Actor Chuck Connors, best known as the fast-shooting Lucas McCain on the long-running television series "The Rifleman," died Nov. 10 in Los Angeles. He was 71.
Mr. Connors, a cigarette smoker, was found to have lung cancer a few days ago after entering the hospital for treatment of lingering pneumonia, said his agent, Steven Stevens.
He appeared in at least 28 movies and was a longtime friend of former president Ronald Reagan, among other politicians.
Mr. Connors was a professional baseball player with the New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs before he went to the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.
In Hollywood, 0e picked up occasional roles in films, and he formally changed careers in 1953, after the success of "Pat and Mike," in which he appeared with Spencer Tracy and Kathryn Hepburn in 1952.
He picked up roles in other movies, including "Target Zero" in 1954 and "Hold Back the Night" in 1956.
But his career didn't take off until "The Rifleman" TV series, which ran from 1958 to 1963. Mr. Connors, playing a New Mexico homesteader raising a son, played by Johnny Crawford, battled villains with the aid of a fast-cocking Winchester rifle.
In a 1983 interview, Mr. Connors said he didn't mind being remembered most for "The Rifleman."
"It's no problem at all for me. My whole ability to make a living is derived from the fact that I was 'The Rifleman,' " the actor said.
Mr. Connors also starred in the "Arrest and Trial" television series in 1963 and the "Branded" series from 1964 to 1965. His many TV guest star roles included the Emmy-nominated role as the lustful slave owner Tom Moore in the "Roots" miniseries. He had roles in several other TV movies in the late 1970s.
Mr. Connors also appeared in the films "Designing Woman" in 1957, "Geronimo" in 1962, "Move Over Darling" in 1963, "Soylent Green" in 1972 and "Airplane 2: The Sequel" in 1982.
Mr. Connors once contemplated entering politics. He decided not to, he said, "because from being around so many politicians, I became a little cynical about politicians in general."
In 1973, he had a much-publicized encounter with a world leader. During a poolside party at President Nixon's Western White House in San Clemente, Mr. Connors was greeted with a bearhug by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The actor gave Brezhnev two six-shooters.
Born Kevin Joseph Connors on April 10, 1921, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Connors was married and divorced three times. He is survived by four sons.