The Rifleman is an American Western television program that starred Chuck Connors as homesteader Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his son, Mark McCain. It was set in the 1880s in the fictitious town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory. The show, filmed in black-and-white, ran on ABC, from September 30, 1958 to April 8, 1963, a production of Four Star Television. It was also the first series ever to have a widowed parent raise a child.
The black-and-white program starred former athlete Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, a widower, Union veteran of the Civil War (lieutenant in the 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment), and a homesteader. McCain and his son Mark (singer Johnny Crawford) lived on a ranch outside the fictitious town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory.
The pilot episode, "The Sharpshooter", was originally telecast on CBS on Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater on March 7, 1958, and was repeated, in slightly edited form, as the first episode of the series on ABC. Regulars on the program included Marshal Micah Torrance (Paul Fix) (R. G. Armstrong was the original marshal for two episodes, the first and the fourth), Sweeney the bartender (Bill Quinn), and a half-dozen other denizens of North Fork (Hope Summers, Joan Taylor, Patricia Blair, John Harmon, and Harlan Warde were regulars). Fifty-one episodes of the series were directed by Joseph H. Lewis, the director of the classic film noir Gun Crazy (1950), which accounts for some of the show's virtuoso noir lighting and dark, brooding quality. Ida Lupino directed one episode, "The Assault". Connors wrote several episodes himself. Robert Culp of CBS's Trackdown, wrote one two-part episode.
The February 17, 1959, episode of The Rifleman proved to be a spin-off for an NBC series, Law of the Plainsman starring Michael Ansara in the role of Marshal Sam Buckhart. In the story called "The Indian", Buckhart came to North Fork to look for Indians suspected in the murder of a Texas Ranger and his family.
Created by Sam Peckinpah
Herschel Burke Gilbert
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 169
Arthur H. Nadel
Original channel ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 30, 1958 – April 8, 1963
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