Johnny Crawford, ‘The Rifleman’ Child Star and Mouseketeer, Dies at 75

Actor suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and contracted COVID-19 and pneumonia

Johnny Crawford Young and Old
Getty Images

Johnny Crawford, a child star known for the Western show “The Rifleman” and who starred as one of the original “Mickey Mouse Club” Mouseketeers, has died. He was 75.

Crawford died on Thursday evening after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and from recently contracting COVID-19 followed by pneumonia. He died with his wife Charlotte by his side in a small nursing facility care home. His death was announced on his website.

Born into a musical family, Johnny Crawford was raised as a performer and landed his first gig as one of 24 kids named Mouseketeers on “The Mickey Mouse Club” in 1955, though he was released from his contract after one season and 16 episodes when the show reduced to just 12 kids.

After appearing as a child actor on numerous TV shows, amassing dozens of credits, he landed a role as Mark McCain on “The Rifleman,” acting as the lead character’s son alongside Chuck Connors in the show that ran for five years and 168 episodes. He was even Emmy-nominated for his work in the Best Supporting Actor field, scoring a nomination the same year as his brother Bobby and his father Robert were also nominated in other categories.

During his time on “The Rifleman,” Crawford began a recording career and even sang on some of the later seasons of the show. He recorded three albums with the label Del-Fi and produced eight singles that made the Billboard Top 100 charts, including “Cindy’s Birthday” from 1962 that topped out at #8.

Later in his life beginning in 1992, Crawford led the Johnny Crawford Orchestra, which was based in California and would perform at events as a vintage dance orchestra.

Crawford also had a two-year stint in the Army and spent time working in the rodeo performing trick roping and bull riding.

Some of Crawford’s other film credits include “Indian Paint,” “The Restless Ones” and “El Dorado,” in which he had the distinction of being shot by John Wayne’s character.

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