Chuck O’Connor, after starring in “Branded,” the fan-famous TV show led a fascinating life until everything came to a standstill.
Chuck O'Connor was a shining star in Hollywood who dominated television more than the big screen, although he had some successful films.
THE SHOW THE FANS LOVED
In the ‘60s, O’Connor starred in the fan-famous TV show “Branded;” it aired on the NBC network and ran from ’65 to ’66. The show's setting was the post Civil War era of the old West and the actor who had already established himself as a “Southern” actor got to play the lead.
After enjoying so much success on "Branded" and goodwill from the fans, the New York-born actor went on to star in other TV and film productions. However, O’Connor’s next notable work did not come until the ‘70s when he got the lead role in the TV series “Cowboy in Africa,” from ’77 to ’80.
After that, the Emmy nominated actor had minor roles, and although he didn’t stay in any television production for too long, he starred in films like “The Birdman” and “The Deserter.”
THE SHOW THAT IMMORTALIZED O'CONNOR
Interestingly, as much as fans loved “Branded,” it is not the show that immortalized O'Connor and gave him a place among TV’s greatest actors. That honor belongs to the “The Rifleman.” It aired for five years on the ABC network and became the Golden Globe winner’s most successful role.
In it, the actor played the role of Lucas McCain, a rancher and a single dad who carried a Winchester rifle which he used to defend his homestead from villains.
WAY BEFORE THE BEGINNING
O’Connor’s character was a good guy everybody loved, and off-screen, his life had a similar story. The actor was an easy-going guy who despite his build and physical strength was kind and generous, a trait he developed from his younger years in Catholic schools and as an altar boy.
Born in 1921, to Irish parents who were immigrants, the “The Big Country” star grew up to be one of the few people who had a career in major league baseball and basketball.
Before leaving the world of sports behind for the thrills of Hollywood, O'Connor played for the Bolton Celtics and his dream team, the Brooklyn Dodgers.
At his death in ’92 from lung cancer, his tombstone carried the logos of the teams he played for and an inscription that read, “The Rifleman.”
O'Connor was married three times and left behind his four children, and the memories he created during his successful career on television.
June 28, 2019