Actor Johnny Crawford, an original Mouseketeer known for playing Chuck Connors’ son in “The Rifleman” TV series from 1958-63, has died at age 75, his family announced Friday.
Crawford, who lived in the Glendale area, died Thursday evening with Charlotte, his wife, by his side, according to family members.
A cause of death was not given, but Crawford had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2019 before he contracted COVID-19 and then pneumonia, according to information posted to his official website.
“We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from friends and fans around the world,” a posting on the website reads. “Johnny touched so many people, through his music and his performances. We are truly blessed that they remain as his legacy.”
In “The Rifleman,” Crawford played Mark McCain, son of Civil War veteran Lucas McCain, played by Connors. He was nominated for best supporting actor (continuing character) in a dramatic series at the Primetime Emmys in 1959. He was 13 at the time.
Crawford began his career in 1955 as one of the original 24 Mouseketeers in the first season of ABC’s “The Mickey Mouse Club.” When the show reduced the number of Mousketeers, Crawford was cut from the show.
Later on, Crawford made appearances in television shows and films including “Hawaii Five-O,” “The Naked Ape,” “The Lone Ranger” and “The Count of Monte Cristo.”
He also launched a musical career in his teens, and his hit song “Cindy’s Birthday” reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962.
Crawford grew up in Hollywood and attended Hollywood High School. Numerous emails from classmates Friday recalled a “cute” student who was friendly and nice, even though they were a little awed by the star in their classes. Some students recalled Crawford lending his horse to the school for a play in the auditorium.
Crawford in past years let his own big band focused on older music.
Crawford is survived by his wife and brother Bobby.
Memorial services were not immediately announced.