The Rifleman's first girlfriend left Chuck Connors in the dust when her real husband created Hawaii Five-O
Joan Taylor's mom begged her son-in-law to film his next series in Hawaii.
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The flirtation between Lucas McCain and the shopkeeper Milly Scott added romantic tension on The Rifleman that stretched across 18 episodes.
This tension built and built right up to the moment when, during an episode called "Milly's Brother," Lucas and Milly finally share a kiss. It happens right after the Rifleman becomes too jealous of Milly's attention to another man not to reveal what's in his heart.
Could this be true love?
This is the last time Lucas ever saw Milly, because it's the last time that the actor who played the shopkeeper, Joan Taylor, appeared on The Rifleman. After that, she left Chuck Connors in the dust. When Taylor first got cast as Milly, she told The Modesto Bee, “She's not the typical young sweet ingenue. She's a character, and she works hard. In fact, she must shock some of the townspeople when she wears jeans. But for the type of work she does, jeans would be practical, and Milly is practical."
When she first got the role, she had pretty much reached the high point of her acting career, something she said she wanted to do her entire life. Her forecast for Milly on the show at that point was hopeful, saying, "Personally I hope Milly is around for quite a while. I love the show."
However, it seems that Milly and Lucas just weren't meant to be, as Taylor left in 1962 and Patricia Blair stepped into the TV Western as the hotel owner Lou Mallory, distracting us from missing Milly and becoming the next lovely lady to exchange glances with the rancher.
Part of the reason why Taylor left was that her contract ended, but surely, she would've signed on for more episodes, if not for some other major changes happening in her personal life.
In the real world, Taylor was married to the very talented TV producer Leonard Freeman. In the Sixties, he wrote for Route 66 and produced acclaimed series like The Untouchables and movies like Hang 'Em High, and he was just getting to that point in his career where he could pitch his own series.
His mother-in-law didn't know what his show should be about, but she knew just where its setting should be.
She was living in Hawaii and she wanted her daughter, whose stage name was Joan but whose real name was Rose, to leave Hollywood behind and come back home.
Leonard Freeman liked the idea because he knew that a TV show set in Hawaii could work, as he was a fan of Hawaiian Eye. He also thought sophisticated audiences in the Sixties would enjoy watching a show authentically filmed in Hawaii.
That's how the idea for Hawaii Five-O was born: because a mother-in-law just wanted her family to move closer so she could spend time with her grandkids!
Once Freeman got the green light to do the series, he couldn't wait to reunite his family in the 50th state, and Rose, newly free from obligations with her contract ended on The Rifleman, ditched her stage name and flew out to Hawaii, quitting acting for good to become a mom and hang with her mom.
Her final appearance on TV was a stray episode of 77 Sunset Strip that aired in 1963, called "Scream Softly, Dear."
In Hawaii, Rose's husband Leonard had himself a hit with Hawaii Five-O, seemingly charmed by the noble act of following his mother-in-law's advice.
The couple enjoyed about a decade together in Hawaii. Then, in 1974, Leonard died during heart surgery. He was one of the most respected TV writers in America, serving as president of the Writers Guild of America, with more than 300 scripts to his name, but very few people heard of his passing. Freeman kept his private life private.
The day after Rose lost Leonard, Jack Lord made his directorial debut with an episode Leonard helped him cut. He called Leonard to thank him and check in after his surgery, but even the star of the show hadn't yet heard the news.
When Leonard's wife Rose passed away in 2012, she was still considered part of the Hawaii Five-O family. The modern reboot dedicated an episode that year "In Loving Memory of Rose Freeman."