Chuck Connors wrote about the ''hazardous'' task of casting a new female lead on The Rifleman

He met dozens of women before finding Patricia Blair.

Read to Me

It's not uncommon for television shows to change and evolve after a few seasons. Sometimes the changes are subtle, sometimes they are drastic. Adding new cast members is one way that producers try to bring something new to a show in hopes that more viewers tune in.

That's exactly what happened on The Rifleman — twice, actually. Milly Scott, who bought the general store from Hattie Denton in season three, seemed positioned to be a love interest for widower Lucas McCain. The two certainly got along well enough. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Milly left the show after season four with a quick mention of her needing to go back east as explanation.

But Milly's departure did not mean Lucas would be alone, far from it! A new entrepreneurial woman named Lou Mallory was about to take over North Fork. But first, the producers had to find the right person to play her, and since onscreen chemistry between male and female leads is so important, Chuck Connors played a large role in deciding who to cast.

Connors detailed the process in a 1962 press release. He took over the column regularly written by entertainment reporter Vernon Scott, who happend to be on vacation. Of course, it may have just been a ploy to promote the upcoming season of The Rifleman but regardless, it reveals an interesting peak behind the scenes.

The whole story is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Connors writes, "A few months ago, I was handed what I thought was a dream assignment. At least it started out on a dreamlike note but almost snowballed into becoming a nightmare."

He details how interviewing dozens of beautiful women seemed like the perfect job. But it wasn't all fun and games.

"I should have known the old Connors applecart was in for an upset," as he puts it. Past injuries playing professional sports were "child's play compared to the hazardous task of finding a beautiful and talented actress who was right for our show."

Eventually, "some 60 girls later" they found their woman — a redheaded Texan named Patricia Blair. The chemistry between Blair and Connors is hard to deny, as evidenced the very first time their characters meet in the episode "Lou Mallory."

Lou chastises Lucas for tying his horse up in front of one of the many establishments in North Fork she has recently bought. After getting some more information from Marshal Micah Torrance, Lucas goes to meet Lou formally but accidentally bumps into her. Naturally, she falls perfectly into his arms and we get a hint of where their relationship might be headed.

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LindaNitzschke 9 days ago
Lucas' best love interest, to me, was Ann Dodd (played by Christine White, as Lucas' deceased wife's best friend) from season two's "The Visitor."
1shotonek 15 days ago
Interesting facts ! I recently read a lengthy bio about Conners from an author who mainly covered Conners sporting career. But he did mention this final love blossom and that she expected a marriage indeed if another season had developed, but Lucas nixed that. As for gals Lucas liked..forgive me for not recalling her name ( I only enjoy my trivia from memory and do not look stuff up ! ) but she was on thus weekend Sat. evening in the 2 episode show where Lucas/ Mark/Micah get jumped in Mexico and Micah cut up and Lucas nearly killed by the bandit with bad teeth whose " woman " has a baby..! Well, this gal was on at least three different episodes of Rifleman as I recall, and I know I have seen photos of her and Conners very dressed up at different outings...as I recall he was at least very fond of her being on the show if not involved with her off..? Anyway, I always thought she would have made a good love interest to remain on show ? Maybe someone knows her name ? Forgive an old 70 year old man who now only recalls bits of everything but few things entirely..😱😂 ..as per this gal though..I do remember she was quite the...well..buxom babe..as we used to say. Good viewing to all...👍😁
DavidBartholomew 16 days ago
Patricia Blair later played another "Western Wife",

Rebecca, wife of Daniel Boone!
WhiteRook 16 days ago
I really liked the chemistry between Lou and Lucas. One of the final episodes has Lou and Lucas take a injured Mark to mission in Mexico. There Mark is healed but escaped convicts plan to kill them and steal the buckboard. Lucas gets the drop on them and imparts 44/40 justice on them. One of convicts is Dean Fredericks aka
Col. Steve Canyon his F-106 was out of sight.
Mirramanee 18 days ago
I still say that Patricia Blair was nowhere near as likeable as Joan Taylor. Joan's character, Milly, would have made a much better wife (assuming they did end up eventually married on the show). She was more of a home body type who would have been content to live out at the ranch and be a loving wife to Lucas and loving stepmother to Mark. Her personality was such that she would have likely been more than willing to sell off her store and stay at home for good, especially if there happened to be more little McCains forthcoming. I could never see Lou Mallory being willing to give up running her little "empire" in North Fork in order to retire to the ranch and live out her days as wife and mother and I'm not sure Lucas would have been too happy to have her working so much away from home. Lou was way too independent and headstrong. Now I am not being specifically critical of Lou for having these qualities, but in the time period that the series was set, that was very unusual for women. I daresay it was even unusual for the time period in which the series itself was shot. The early sixties was still an era where there were still many women who did not work outside the home (unless they absolutely needed to) and dedicated themselves to taking care of their families.
justjeff 18 days ago
" it reveals an interesting peak behind the scenes"... Oh, MeTV writers, thou art spelling challenged... It's "peek", as to look into, not "peak" as the top of a mountain.

So between "peak" and "peek", it piqued my interest to comment. Ok, self - enough with the puns!
Mirramanee justjeff 18 days ago
Very punny, JustJeff! Sorry...I couldn't resist!
gracie200 justjeff 18 days ago
Ok, I'm confused.....why would you be interested in Captain Ahab's boat?.....oh wait - that's the Pequod........nevermind.
justjeff Mirramanee 18 days ago
No worries, Mirramanee ... you were just "peaking' on me!
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