Johnny Crawford had this to say about his onscreen ''Paw,'' Chuck Connors
The young actor often looked up to Connors.
Father-son relationships can be tricky, just ask the song "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens. But here's a little-known fact: On-screen father-son relationships can sometimes be just as tricky. The saying may go, "Blood is thicker than water," but you can't expect every actor to go full method and embrace their costar simply because their characters share a last name.
The good news is that in the case of The Rifleman, on-screen father and son Johnny Crawford and Chuck Connors had a relatively amicable relationship.
As the younger of the two actors, Crawford tended to look for Connors for guidance, and Connors readily offered well-earned praise in response to Crawford, who was already acting circles around various actors who were twice his age. After The Rifleman had ended, Crawford spoke of Connors to The Buffalo News. He stated, "Chuck Connors tells me that I have improved so much since I first started with the show that it really astounds him." The kind words clearly had an influential effect on Crawford, who continued, "It also pleases him because that's the kind of guy Chuck is. I appreciate his encouragement."
With a stage mother as an actress and a film editor as a father, it's no wonder that Crawford began working as an actor so early in his life. However, his love of Hollywood didn't just begin when his career did. He spoke to the Copley News Service and reminisced, "I was enthralled by show business as a kid. Four years old and I was going around driving people crazy with my impression of Johnny Ray singing 'The Little White [Cloud] That Cried.'"
But even though Crawford knew his way around Hollywood by the time he began starring in The Rifleman, he still appreciated the knowledge and stories imparted to him by Connors, whom Crawford called, "Larger than life."
He said, "It was a fascinating part of my education listening to Chuck tell his baseball stories or he'd be reciting Casey at the Bat or he'd be doing speeches from Shakespeare. This always surprises people, that Chuck Connors knows Shakespeare." So whether it was relevant lessons regarding his acting career or just stories of baseball games past, it seems like Chuck Connors was always there for his on-screen son, one way or another.