Jeff Connors was the second of four sons of Chuck and Elizabeth Connors. The friendship between Levy-Gardner-Laven Productions and Jeff dates back to the earliest days of production of THE RIFLEMAN, when he accompanied his dad to the set. The crew and producers remember him as an energetic and outgoing boy, so at age 7, he was given a role in the first of three episodes, debuting in "Tension" (episode 45) in Season 2. In the third season, he appeared in "The Schoolteacher" (episode 86), followed by "First Wages" (episode 112) in Season 4.
Jeff had fond recollections of being a child actor on the series and being excited when CBS production crews came out to the family home to film a documentary about his father Chuck. Jeff was proud to bear the family name Connors and to be the son of the television star who had created the iconic character of Lucas McCain. He wrote, "It was cool being The Rifleman’s real son."
Like his make-believe television counterpart, Johnny Crawford, who portrayed Chuck Connor's on-screen son Mark, Jeff grew up to pursue an interest in music. He was a self-taught musician, but counted Waylon Jennings, Vern Gosdin, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Jr. and David Allan Coe as his musical mentors. A singer/songwriting guitarist with his own band, he opened for some of the biggest headliners in Pop and Country & Western music, including The Everly Brothers, Johnny Paycheck, Shenandoah and Mark Collie.
Throughout his life, Jeff felt a keen responsibility toward his father's fans and to the fans of The Rifleman series. He was always warm and friendly toward fans who wanted to tell him about his dad and what his character and the show had meant to them. After Chuck passed away in 1992, Jeff continued to do all he could to honor his real-life father's memory and the legacy of his most famous character, Lucas McCain, and so he did interviews, made personal appearances and stayed in close contact with his television family at Four Star Productions (later, Levy-Gardner-Laven Productions), which created and produced the original series.
Jeff passed away on February 19, 2014 at his Southern California home. His family at Levy-Gardner-Laven Productions are deeply saddened by his passing. He is survived by his older brother Michael, younger brother Steven and three children, sons Thomas Jeffrey and Cole Michael, and daughter Nicole Marie. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and legions of fans, especially this Father's Day, for the untimely passing of a loving son, brother, father and friend.
Levy-Gardner-Laven Productions' Chairman Emeritus Arthur Gardner with Jeff Connors in 2012.
Chuck and son Jeff during production of Tension, episode 45 of The Rifleman.