‘The Rifleman’: Chuck Connors Appeared in This Classic Tearjerker

by Madison Miller

Chuck Connors could go from a serious Western role in ABC’s “The Rifleman” to a professional basketball and baseball player to also appearing in a tear-worthy film.

From 1958 to 1963 Connors had the lead role in “The Rifleman” as Lucas McCain. He was a rancher and Union Army veteran of the Civil War. The series takes place in the 1880s.

Chuck Connors in ‘Old Yeller’

A year before starting his role as an overprotective father with awesome gun skills, Connors appeared in a movie called “Old Yeller” in 1957. The movie is a drama film that was produced by Walt Disney.

It stars Tommy Kirk, Dorothy McGuire, Fess Parker, and Beverly Washburn. Spike plays the role of the loyal dog, Old Yeller. The movie is about a young boy that finds a stray dog. The movie is set post-Civil War in Texas.

Chuck Connors plays Burn Sanderson in the movie. He is the original owner of the dog that goes looking for him. Sanderson ends up on the family’s farm but realizes that they need the dog more than him. He trades the dog for a horny toad and a hot meal. Chuck Connors’ character warns the family of the spread of rabies and then takes off.

He acted in other movies like “The Big Country,” “Move Over Darling,” “Soylent Green,” and “Airplane II: The Sequel.”

The movie is based on a book written by Fred Gipson. There was also a 1963 sequel called “Savage Sam” created after the movie’s success.

Legacy and Sadness of ‘Old Yeller’

For those who have never seen the film, it’s quite the tear-jerker. A happy and energetic dog graces the movie’s promotional image. For many people, a movie about a dog can either end very tragically or in the best way possible.

For “Old Yeller,” viewers would want to load up DoesTheDogDie.com. It’s a go-to site for people that will avoid a movie that has any kind of animal death. For “Old Yeller,” death has remained a massive part of the movie’s legacy, especially for Baby Boomers. It is remembered as one of the most tearful scenes in cinematic history. Nothing quite brings the waterworks like watching a loyal good boy on the screen die.

The film has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with an overall audience score of 79%. Despite the sobbing that can ensue, the movie is certainly worth the watch. The site describes it as, “Old Yeller is an exemplary coming of age tale, packing an emotional wallop through smart pacing and a keen understanding of the elemental bonding between humanity and their furry best friend.”