Actor/musician Johnny Crawford has died, announced by both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. He was best known for playing young Mark McCann, the son of rancher Lucas McCann (played by Chuck Connors) on The Rifleman from 1958 to 1963, and was one of the original Mouseketeers on the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club in 1955.
John Ernest Crawford was born March 26, 1946 in Los Angeles, CA. He passed away April 29, 2021.
At the age of 13, Johnny Crawford was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Mark McCann on The Rifleman. While not ignoring his acting career, Crawford focused on his singing in the 50’s and 60’s, with four songs making Billboard’s Top 40 list: “Cindy’s Birthday,” “Rumors,” “Your Nose is Gonna Grow,” and “Proud.”
As the co-star of The Rifleman, he was cast in many westerns: The Lone Ranger, Tales of Wells Fargo, Wagon Train, Rawhide, Big Valley, Paradise, and two of the Kenny Rogers Gambler movies. Naturally, he also did work in some science fiction, fantasy, and horror projects. In 1958 he appeared in The Space Children. In 1965 he was in Village of the Giants, with Tommy Kirk and Ronny Howard. In 1999 he was in the greatly underrated science fiction mystery The Thirteenth Floor. In 2004 he sang the song Easy Come, Easy Go in Hellboy. He performed that same song and three others in The Thirteenth Floor.
In the late ’80s TV show William Tell, aka Crossbow, he played Prince Ignatius. From 1992 on, he was the leader of the award-winning Johnny Crawford Orchestra. His final movie role was as William S. Hart in The Marshall, which also screened under the title of Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws (2019).
His diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease came in 2019; the cause of death has not been released yet, but he was known to have contracted COVID-19 and later pneumonia, so it’s a good bet that these were what finally overwhelmed him. He is survived by his wife, Charlotte Samco Crawford, and his brother actor/producer, Robert L. Crawford, Jr. (producer of The Parasite).
In terms of popular culture, Johnny Crawford was a towering figure. Do you have memories of Johnny Crawford you would like to share? Would you like to hear his music on SciFi.radio? Our DJ’s do take requests.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.