Part 2

Johnny tells about being the youth on "The Rifleman", his favorite episode, the end of the show, and his singing career.

Q: How was it working with adults and being the only child on the set?

JC: Well, I had been working for quite a long time before "The Rifleman", so it was really very, very happy for me to be doing a series. I had been wanting to do a series for a long time, especially a western, so I was just in heaven from the beginning and I thought I was extremely lucky. The only adjusting that was necessary really was getting to learn everybody's name. I had a great time and really never thought about the fact that I was a kid. In fact, I wasn't as young as I looked in those days and felt mature because I was working with adults all the time.

Q: I understand that your favorite episode was the one in which you had to decide whether to stay with your mother in heaven or return to your father.

JC: I really haven't seen it for many years, but at the time I remember thinking that it was very imaginative and unusual. Also at that time, one of my favorite shows was "The Twilight Zone", so that was where my tastes were. But an interesting thing about shooting that episode, which is called "The Vision"-I was actually ill. Normally it took us three days to do an episode and we worked like crazy, but I think it was on the first day of the show, I had a fever and I was trying to keep it a secret. I knew that if the lady who taught me on the set, who was also a welfare worker-it was her responsibility to see that if I was ill, I was removed from the set until I was in proper health. I didn't want to hold up production and all that, so I tried to keep it a secret from her, but I guess it became somewhat obvious. The particular scene that we were doing when she discovered or decided that I was really ill, was when they're supposed to be packing me in ice. I have a very high fever and they're trying to bring it down and I think that was the first scene we actually photographed for that episode. I guess she thought that I was doing an extremely good job of acting, so she had my temperature checked and I had a good one, so they had to send me home, and it took us nine days to finish that show.

Q: When "The Rifleman" was cancelled, they said it was do to low ratings or you were getting too old. What was the real story?

JC: You know, I never did know exactly why and I wasn't too concerned at the time, because after having done it for five years, I was anxious to do something else. I felt personally that the show was getting a little stale and that the scripts were not as good as they had been. The first season, I still think, was our best, and that was our best season in the ratings. It just lost its inspiration or something and perhaps I had lost some appeal to others. But at the same time, that was when I was doing quite well with my recordings, so I don't know. There had been talk of going on for one more season and trying it in color for an hour, and maybe they thought that would boost the ratings, making it more on the order of "Bonanza". It might have, but by then Chuck had gotten itchy to do something else and he was offered his series called "Arrest and Trial" which offered him a completely different type of character and time period, and he took that. It turned out not to be a successful move for him, but it's the move that I probably would have made.

Q: On "The Rifleman" you sometimes sang. What was your favorite song that you did?

JC: I think "Greensleeves" would be my favorite song that I did on the show, except that I was bothered that they changed the words. Now I don't remember exactly what the words were, but they rewrote them.

Q: Because the lyrics were too old for a young boy to sing?

JC: Possibly, but I think the musical director of the show wanted to get a writing credit.

Q: What was your favorite record in your recording career?

JC: I think some of the songs that I did on the albums that weren't released as singles were probably my favorites. I did a song that David Gates(Bread) wrote, called "Living in the Past" that I like, and several of the ballads that I sang on my "Rumours" album.


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