‘The Rifleman’ Featured Several Oscar-Nominated Actors as Guest Roles

by Lauren Boisvert

The Rifleman premiered on ABC in 1958 and lasted 5 seasons. Throughout that time, the show had some pretty impressive guest stars. Some of them were nominated for Academy Awards, even. Some of them won.

The Rifleman followed rancher Lucas McCain and his son Mark McCain as they lived and worked in North Fork, New Mexico Territory in the 1880s. Because of this dynamic, it was one of the first shows in the U.S. to portray a single parent and their child.

Hardcore Pioneer Women of ‘The Rifleman’

Ellen Corby was nominated for an Academy Award in 1948 for her role in the film I Remember Mama. She also won a Golden Globe for the same role. Most notably, she played Esther Walton on The Waltons, and also had guest roles on The Andy Griffith Show, The Addams Family, and The Fugitive. She began her career in the 30s and 40s as a writer for Paramount Studios, ending up in front of the camera for her first speaking role in 1945’s Cornered. On The Rifleman, she played Mrs. Morgan in two episodes, “The Spoiler” and “The High Country.”

In 1954, Katy Jurado was the first Latin American actress to be nominated for an Oscar for her role in Broken Lance. She was also the first Latin American actress to win a Golden Globe, which she won for her role in High Noon in 1952. Before that, she was a prominent actress in Mexico, going on to join Hollywood in 1951. She played Julia Andueza in The Rifleman episode “The Boarding House.”

Agnes Moorehead was best known as Endora on Bewitched, but she had her first big break in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. She was nominated for an Oscar four times; once for her role in The Magnificent Ambersons in 1942; next in 1944 for Mrs. Parkington; a third in 1948 for Johnny Belinda; and lastly in 1964 for Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte. On The Rifleman, she played a bounty hunter named Miss Bertie.

Famous Men of the West

Dennis Hopper got his start in 1954, and became a household name by the end of the 60s. He started out with bit parts in Westerns, but got his big break in Easy Rider with Peter Fonda. Hopper was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1969 for Easy Rider. He was then nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Hoosiers in 1986.

James Coburn had a career that spanned 45 years, and during that time he made nearly 170 appearances in films and television. In 1997 he won an Oscar for his role in Affliction.

Robert Vaughn received a nomination at 27-years-old for his role in The Young Philadelphians in 1959. He is best known as Napoleon Solo on the 1964 series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He also had supporting roles in The Magnificent Seven, Demon Seed, and Bullitt.

Martin Landau received a few awards over his 62-year career as an actor and producer. He began in 1955 and eventually scored a guest role on Hitchcock’s North by Northwest in 1959. Landau received his first Oscar nomination in 1988 for Best Supporting Actor in Tucker: The Man and His Dream. He was also nominated for his role in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors in 1989, and won the Oscar for playing Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood in 1994.