Writer: Arthur Browne, Jr.
Director: Gene Nelson
Original Air Date 12/25/1961
Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain
Johnny Crawford as Mark McCain
Paul Fix as Marshal Micah Torrance
Parley Baer was an American radio, film and television actor. He performed in more than 250 movies and television shows in a career spanning nearly six decades. Baer began his career as a performer with the circus and developed an affinity for animals, both of which became lifelong interests. During fallow periods in his acting career, he returned to performing with circus and animal acts, serving as a ringmaster for Circus Vargas and Barnum & Bailey, a board member of the community L.A. Circus, a docent at the Los Angeles Zoo, publicity writer for Al. G. Barnes Circus, and performing in an act with seven tigers at Jungleland in Thousand Oaks, California.
In his early career, Baer also worked in the radio industry, later founding the Pioneer Pacific Broadcasters with Ralph Edwards, who went on to have a long television career. He played the role of Chester in the radio version of "Gunsmoke" (1952–1961), a role played by Dennis Weaver in the long-running classic TV western series. Baer had recurring roles in several series, including Darby in "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet" (1955–1965), Mayor Arthur J. Henson in "The Addams Family(1964–1966), "The Dukes of Hazzard" (1981–1984) and Buck in "Newhart" (1984–1987). He also guest-starred in numerous other popular TV series, often making multiple appearances playing different characters in a variety of genres, including the crime drama, "Perry Mason" (1957–1966) and numerous comedy series, including "Hogan's Heroes" (1965–1969), "Petticoat Junction" (1965–1970) and "Bewitched" (1966–1972). Baer made two appearances in THE RIFLEMAN, portraying Walter Mathers in "A Matter of Faith" (episode 34) and Neff Parker in "A Friend in Need" (episode 123). In addition to THE RIFLEMAN, Baer guest-starred in many other western series, including "Have Gun – Will Travel" (1957–1963), "Bonanza" (1959–1973) and "The Virginian" (1962–1971).
Lee Farr was an American actor who primarily worked in television. During his 20 years as an actor, Farr appeared in a few movies and over 30 television shows, including several episodes of "Perry Mason" (1957–1966). Farr made two appearances on THE RIFLEMAN, playing Sam Montgomery in "Home Ranch" (episode 2) and Carl Avery in "A Friend in Need" (episode 123). In addition to THE RIFLEMAN, Farr also acted in the westerns "Lawman" (1958–1962), "The Restless Gun" (1957–1959) and "Bonanza" (1959–1973).
Thomas "Tom" Snyder was an American news anchor, as well as radio and television personality who appeared in just three television shows during his 40-year career. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, having majored in journalism. In the 1960s, he was a local news anchor in Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York City and Los Angeles. After segueing into late night television in the early 1970s, he continued to anchor the news.
Snyder came to national fame as a fixture in late night television, hosting the long-running "Tomorrow Show" (1973–1982), and later "The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder" (1995–1998). Later, Dan Aykroyd would parody him and his laconic chain-smoking interview style and spontaneous bursts of laughter on "Saturday Night Live." In between his late night stints, Snyder anchored the news in broadcast television and hosted a radio talk show, eventually yielding both media to a new generation of hosts (Rush Limbaugh in radio and David Letterman in broadcast). He made one appearance in THE RIFLEMAN, portraying Pete in "A Friend in Need" (episode 123).
Joan Taylor was an American actress born to a family in the entertainment business. Her mother, Amelia Berky, was a vaudeville dancer and singer in the 1920s. Her father operated a movie theater, which inspired in her an abiding interest in the movies from an early age. Taylor came to Hollywood in 1946 and worked on the stage at the Pasadena Playhouse for four years. Discovered by Victor Jory when she played Regina in "Another Part of the Forest," she was contracted to Paramount Studios where she appeared in several Western pictures. She guest-starred in numerous television series in the 1950s and early 60s, retiring from acting in 1962.
Taylor appeared in 18 episodes of THE RIFLEMAN between 1960 and 1962, playing Milly Scott, Owner of the General Store, which she bought from Hattie Denton. An attractive young woman who figured as a love interest for Lucas McCain, her character was introduced in "Miss Milly" (episode 84).
Harlan Warde was an American actor who appeared in 180 films and television series over a 40 year career. Most of his early film roles were uncredited. He appeared in 18 episodes of THE RIFLEMAN, portraying John Hamilton, President of the North Fork Bank. His character debuted in "The Safeguard" (episode 8). Warde had recurring roles in other television series, many in the Western genre. Among his many other TV credits, he also appeared in "Dragnet" ( 1954), "You Are There" (1953–1956), "Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre" (1955 1957), "Perry Mason" (1958–1966), "The Virginian" (1962–1971), "Bonanza" (1962–1972), "The Big Valley" (1965–1969) and "The Fugitive" (1966 1967).
Lucas is stunned when Mark is kidnapped and a $5,0000 ransom is asked for his return. Unable to pay the exorbitant amount, he mortgages his ranch to a long-time friend to get the money, but when he delivers the ransom, he finds his "friend" is part of the sinister plot.