From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Of Irish-Canadian heritage, Connors was the son of Allan and Marcella (nee Lundrigan) Connors of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland; immgrants to Brooklyn, New York in 1920. Connors grew up with a two-years-younger sister named Gloria; their father was a longshoreman and their mother a homemaker. His natural athletic abilities earned him a scholarship to the private high school Adelphi Academy, and then to the Catholic college, Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. After two years in college he then dropped out and in 1942 enlisted in the Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky, listing his civilian occupation as a ski instructor. Serving mostly as a tank-warfare instructor, he was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and later at West Point in New York state.
 Sports Career
Following his military discharge in 1946, he joined the newly formed Boston Celtics of the Basketball Association of America, but left the team for spring training with Major League Baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers. He played for numerous minor league teams before joining the Dodgers in 1949 for a few weeks. Later, in 1951 he also played for the Chicago Cubs. He was then sent to the minor leagues again, in 1952, to the Cubs' top farm team at the time, the Los Angeles Angels. Few people realize that he was also drafted by the Chicago Bears, but never actually suited-up for the team.
 Acting Career
He realized that he would not make a career in professional sports, so went the route of acting. Playing baseball near Hollywood proved to be fortuitous. He was spotted by an MGM casting director and cast in the upcoming Tracy-Hepburn film Pat and Mike, in which he played a gay state police captain. Connors was also involved in the male adult film industry while seeking work in Hollywood movies.
Connors was best known for his television work. He appeared in a 1954 episode of Adventures of Superman titled Flight to the North, in which he played a good-natured (and very strong) backwoods fellow named Sylvester J. Superman.
Connors also hosted a number of episodes of Family Theater on the Mutual Radio Network. This series was aimed at promoting prayer as a path to world peace and stronger families, with the motto "The family which prays together stays together."
He starred in the television Western series The Rifleman (1958-1963) and Branded (1965-1966), as well as the 1967 Cowboy in Africa TV series, alongside Ronald Howard and Tom Nardini. In 1973 and 1974 he hosted a television series called Thrill Seekers. He had a key role as a slaveowner in the famous 1977 miniseries Roots.
In 1991, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Connors was frequently a supporter of the Republican Party, and attended a few fundraisers for campaigns of President Richard Nixon, who reportedly was a fan of Connors.
- In the opening titles of The Rifleman, Connors fires a Winchester repeating rifle 11 times. The Winchester 1892 only held 10 rounds.
- Connor's height is listed by the Dodgers as 6'5", but listed as 6'6" by the Celtics.
- According to Time magazine's cover story on TV westerns in its 3-30-59 issue, Connors' measurements were 45-34-41.
- Connors is credited with being the first professional basketball player to break a backboard. The incident occurred on November 5, 1946 during a pre-game warmup at Boston Garden when Connors hit the basket rim with a two-handed shot.
- At a party given by U.S. President Nixon at the Western White House in San Clemente, California, in June, 1973, Connors was introduced to Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev of the Soviet Union. Upon boarding his airplane bound for Moscow, Brezhnev noticed Connors in the crowd and went back to him to shake hands, and, jokingly, jump up into Connor's towering hug (as seen in this Russian news clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5P1mue4jxY). The Rifleman was one of the few American shows allowed on Russian television at that time because it was Breshnev's favorite. Connors and Brezhnev hit it off so well that in December, 1973, Connors traveled to the Soviet Union where he presented Brezhnev with two engraved Colt revolvers and filmed a documentary.
When Brezhnev died in 1982, Connors indicated interest in traveling to the Soviet Union for his funeral, but the U.S. government would not allow him to be part of the official delegation.
- "Chuck Connors" was also the name of a famous turn-of-the-century Manhattan saloon-keeper portrayed by Wallace Beery in The Bowery (1933), a movie about Connors and Steve Brodie, who claimed to be the first man to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and live.
- "Chuck Connors" is also a character in O. Henry's short story "Sisters of the Golden Circle" which says that he led reform in New York in O. Henry's time.
- The book Carl Erskine's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout: Extra Innings (2004) includes short stories from former Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine. Connors is prominent in many of these stories.
- The Gambler Returns: Luck of the Draw (1991) ... as Lucas McCain
- Salmonberries (1991) ... as Bingo Chuck
- Werewolf (1987) ... as Janos Skorzeny
- Terror Squad (1987) ... as Chief Rawlings
- Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) ... as The Sarge
- Roots (1977) ... as Tom Moore
- Soylent Green (1973) ... as Tab Fielding
- Cowboy in Africa (1967) ... as Jim Sinclair
- Go Kill Everybody and Come Back Alone (1968) ...as Clyde
- Dark Shadows (1966)
- Move Over, Darling (1963) .... as Adam
- The Big Country (1958) .... as Buck Hannassey
- Old Yeller (1957) ... as Burn Sanderson
- Pat and Mike (1952) ... as Police captain
- See also: Other notable figures in Western films
 External links
- Chuck Connors at the Internet Movie Database
- Find-A-Grave profile for Chuck Connors
- Baseball-Reference.com - career baseball statistics and analysis
- Basketball-Reference.com - career basketball statistics and analysis
- The Rifleman: The Chuck Connors Page - Chuck Connors fan site.
- The Rifleman meets Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev - Meeting with Brezhnev
- TV Party - Meeting with Brezhnev
- Time Magazine - Meeting with Brezhnev