PAUL FIX

— "MICAH TORRANCE"

Paul Fix was an American film and television actor who was highly recognizable for his work in a variety of genres, but especially westerns and his best known role playing Marshal Micah Torrance in THE RIFLEMAN.  Fix appeared in more than 100 movies and dozens of television shows during a 56-year career beginning in 1925.   He appeared in numerous silent pictures but garnered his first credited screen role for an appearance in "The First Kiss" (1928), starring Fay Wray and Gary Cooper.

A veteran of World War I, Fix became a busy character actor who got his start in local productions around his New York home, then in California, appearing in Pauline Frederick's traveling theater company.  During this period he became friends with Clark Gable, with whom he appeared in 20 plays.  By the 1920s, after moving to Hollywood, Fix began performing in the first of almost 350 films and television shows.  In the 1930's, he became friends with John Wayne, coaching him acting, and eventually appearing as a featured player in about 27 of his films.

Fix's early film credits include "Lucky Star" (1929) and "Ladies Love Brutes" (1930).  He became a regular performer for "Lucky Star" director Frank Borzage on eight more films.  In two of his favorite films roles, Fix later appeared as Richard Bravo in the 1956 cult classic, "The Bad Seed," starring Patty McCormack, and also in the 1956 George Stevens epic film version of Edna Ferber's book "Giant," playing Elizabeth Taylor's father.  Reportedly, his other favorites parts included playing the stricken passenger Frank Briscoe in the John Wayne picture "The High and the Mighty" (1954) and Judge Taylor in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962).

Fix is beloved and best remembered for his role as Marshal Micah Torrance on the ABC western series THE RIFLEMAN, appearing in 150 of 168 episodes.  His character was introduced in episode 4, "The Marshal."  He brought great pathos and sympathy to the role of a recovering alcoholic turned lawman, and several episodes featured storylines relating to his earlier life, wrestling with his demons and his road to redemption.  Roles in westerns became a signature for Fix.  Among the numerous other western TV series in which he appeared were "Gunsmoke" (1956–1957), "Wagon Train" (1958–1964), "Death Valley Days" (1965–1966), "The Big Valley" (1965–1969), "The Wild Wild West" (1966–1967), "Bonanza" (1967–1971), "The Guns of Will Sonnett" (1967–1968) and "The High Chaparral" (1967–1968).

 

 

Fix appeared in scores of other television shows, including "The Adventures of Superman" (1953–1954), the short-lived detective series, "Meet McGraw" (1957), "Perry Mason" (1957–1963), "Northwest Passage" (1958), "Dante" (1961), "The Dupont Show with June Allyson" (1961), "The Twilight Zone" (1964), "The F.B.I." (1965–1973), "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" (1966), "The Time Tunnel" (1966), "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" (1969–1971), "The Streets of San Francisco" (1973–1975), "Barnaby Jones" (1974–1975) and "The Rockford Files" (1978).  He played Dr. Mark Piper, Dr. Leonard McCoy's predecessor in the second pilot episode of "Star Trek" (1966).  When NBC picked up "Star Trek" as a series, Fix was replaced by DeForest Kelly in his most well-known role, the "Enterprise" medical officer, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy.

In addition to his numerous acting credits, Fix was also a screenwriter, with writing credits for three films: the John Wayne film "Tall in the Saddle" (1944), "Ring of Fear" (1954) and "The Notorious Mr. Monks" (1958).  In 1979, Fix made his last film appearance co-starring with Brooke Shields in the title role in "Wanda Nevada."  His last acting role was in 1981 on the television series "Quincy M.E." starring Jack Klugman.  He passed away in Los Angeles, California in 1983.

 

 

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