Johnny Crawford, ‘Rifleman’ child star, original Mouseketeer, dead at 75

Johnny Crawford, who played Chuck Connors’ son on “The Rifleman” television series and an original Mouseketeer, died Thursday. He was 75.

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“It is with great sadness and heaviness of heart that the Johnny Crawford Legacy team announce the passing of Johnny Crawford,” Crawford’s family posted on the actor’s Legacy website. “He passed away peacefully this evening, April 29, 2021, with Charlotte, his wife, by his side.”

Crawford starred in “The Rifleman” from 1958 to 1963, playing Mark McCain, the son of Civil War veteran Lucas McCain, played by Connors. He starred in all 168 episodes of the series, and at age 13 was nominated in the best supporting actor (continuing character) in a dramatic series category at the Primetime Emmys in 1959, Variety reported.

It is with great sadness and heaviness of heart that the Johnny Crawford Legacy team announces the passing of Johnny...

Posted by Johnny Crawford Legacy on Thursday, April 29, 2021

Crawford’s career began in 1955 when he was cast as one of the 24 original Mouseketeers in the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club, Entertainment Weekly reported. He appeared in 17 episodes over two seasons (1955-56), according to IMDb.com.

Other TV roles included appearances in “The Lone Ranger,” “Cavalcade of America” and “The Count of Monte Cristo,” Variety reported. After “The Rifleman,” Crawford had roles in “Rawhide,” “Hawaii Five-O” and “The Big Valley.”

Crawford’s paternal grandfather worked for Irving Berlin, and his maternal grandmother was a lead violinist in Germany and Belgium before World War I, Entertainment Weekly reported.

Crawford also won a recording contract with Del-Fi records and scored a hit in 1962, “Cindy’s Birthday,” which rose to No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 13 weeks on the charts.

Crawford was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2019, Variety reported. He later contracted COVID-19 and then pneumonia.

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