From 1958-1963, Johnny Crawford played Mark McCain on the hit ABC show The Rifleman, starring alongside Chuck Connors.
Crawford’s Mark McCain was the son of Civil War veteran and widower Lucas McCain. The show was one of the first in primetime to show a single parent raising a child. At age 13, Crawford was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor. That same year, his brother, Robert Crawford Jr. was up for Best Single Performance By An Actor for his work in Playhouse 90, and their father, Robert Crawford Sr, was nominated for film editing on The Bob Cummings Show.
The chemistry between Crawford and Connors was undeniable, with many people applauding the show for their depiction of the father-son relationship. Off camera, the two actors were very close and remained so until Connors’ death in 1992. Crawford even gave a eulogy at Connors’ memorial service.
Johnny and Chuck on the set of The Rifleman. pic.twitter.com/Zx6tk1oy9I
— Johnny Crawford Legacy (@JCrawfordLegacy) April 26, 2021
Prior to his work on The Rifleman, which began when he was 12, Crawford was an original cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club when he was just nine years old.
Throughout his career, he has appeared on the shows The Lone Ranger, Climax!, Matinee Theatre and The Loretta Young Show, Hawaii Five-O, Little House on the Prairie and Murder, She Wrote. He earned a starring role in 1957’s Courage of Black Beauty and acted alongside John Wayne in 1967’s El Dorado.
Once The Rifleman was canceled after five seasons, Crawford and Connors reunited on a 1965 episode of NBC’s Branded.
Crawford also had a recording contract with a few Top Ten singles to his name including “Rumors.”
In the 1990s, he became the band leader of the Johnny Crawford Orchestra.
In 2019, a GoFundMe set up for the actor revealed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. He passed away “peacefully this evening, April 29, 2021 with Charlotte, his wife, by his side,” according to an official announcement on his website.
A recent update on the website said, “As cruel as Alzheimer’s disease is, Johnny still has that warm smile and sparkle in his eyes, and he’s surrounded by people who love him unconditionally.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this time. See some tributes to the actor below.
My dear friend #JohnnyCrawford just passed away. I pray for his wife Charlotte as she was by his side. Johnny was a real cowboy and will be greatly missed. He was an original Mickey Mouse Club member and played the son on The Rifleman. pic.twitter.com/oNKeC5Ouac
— Scott Baio (@ScottBaio) April 30, 2021
Rest in Peace Mark
1946-2021 💛 pic.twitter.com/PhBzZ2Xneg
— The Rifleman (@TheRiflemanTV) April 30, 2021
Farewell to actor and musician Johnny Crawford at age 75. Crawford was best known for his Emmy-nominated role as young Mark McCain on “The Rifleman.” The father-son relationship between Crawford and Chuck Connors made the Western a television classic. #JohnnyCrawford pic.twitter.com/w3nIOtGRmD
— Kendall Wingrove (@WingroveKendall) April 30, 2021