Chuck Connors, the 'Rifleman', Pleasure Island 1961

  • Chuck Connors, the 'Rifleman', Pleasure Island 1961
  • "When Pleasure Island opened in June 1959, the main venue for entertainment was the Pepsi-sponsored Diamond Lil' Saloon. When new owners took over the park in 1960 and Pepsi opted out of its sponsorship, the entertainment venue switched to a new amphitheater known as the 'Show Bowl'. The venue attracted national stars, including Chuck Connors who played Lucas McCain in the Rifleman series from 1958 to 1963. According to the August 21, 1961 Billboard Amusement Business Magazine, more than 57,000 patrons paid more than $114,000 to see Connors in his six-day stand at the Show Bowl. Pleasure Island, it said, 'had the biggest week in its history because of good weather and Rifleman Chuck Connors...This broke all existing records for the park and topped the previous record held by the Three Stooges last year.' Television western-themed shows and Pleasure Island were sharing their heydays during this time period. Other cowboy stars, such as Wagon Train's Robert Horten, and Bonanza's Michael Landon performed at the Show Bowl, as did Boston's own Rex Trailer who was a familiar entertainer at Pleasure Island throughout the park's 11 seasons. In addition to playing the Rifleman, the 6'5" Connors, whose real name was Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors, played basketball for the Boston Celtics and minor league baseball before landing an acting career. Pleasure Island closed forever on Labor Day weekend 1969. At Pleasure Island, children and 'children-at-heart' entered into a world that traditional amusement parks could not provide, where character actors continually put on a show and the entire park was a stage!"
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 2014
  • Photo courtesy of Bob McLaughlin, Friends of Pleasure Island, Inc.
  • 1961
  • Wakefield, Mass. : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


“Chuck Connors, the 'Rifleman', Pleasure Island 1961,” Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield, Mass., accessed December 9, 2021,


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