‘The Rifleman’ Star Chuck Connors Reprised His Role in This Kenny Rogers Film

by Matthew Wilson
Photo credit: Richard C. Miller/Getty Images

“The Rifleman” star Chuck Connors reprised his role from the classic western years later in this Kenny Rogers-led made-for-TV movie. Connors appeared in the country singer’s “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.”

Released in 1991, “The Gambler” sequel followed the continued Brady Hawkes, the titular Gambler, as he journeyed across the Wild West. Rogers’ character enjoyed fighting against bandits and outlaws almost as much as he enjoyed a game of high-stakes poker. After all, they don’t call him the Gambler for nothing. In total, “The Gambler” series spawned five films starting in 1980 and ending in 1994.

Connors appeared as his character Lucas McCain in the series fourth sequel. Connors’ character appeared in a moment of need and saved Rogers’ character by showing off his handy rifle skills. His introduction was accompanied by a few notes from “The Rifleman” theme song as well. This time Connors and his character were traveling solo. The in-universe excuse was his son Mark had gone to Hollywood to be a movie star. But Johnny Crawford, the actor who played Mark, got the chance to reprise his character briefly in the film as well.

Overall, the film was full of TV nostalgia. Several actors from iconic westerns reprise their roles in the film. For instance, Paul Brinegar appeared from “Rawhide” and David Carradine as Caine from the show “Kung Fu.”

Meanwhile, Clint Walker reprised his role as Cheyenne Bodie and Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick among others.

Chuck Connors Stars As ‘The Rifleman’

Chuck Connors starred on “The Rifleman” for five seasons from 1958 to 1963. He played Lucas McCain on the show, a Union veteran coming home from the Civil War. McCain decides to retire on the New Mexico Territory at a ranch and raise his young son Mark. But throughout the series, Connors’ character’s marksmanship skills come into play as he’s forced to fight outlaws and villains of the week.

The show was notable for being one of the first programs to include a single parent trying to raise their child. During the pilot episode, McCain’s wife dies off-screen. And Connors’ character must grapple with being a single father while also dealing with the challenges of living on the frontier as well.

Set during the 1880s, the show got its name from the Winchester Model 1892 Connors often used. Western fans got to see the actor break out the rifle one last time decades after his show went off the air. Connors’ role in the film provided a nice epilogue for the character and his son and also a fun cameo for the film as well.