Birthday: March 26, 1946
Died At Age: 75
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: John Ernest Crawford
Born in: Los Angeles, California, United States
Famous as: Actor
Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Charlotte Crawford (m. 1995)
father: Robert Crawford
mother: Betty Megerlin
siblings: Nance Scott, Robert L. Crawford Jr.
Died on: April 29, 2021
place of death: United States
Ancestry: Belgian Americans
Diseases & Disabilities: Pneumonia, Alzheimer's
Cause of Death: Deaths From The COVID-19 Pandemic
U.S. State: California
City: Los Angeles
Who was Johnny Crawford?
John Ernest “Johnny” Crawford is an American actor, musician, and singer. He rose to prominence for playing Mark McCain in the hit ABC series ‘The Rifleman’. The series, which depicted the story of a widowed farmer and his son on the frontier, was a huge success. It ran for five years and earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Born in a family of performers, Crawford first performed before an audience as one of the Mouseketeers on Walt Disney’s ‘The Mickey Mouse Club.’ Besides being a talented actor, he is also a skilled musician and has performed in a California-based vintage dance orchestra. He is a singer as well and has released a number of singles during his recording career. In 1999, Crawford retired from the entertainment industry and has since then maintained a low profile. His personal life has been devoid of any major controversy.
Childhood & Early Life
Johnny Crawford was born as John Ernest Crawford on March 26, 1946 in Los Angeles, California, to Betty and Robert Lawrence Crawford, Sr. He grew up alongside three siblings: Corydon, Robert and Nance. He is of Russian, English, German and Irish ancestry.
He attended Hollywood High School and graduated from there in 1964.
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Johnny Crawford started out as one of the 24 original Mouseketeers for The Walt Disney Company’s ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ in 1955. At the end of the first season, he was released from his contract.
He got his first major break as an actor with the titular role in NBC’s live broadcast "Little Boy Lost" on March 15, 1956. That year, the actor was also featured in the hit series ‘The Lone Ranger’.
He worked steadily with a number of seasoned directors in the ensuing years and also worked as a freelancer for a while. In the late 1950s, Crawford had roles in NBC's ‘The Loretta Young Show’, the crime drama ‘Sheriff of Cochise’, CBS's sitcom ‘Mr. Adams and Eve’ and the syndicated drama series ‘Whirlybirds’.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, he had a notable recording career that generated a number of hit singles including "Cindy's Birthday" which reached #8 on the Billboard Top 40 list, "Rumors" that charted at #12, "Your Nose is Gonna Grow," which peaked at #14, and "Proud".
In the year 1965, Crawford played Jeff in an episode of ‘Mister Ed.’ He released the non-album single "Am I Too Young” the same year. Among his films, he featured in the adventure flick ‘Indian Paint’ and ‘The Restless Ones’.
The actor was cast for Howard Hawks’ movie ‘El Dorado’ that was released in 1967. The same year, he came up with his single "Angelica".
He served in the United States Army for two years and worked there as a script supervisor, occasional actor, production coordinator, and assistant director. His rank was that of a sergeant at the moment of his discharge in December 1967.
Crawford played a soldier in an episode titled "By the Numbers" of the popular series ‘Hawaii Five-O’ in 1968.
In the year 1970, he appeared in ‘The Resurrection of Broncho Billy’, a USC student film produced by his close friend John Longenecker. The flick won the Academy Award for the Best Live Action Short Subject that year.
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The actor did the movie ‘The Naked Ape’ in 1973. This partially animated comedy movie was directed by Donald Driver. It also starred Victoria Principal, Diana Darrin, Dennis Olivieri, John Hillerman and Norman Grabowski.
In 1976, Crawford was featured as Ben Shelby in the episode "The Hunters" of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ in its season 3.
He starred as Noah Paisley in the crime drama series ‘Murder, She Wrote’ in 1985. It was a crime drama television series that starred Angela Lansbury as mystery writer. The show went on to become a highly successful one during its run.
Since 1992, he has been leading a California-based vintage orchestra which plays at special events under the name “Johnny Crawford Orchestra” or JCO. The orchestra was chosen for fifteen consecutive annual Art Directors Guild Awards functions in Beverly Hills. Its first album titled ‘Sweepin' the Clouds Away’ came out in August 2012.
In 1958, Johnny Crawford was cast as Mark McCain, the young son of Lucas McCain, played by Chuck Connors in the series ‘The Rifleman.’ The series that was produced by Four Star Television showed a remarkable on-screen chemistry between Crawford and Connors as the son-father duo and both garnered much appreciation for their respective performances.
'The Rifleman’ was one of the first drama series on the American television to showcase a single parent raising a child. It ran on ABC from September 1958 to April 1963.
Family & Personal Life
Johnny Crawford’s elder brother Robert L. Crawford Jr. was an actor who appeared alongside him in NBC's ‘Laramie’ series. Later, the brothers and their father Robert Lawrence Crawford, Sr., were nominated for Emmy Awards for their acting and film editing credits respectively.
His maternal grandfather was the popular violinist Alfred Eugene Megerlin, who served as a concertmaster of the Minneapolis Symphony, New York Philharmonic and The Los Angeles Philharmonic.
In the early seventies, Johnny Crawford was in a relationship with Debra Tate, the sister of actress Sharon Tate.
In 1990, he reconnected with and began dating his former high school sweetheart Charlotte Samco. The couple married on February 14, 1995. They eventually separated. Currently, the actor is in a romantic relationship with actress Kim Darby. The actor doesn’t have children.
This entertainer’s acting mentor and influencer was Chuck Connors.
This actor had a key role in the early entertainment career of Victoria Jackson. He presented her with a ticket to California and motivated her to enter Hollywood. This led Jackson to appear in a number of shows including the ‘Tonight Show’ and ‘Saturday Night Live.’
He was profiled in Fred Ascher and Kathy Garver’s book "X Child Stars: Where Are They Now?" which was released in 2016.