‘The Rifleman’: Comedian Buddy Hackett Was Younger Than His On-Screen Son

by Taylor Cunningham
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The Rifleman star Buddy Hackett was such a sage fellow that he played the father of an actor who was four years his senior.

In 1951 and 1956 the comedian made two cameos on the classic western drama, but he played completely different characters for each appearance.

In the earlier episode, Hackett starred as Daniel Malakie. And he proved that he could branch away from his typical funny-man roles when he played the father of three boys who end up in jail after one dies.

Bonanza actor Christopher Dark played one of Malakie’s sons. But interestingly, Dark was actually a few years older than Hackett. When the episode aired, Hackett was 31 years old and Dark was 35.

While it may have been easier to disguise Hackett’s youth with makeup back in the black and white television days, the casting choice still seems a little odd.

We guess Buddy Hackett was far too wise and responsible to pull off such an immature character.

For his second and final role on The Rifleman, Buddy Hackett returned to his comedic roots when he played Clarence in The Clarence Bibs Story, a hilarious tale about a mop boy who accidentally shoots a notorious outlaw and gains instant fame.

‘The Rifleman’ Star Chuck Connors Turned Down $10K Because He Didn’t Want to Make Fun of Westerns

The Rifleman star Chuck Connors loved Westerns so much that he turned down a five-figure check out of respect for the genre. And who can blame him? Playing a Wild West gunslinger made him a star.

According to an article by MeTV, the Lucas McCain actor was one of the many celebrities who made appearances on a CBS series called The Big Party.

In the episodes, people like Sammy Davis Jr., Eva Gabor, and Carol Channing would show up and, well, party. They’d drink and tell tales of Hollywood lore, and fans loved listening.

Chuck Connors made one stop on the show in 1973. But long before that, the producers had already asked him to star in another episode and promised him $10K if he did—but Connors declined.

Getting that much money for a single show probably seems like a no-brainer to most people, especially when you put it into perspective. Today, the amount would be equivalent to nearly $95K.

So why did the actor walk away from such a huge payday? According to gossip Erskine Johnson, it was because the writers wanted Connors to break his moral code.

“He nixed $10,000 for a guest appearance on The Big Party,” he wrote in 1960. ” They wanted him to kid TV Westerns, which he refused to do.”

And the actor had something to say about the incident, too.

“They got a big surprise,” he mused. “I proved I wasn’t money-hungry.”

Yes, Chuck Connors, you most certainly did.

Outsider.com