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.

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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."

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jjurban 9 days ago
‘…bury him up to his next”? Who proof reads these stories?
sputnik_57 22 days ago
I think the Rifleman writers were sadistic. They always show the most cruel torture and zoom in on the suffering. The criminals always seem to enjoy it.
Andybandit 22 days ago
At least he didn't fall off the wagon to much. He was a good guy, and I like his name Micah.
West1 22 days ago
We must remember that Micah Torrance was a courageous, but flawed man, who had been a broken down alcoholic in his past. He had weaknesses, which included him being a marshall who was not exactly a spring rooster. There was a slightly tarnished quality to his badge, but his wisdom restored its luster. It made up for his shortcomings, like most effective leaders.
glennh3365 23 days ago
I do remember an episode, though, where the Marshal was cowering inside and drinking himself into a stupor because a bully had come to town.
WandaBaker glennh3365 23 days ago
Yes, I really disliked that episode. I always said it was completely out of character for Micah. He was no coward.
CathyK glennh3365 23 days ago
There was more to it than that. Micah had an irrational fear of the "bully" because of his thick spectacles. I guess the glasses just freaked Micah out. Also, because Lucas generally took over when trouble happened, Micah lost his confidence in his ability to take care of problems himself. But let's remember, when the bully finally came to town and Lucas refused to help, Micah pulled himself together and handled it.
Lantern 24 days ago
This is a very disconcerting image.
sputnik_57 24 days ago
"and bury him up to his next in desert sands" I think the writer meant to say "neck"
birddog 24 days ago
I believe without Micah the rifleman would still be a ok show, But with him made it a great western show. Gotta have that Marshall - Right Lucas Boy..
LoveMETV22 birddog 22 days ago
I agree where would the westerns be without their supporting actors,actresses.
Wiseguy LoveMETV22 11 days ago
What makes a western good is the same as any other genre.
LoveMETV22 24 days ago
Good show. Paul Fix seemed to be a versatile actor. They portrayed him in many different ways (in general) on the series.
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