‘The Rifleman’ Star Often Looked Out For Child Actor Johnny Crawford: Here’s the Tragic Reason Why

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

Guns are a major part of any TV western. “The Rifleman” was no different, but one of the show’s stars made sure to keep a young one safe.

Paul Fix, who played Sheriff Micah Torrance on the show, was intent on teaching Johnny Crawford, who played Mark McCain, how to safely handle a gun. He and “The Rifleman” star Chuck Connors, who played Lucas McCain, would often go over safety precautions with Crawford.

One reason Fix was so intent on this happened to be because he almost suffered life-ending injuries due to a gun. According to an article from MeTV, Fix was playing with his brother with a gun when it misfired. A bullet went through Fix’s nose and exited the back of his head.

‘The Rifleman’ Star’s Accident Led Him To Overcome Fear Of Guns, Cameras

This experience put the fear of guns and cameras, too, inside Fix.

“There are pictures taken of me a few years after the accident and I’m always running away from the camera,” Fix told “The Daily Item” in 1960. “I couldn’t stand to have anything pointed at me, thinking it might shoot.”

He really wanted to become an actor. So Fix propelled himself into many Western films and, ultimately, playing a classic TV character.

“The Rifleman” aired on ABC for five seasons between 1958-63. It reflected a story far beyond McCain’s role. It showed a father, as a single parent, raising his son alone. This storyline was one that hadn’t been a part of too many television shows at that time.

Connors, who gained earlier notoriety in professional sports, would go on and be a part of other Western-themed TV series after this one ended.

Sadly, all three of these stars are now dead. Crawford had been the longest living original cast member until his death on April 29, 2021, at 75 years old.

Paul Fix Had Definite Ideas On How His Character Would Look In Show

Speaking of Fix, the actor definitely had some strong ideas on how Micah should look in the show.

Fix said in a 1961 interview that he made sure the important people knew about them.

“All I make sure of is that the old guy (Micah) doesn’t lose his dignity, that he’s not made a fool of,” Fix said. “I see the writers sometimes and see to that. It’s important for the kids who watch that they have respect for this badge.”

“The Rifleman” never showed Micah being made to look bad. In fact, the respect he mentioned in the interview was prevalent on the show. His portrayal of the sheriff was one of respect and honor. People who crossed paths with Micah knew the lawman wasn’t messing around.

So, Fix got his point across and received solid scripts.