Did you know? The first athlete-turned-actor was Chuck Connors. Connors played both baseball and basketball professionally before retiring in 1952. He decided to pursue acting, with his big break coming when he was cast as the lead role in the TV series The Rifleman, which aired for five seasons on ABC between 1958 and 1963. Connors’ acting career proved to be fruitful, with a total of 136 credits to his name before he succumbed to lung cancer in 1992.