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First Wages
Episode 112
Writer: Ed Adamson
Director: Gene Nelson
Original Air Date 10/09/1961


Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain

Johnny Crawford as Mark McCain

Paul Fix as Marshal Micah Torrance

Guest Cast
Joe Higgins as Nils Swenson
Joe Higgins as Nils Swenson

Joe Higgins was an American actor working primarily in television and commercials from the 1960's through the 1980's.  His acting career began at age nine and while attending the University of Dayton in Ohio, he worked in radio.  He became a prolific character actor who often portrayed a sheriff in commercials, public service announcements and in print ads.  He won the CLIO award on two occasions for his acting in commercials.  His portrayal as a sheriff, "You in a heap o' trouble, boy!," in a series of memorable Dodge car commercials in the 1970's became his iconic signature role.

Higgins appeared in four episodes of THE RIFLEMAN playing different characters, and he played the semi-regular character, Nils Swenson, the Blacksmith, in 16 episodes.  He played recurring roles on other television series in addition to THE RIFLEMAN, including "Arrest and Trial" and later, he co-starred again with Chuck Connors in "Flipper" and "Geronimo."

Troy Melton as Wally Pierson

Troy Melton was an American actor who worked primarily in television, as well as a stuntman.  He appeared in 110 movies and television shows during a career spanning more than five decades.  As a stuntman, he performed the stunts for several popular shows, including the westerns "The Lone Ranger" (1949–1957) and "Bonanza" (1959–1973), in addition to serving as a stunt double for Kent Taylor in the crime drama "Boston Blackie" (1951–1953) and Duncan Renaldo in the western "The Cisco Kid" (1950–1956).

Melton guest-starred in many popular television shows of the 1950s through the 80s, including the legal drama "Perry Mason" (1957–1966), the detective drama "Richard Diamond: Private Detective" (1957–1960), the action crime drama "Highway Patrol" (1955–1959), the mystery action series "Peter Gunn" (1958–1961), the nautical action adventure "Sea Hunt" (1958–1961), the anthology series "The Outer Limits" (1963–1965), the superhero parody "Batman" (1966–1968), the family comedy "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960–1968), the western action adventure "The Wild Wild West" (1965–1969), the police drama "Mod Squad" (1968–1973), the adventure drama "It Takes a Thief" (1968–1970), the crime drama "Mannix" (1967–1975), the espionage thriller "Mission: Impossible" (1966–1973) and the family drama "Little House on the Prairie" (1974–1983).

Melton made two appearances in THE RIFLEMAN, portraying Wally Pierson in "First Wages" (episode 112) and Ab Richards in "Deadly Image" (episode 132).  He guest-starred in many other westerns, including "Maverick" (1957–1962), "Zane Grey Theater" (1956–1961), "Wanted: Dead or Alive" (1958–1961), "Cheyenne" (1955–1963), "Tales of Wells Fargo" (1957–1962), "Have Gun – Will Travel" (1957–1963), "Bat Masterson" (1958–1961), "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (1955–1961), "Branded" (1965–1966), "The Big Valley" (1965–1969), "Bonanza" (1959–1973) and "Gunsmoke" (1955–1975).

Ed Nelson as Ben Vargas

Ed Nelson, born Edwin Stafford Nelson, was an American stage, film and television actor.  He appeared in 185 movies and television shows during a career spanning 50 years.  He interrupted his undergraduate career at Tulane University, New Orleans, to spend two years studying at the New York School of Radio and Television Technique; however, at age 71 he returned to Tulane to complete his coursework and earn a degree.  While living and working in Los Angeles, Nelson was active in the Screen Actors Guild and was a board member for many years.  He remained a long-standing member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Nelson appeared in many films, including several Roger Corman horrors, such as "Attack of the Crab Monsters" (1957), "Teenage Cave Man" (1958), "Cry Baby Killers" (1959) and "A Bucket of Blood" (1959), as well as film classics, such as the historical WWII drama "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961), starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster and Richard Widmark, and the disaster epic "Airport 1975" (1974), starring Charlton Heston, Karen Black and George Kennedy.  He also appeared in the family adventure "For the Love of Benji" (1977) and the dramatic thriller "Runaway Jury" (2003), starring John Cusack, Rachel Weisz and Gene Hackman.  Nelson spent several years portraying President Harry Truman on stage, replacing James Whitmore in "Give 'Em Hell, Harry."

Nelson guest-starred in many popular television shows of the 1950s through the 90s, including the action series "Highway Patrol" (1955–1959), Rod Serling's iconic anthology series, "The Twilight Zone" (1959–1964), the crime dramas "77 Sunset Strip" (1958–1964), "Arrest and Trial" (1963–1964) and "Jake and the Fatman" (1987–1992), the medical drama "Dr. Kildare" (1961–1966), the sci-fi anthology series "The Outer Limits" (1963–1965), the war drama "Combat!" (1962–1967) , the adventure series "The Fugitive" (1963–1967), the action undercover police series "Mod Squad" (1968–1973), the family dynasty drama "Dallas" (1978–1991), and the Aaron Spelling action detective series "Charlie's Angels" (1976–1981).  Nelson is best remembered for his portrayal of Michael Rossi in the primetime soap opera "Peyton Place" (1964–1969).  He also had another recurring role as Ward Fuller in the adventure series "The Silent Force" (1970–1971).

Nelson made three appearances in THE RIFLEMAN, portraying Stacy Beldon in "Dead Cold Cash" (episode 85), Jake Shaw in "The Illustrator" (episode 88) and Ben Varges in "First Wages" (episode 112).  He guest-starred in many other westerns, including "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (1955–1961), "The Deputy" (1959–1961), "Zane Grey Theater" (1956–1961), "Have Gun – Will Travel" (1957–1963), "Bat Masterson" (1958–1961), "Tales of Wells Fargo" (1957–1962), "Maverick" (1957–1962), "Bonanza" (1959–1973), "Death Valley Days" (1952–1975), "Rawhide" (1959–1966), "The Virginian" (1962–1971), "Laramie" (1959–1963), "Wagon Train" (1957–1965), and "Gunsmoke" (1955–1975).

David M. Rodman as Merar

David M. Rodman appeared in one episode of THE RIFLEMAN, portraying Merar in "First Wages" (episode 112).

Glenn Ryle as Ed, a Townsman

Glenn Ryle was a television personality in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He served in the United States Marines during World War II and was recalled to active duty during the Korean War.  In the interim, Ryle worked as a civilian advisor for the Israeli military while the territory was being developed.  He is best-remembered for hosting "The Skipper Ryle Show," a very popular children's show.  He made one appearance in THE RIFLEMAN, portraying Ed the townsman in "First Wages" (episode 112).

The warm relationship between Lucas and his son Mark undergoes some troubled times when Mark takes a job against his father's wishes.  Complications ensue when Mark disregards his employer's advice and takes a back road shortcut while on an errand, then finds himself face to face with a deadly bank robber.