job well done!"
Also thanks to Butler University for their info!

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