Kevin Joseph "Chuck" Connors (April 10, 1921 - November 10, 1992) was an American actor, writer, and professional basketball and baseball player. His best-known role from his forty-year film career was Lucas McCain in the 1960s ABC hit Western series The Rifleman.
Connors beat out 40 actors for the lead on The Rifleman, portraying Lucas McCain, a widowed rancher known for his skill with a customized Winchester rifle. This ABC Western series was also the first show ever to feature a widowed father raising a young child. Connors said in a 1959 interview with TV Guide that the producers of Four Star Television (Dick Powell, Charles Boyer, Ida Lupino and David Niven) must have been looking at 40-50 thirty-something males." At the time, the producers offered a certain amount of money to do 39 episodes for the 1958-59 season. The offer turned out to be less than Connors was making doing freelance acting, so he turned it down. A few days later, the producers of The Rifleman took their own children to watch Old Yeller in which Connors played a strong father-figure role. After the producers watched him in the movie, they decided they should cast Connors in the role of Lucas McCain and make him a better offer, including a 5% ownership of the show.