71 (passed away Nov. 10th, 1992)
Apr. 10th, 1921
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Chuck Connors' Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Kevin Joseph "Chuck" Connors (April 10, 1921 – November 10, 1992) was an American actor, writer and professional basketball and baseball player. He is one of only 12 athletes in the history of American professional sports to have played both Major League Baseball and in the National Basketball Association. With a 40-year film and television career, he is best known for his five-year role as Lucas McCain in the highly rated ABC series The Rifleman (1958–63).
Born to Newfoundland immigrant parents, Connors and his two-years-younger sister, Gloria, grew up in a working-class section on the west side of Brooklyn where their longshoreman-father worked the local docks.
Connors natural athletic prowess earned him a scholarship to Adelphi Academy, a private high school, and then to Seton Hall, a Catholic college in South Orange, New Jersey. Leaving Seton Hall after two years, on October 20, 1942, he joined the Army, officially listing his occupation as a ski instructor. After enlistment in the infantry at Fort Knox, he later served mostly as a tank-warfare instructor at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and then finally at West Point.
Following his discharge early in 1946, Connors resumed his athletic pursuits. He played center for the Boston Celtics in the 1946-1947 season but left early for spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Baseball had always been his first love, and for the next several years he knocked about the minor leagues in such places as Rochester, Norfolk, Newark, Newport News, Mobile, and Montreal. (While in Montreal he met his first wife, Elizabeth Jane Riddell Connors, at one of his baseball games, and married her (October 1, 1948). They had four sons, Michael (born 1950), Jeffrey (1952-2014), Steven (born 1953), Kevin (1956–2005), but divorced in 1961.
Connors married 'Kamala Devi' (1963) the year after co-starring with her in Geronimo. She also acted with Connors in Branded, Broken Sabre, and Cowboy in Africa. They were divorced in 1973.
Connors played in Soylent Green (1973), as Tab Fielding, and Faith Quabius played an attendant. They were married in 1977 and divorced in 1979.
He finally reached his goal, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in May of 1949, but after just five weeks and one at-bat, he returned to Montreal. After a brief stint with the Chicago Cubs in 1951, during which he hit two home runs, Connors wound up with the Cubs' Triple-A farm team, the L.A. Angels, in 1952. A baseball fan who was also a casting director for MGM spotted Connors and recommended him for a part in the 'Spencer Tracy'~'Katharine Hepburn' comedy, Pat and Mike (1952). Originally cast to play a prize-fighter in this film, the role went instead to 'Aldo Ray'. Connors was cast to play a state police captain. Connors now abandoned his athletic hopes and devoted full time to his acting career, which often emphasized his muscular, 6-foot-5-inch physique.
During the next several years, he made 20 movies, culminating in a key role in 'William Wyler's 1958 Western, The Big Country (1958). Also appearing in many TV shows, he finally became a "big-name" in 1958 when The Rifleman began its highly-successful five-year run on ABC. Other TV series' followed as did a number of movies which, though mostly minor, allowed Connors to display his range as both a stalwart "good guy" and a menacing "heavy".
Connors was a supporter of the Republican Party and attended several fundraisers for campaigns for U.S. President Richard M. Nixon.
Connors had started smoking in 1940. For many years he smoked three packs of Camel cigarettes a day until he quit the habit in the mid-1970s, though he occasionally resumed smoking afterwards. He died (November 10, 1992) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 71 of pneumonia stemming from lung cancer. At the time of his death, his companion was Rose Mary Grumley. He was interred in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles with his tombstone carrying a photo of Connors as Lucas McCain in The Rifleman (1958) as well as logos from the three professional sports teams he played for: the Dodgers, Cubs, and Celtics.
- Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives." Volume 3, 1991-1993, pp. 116-118. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001.
- Was elected to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1991.
- Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1991.
- Accepted the role of Mr. Slausen in _Tourist Trap (1979)_ (qv) because he wanted to "become the 'Boris Karloff' (qv) of the '80s".
- According to a article on TV westerns in Time Magazine (March 30, 1959), Connors stood 6'5" tall, weighed 215 pounds, and had chest-waist-hips measurements of 45-34-41
- He was a staunch supporter of the Republican Party as well as a frequent guest at the White House during the administration of his close friend President 'Richard Nixon' (qv).
- Played major league baseball (for the Chicago Cubs) in 1951.
- In June 1973, he befriended Soviet Secretary General 'Leonid Brezhnev' (qv) in a meeting at the White House. Connors traveled to the Soviet Union in December 1973, and presented Brezhnev with two Colt revolvers. In 1982, he asked his friend President 'Ronald Reagan (I)' (qv) if he could attend Brezhnev's funeral service, but he was not allowed to be part of the official US delegation.
Related sites for this celeb