Paul Fix told writers to put some respect on his character in The Rifleman
"It's important for the kids who watch that they have respect for this badge," the Marshal Micah man said.
In the season-five opener of The Rifleman, "Waste," banditos capture Marshal Micah Torrance and bury him up to his next in desert sands. It's a haunting image, one that heavily recalls the season-four opener "The Vaqueros." (Fun fact: Trackdown and I Spy star Robert Culp penned "Waste," his only writing credits for this Western.)
Of course, this being The Rifleman, Lucas and Mark come to the rescue.
This plot in particular makes us wonder what Fix thought of the plot. He had strong ideas of how Marshal Micah should be portrayed.
"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 told columnist John Moore in 1961.
"I see the writers sometimes and see to that," he explained. "It's important for the kids who watch that they have respect for this badge."
Fix by that point was a grizzled veteran of Westerns. His first oater was filmed nearly three-plus decades before The Rifleman. Playing cowboy did not come naturally for the native of Dobbs Ferry, a cozy community north of New York City. Fix said that learning to rope, ride and "drawl" was "on-the-job training."
Fix, on the other hand, found his Rifleman costar to be a natural hero. Moore wrote, "Fix thinks that Chuck Connors, with his background in pro baseball, is the closest thing since [John] Wayne to a real outdoorsman type among the stars of Westerns."
Still, Fix did not want to see the Rifleman always outshine the law. He found that Hollywood writers tended to "make saps out of city police and Western sheriffs," and would instead make the "handsome cowpoke" the knight in shining armor.
"The Rifleman has to be the star, certainly," Fix said, "but if the [marshal] is doing nothing, it has to be because he's checked in some way — by a heavy."
The baddies of "Waste" must have met his regulations for "heavies."