Chuck Connors (April 10, 1921 – November 10, 1992) was an American actor and a professional basketball and baseball player.
During his Army service Connors moonlighted as a professional basketball player at night. Following his military discharge in 1946, he joined the newly formed Boston Celtics of the Basketball Association of America. Connors left the team for spring training with Major League Baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers. He played for numerous minor league teams before joining the Dodgers in 1949, for whom he played in just 1 game; and the Chicago Cubs in 1951, for whom he played in 66 games as a first baseman and occasional pinch hitter. In 1952 he was sent to the minor leagues again, to play for the Cubs' top farm team, the Los Angeles Angels. Connors was also drafted by the Chicago Bears, but never suited-up for the team. Connors is one of only twelve athletes in history to have played for both Major League Baseball and in the NBA. He is credited with being the first professional basketball player to break a backboard. Connors jumped center and smashed the glass backboard in the first-ever Boston Celtics game on November 5, 1946 at Boston Arena
Connors realized that he would not make a career in professional sports, so he decided to become an actor. Playing baseball near Hollywood proved to be fortuitous, as he was spotted by an MGM casting director and signed for the 1952 Tracy-Hepburn film Pat and Mike. In 1953 he starred opposite Burt Lancaster, playing a rebellious Marine private in the film South Sea Woman. Connors starred in 1957's Old Yeller as Mr. Sanderson. That same year he also co-starred in The Hired Gun; .
Although he gained some roles in feature films, such as The Big Country and Soylent Green with Charlton Heston, Connors was best known for his television work. He appeared in a 1954 episode of Adventures of Superman titled Flight to the North, in which he played a good-natured (and very strong) backwoods fellow named Sylvester J. Superman. He was featured in an episode of CBS's The Millionaire.
He achieved stardom when he was cast as "Lucas McCain" in the ABC television Western series The Rifleman (1958-1963), with Johnny Crawford as his son Mark. Chuck Connors; represented the "everyman" who used a special rifle with an enlarged trigger ring to serve up justice to the opposition in every episode. The Rifleman was a creation of Dick Powell's Four Star Television
He next he starred in NBC's Branded (1965-1966) and the 1967-1968 ABC series Cowboy in Africa, alongside Ronald Howard and Tom Nardini. In 1973 and 1974 he hosted a television series called Thrill Seekers. He had a key role as a slaveowner in the 1977 miniseries Roots. Connors also achieved notoriety for an incident on NBC's prime time baseball telecast in the 1970s. The network regularly invited a guest celebrity commentator to join the regular play by play crew in the broadcast booth. Connors accidentally said the "f-word" during the live telecast, stunning both the announcers and national audience.
Connors hosted a number of episodes of Family Theater on the Mutual Radio Network. This series was aimed at promoting prayer as a path to world peace and stronger families, with the motto "The family which prays together stays together".
In 1983 Connors joined Sam Elliott and Cybill Shepherd in the short-lived NBC series The Yellow Rose about a modern Texas ranching family. In 1985, he guest starred as "King Powers" in the ABC tv series Spenser: For Hire starring: Robert Urich. In 1987, he co-starred in the FOX series Werewolf as drifter Janos Skorzeny. In 1988 he guest starred as "Gideon" in the tv series Paradise starring: Lee Horsley. In 1991, Connors was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Personal life & death
Connors was frequently a supporter of the Republican Party and attended several fundraisers for campaigns of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon.
Connors was introduced to Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev of the Soviet Union at a party given by Nixon at the Western White House in San Clemente, California, in June, 1973. Upon boarding his airplane bound for Moscow, Brezhnev noticed Connors in the crowd and went back to him, to shake hands, and jokingly jumped up into Connor's towering hug. The Rifleman was one of the few American shows allowed on Russian television at that time because it was Brezhnev's favorite. Connors and Brezhnev got along so well that Connors traveled to the Soviet Union in December 1973. In 1982, Connors expressed an interest in traveling to the Soviet Union for Brezhnev's funeral, but the U.S. government would not allow him to be part of the official delegation.
Connors died in Los Angeles at the age of seventy-one of pneumonia stemming from lung cancer. He had been married four times and was survived by his four sons.
The book Carl Erskine's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout: Extra Innings (2004) includes short stories from former Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine. Connors is prominent in many of these stories.
The Gambler Returns: Luck of the Draw (1991) ... as Lucas McCain
Salmonberries (1991) ... as Bingo Chuck
Sakura Killers (1987) ... as The Colonel
Werewolf (1987) ... as Janos Skorzeny
Terror Squad (1987) ... as Chief Rawlings
Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) ... as The Sarge
Tourist Trap (1979) ... as Mr. Slausen
Roots (1977) ... as Tom Moore
Soylent Green (1973) ... as Tab Fielding
The Horror at 37,000 Feet (1973) ... as Captain Ernie Slade
Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) ... as "Swiftie" Morgan (uncredited)
Cowboy in Africa (1967) ... as Jim Sinclair
Go Kill Everybody and Come Back Alone (1968) ...as Clyde
Dark Shadows (1966)
Move Over, Darling (1963) .... as Adam
Flipper (1963) ... as Sandy's Dad
Geronimo (1962) ... as Geronimo
The Big Country (1958) .... as Buck Hannassey
Old Yeller (1957) ... as Burn Sanderson
Good morning miss Dove (1955) ... as William 'Bill' Holloway
South Sea Woman (1953) ... as David White
Pat and Mike (1952) ... as Police captain
The Mad Bomber (1973) ... as William Dorn
United States Army portal
Ride Beyond Vengeance (1966)...as Jonas
^ "November Classic Moments" .
The Riflemans Rifle website - Riflemans rifle, Chuck Connors
The Rifleman Chuck Connors - The Rifleman Chuck Connors
Chuck Connors at the Internet Movie Database
Chuck Connors at Find A Grave Retrieved on 2008-04-03
Baseball-Reference.com - career baseball statistics and analysis
Basketball-Reference.com - career basketball statistics and analysis
TV Party - Meeting with Brezhnev
Time Magazine - Meeting with Brezhnev
Chuck Connors at TV.com
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Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Connors"
Categories: 1921 births | 1992 deaths | American basketball players | American film actors | American television actors | California Republicans | Boston Celtics players | Brooklyn Dodgers players | Centers (basketball) | Chicago Cubs players | Hollywood Walk of Fame | Irish-Americans | Deaths from lung cancer | Major league first basemen | Major league players from New York | New York actors | Golden Boot Award winners | People from Brooklyn | Power forwards (basketball) | Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball players | United States Army soldiers | Western film actors | Sportspeople of multiple sports | Four Star Television | American Roman Catholics