7 Oscar-nominated actors who guest starred on The Rifleman
These talented actors were recognized by the Academy and two even won Hollywood’s most prestigious award.
The Rifleman had no shortage of talented guest actors. Future TV stars like Michael Landon, horror icons like Lon Chaney Jr. and even baseball greats like Duke Snider all stopped by North Fork. But there were a few actors, both instantly recognizable and less well-known, who were recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for their talents both before and after appearing in the classic Chuck Connors Western.
Here are seven Rifleman actors who were nominated for Academy Awards, two of which went on to win! Some are famous actors, but a few of these Oscar nominees may surprise you.
1. Ellen Corby
Ellen Corby, everyone’s favorite TV grandma in The Waltons, appeared in two Rifleman episodes, “The Spoiler” and “The High Country.” By the time she guest starred on the Chuck Connors Western in the early 1960s, she was well into her years as a reliable character actor seen in The Andy Griffith Show, The Addams Family, The Fugitive and many others. But Corby started her career in Golden Age films of the 1930s and '40s. She was even nominated for her supporting role in the 1948 movie I Remember Mama.
2. Dennis Hopper
A decade before becoming a counter-cultural icon for his work with Peter Fonda in Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper was a young actor known for guest spots in TV Westerns and anthology shows – if he was known at all. But that all changed after Easy Rider, which garnered him an Oscar nomination for writing and leading man status. He was nominated again for his supporting role in the 1986 Gene Hackman basketball drama Hoosiers.
3. Katy Jurado
Katy Jurado starred in over a dozen Mexican films throughout the 1940s before breaking into Hollywood with early Fifties Westerns like High Noon and Arrowhead. In 1954’s Broken Lance, she costarred with Spencer Tracy and Richard Widmark, becoming the first Latin American actress to be nominated for an Oscar for her role as Señora Devereaux. She went on to play boarding house owner Julia Andueza in The Rifleman episode “The Boarding House” along with other guest roles in shows like Death Valley Days and The Virginian.
4. James Coburn
James Coburn started his long career playing all kinds of nefarious types in TV Westerns like Wanted Dead or Alive, Have Gun – Will Travel, Bonanza and, of course, The Rifleman. He began winning big-screen roles in the 1960s and was soon a recognizable face in everything from sci-fi flicks to James Bond spoofs. He was not only nominated but won an Oscar for his supporting role in Paul Schrader’s 1997 small-town crime caper Affliction.
5. Robert Vaughn
Robert Vaughn will always be remembered as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. But the Sixties spy series was just one small part of a long and varied career. He had no trouble winning guest spots on all kinds of early Sixties programs like The Rifleman for good reason. At 27-years-old he was nominated for an Oscar for his role alongside Paul Newman in the 1959 film The Young Philadelphians.
6. Agnes Moorehead
Best known as Samantha’s mother in Bewitched, Agnes Moorehead’s career began long before her time as Endora. She provided voices for Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre radio program then won her first onscreen role in a little film of his called Citizen Kane. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Welles’ next film The Magnificent Ambersons. In all, she was nominated for not one, not two, not three but four Oscars! All before her time on Bewitched. She also played the title character, a secret bounty hunter, in The Rifleman episode “Miss Bertie.”
7. Martin Landau
Martin Landau began his career in the 1950s, appearing mostly in TV Westerns like Maverick, Rawhide and The Rifleman episode “The Vaqueros.” He continued to act on screens big and small then was finally nominated for Oscars two years in a row in 1989 and 1990. It wasn’t until 1995, however, that he won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Bela Lugosi in the Tim Burton film Ed Wood.