|Birth: ||1928, USA|
|Death: ||Aug. 25, 2006|
Look closely at the stunts in the old TV show "The Rifleman." Notice how Chuck Connors never loses his hat.
That's because Connors didn't do his own fighting. He also didn't fall off horses.
The stuntman could have been Cincinnati native Fred "Fritz" Apking, a Reading High School athlete who became an actor and stuntman.
He was one of several stuntmen in the Emmy-winning cowboy series that ran from 1958 to 1963.
Because his hair was darker than Connors', Mr. Apking wore a hat wired tightly to his head so viewers wouldn't catch on. He told Enquirer reporter John Erardi in a 2001 interview that when he doffed his hat, he had a red line where the metal pressed into his forehead.
Mr. Apking, 78, died in his sleep at his Amberley Village home Aug. 25. The cause has not been determined.
In Hollywood, he was variously credited as Frederick, Fred or Fritz Ford or as Fritz Apking.
He also played bit parts in "The Rifleman" and was Connors' stunt double in "Tomahawk Trail." He did Rock Hudson's stunts in "Magnificent Obsession." Mr. Apking also appeared in "Walking Tall," "The Rockford Files" and "Highway Patrol."
Mr. Apking played a neighbor in "National Lampoon's Vacation". He had a featured role in "Mr. Roberts" with James Cagney and Henry Fonda.
He was known as "Eagle Eye Fritz" at Reading High School where he competed in four sports.
At the state prep championships in Columbus in 1946 he won gold medals in the 220 low hurdles and the high jump. He also played center field for the baseball team that took the gold.
Mr. Apking received a football scholarship to Ohio State University, but left to serve in the Army. He contracted rheumatic fever and Army doctors told him he wouldn't play football again.
After his discharge, he enrolled at Fullerton College in California, where he not only played on the football team, but led the conference in scoring.
The University of Washington gave him a scholarship for his sophomore and junior years. He played left end and went to Honolulu with a team of all stars assembled by football legend Squirmin' Herman Wedemeyer.
Mr. Apking spent his summer breaks working in Hollywood.
After his junior year, the San Francisco 49ers offered him a spot on the team.
He decided to go to Hollywood instead.
He returned to Cincinnati in 2001 and bought a house in Amberley Village. He was a member of the Reading American Legion and the Reading Eagles.
He was a quick wit and a history buff, according to his brother, Albert Apking of Deer Park. "He loved to talk and always had a good story." But above all, "He loved life and pursued it."
He is also survived by sisters, Penny Wardell of Kenwood and Marion Donato.
-- REBECCA GOODMAN | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER --
Fred William Apking (1905 - 1975)
Frederick Apking (1928 - 2006)
Albert Apking (1951 - 2012)*
Saints Peter And Paul Cemetery
Created by: Shanna Nicole (inactive)
Record added: Sep 17, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 15786967