R.I.P. Johnny Crawford, Mark McCain on The Rifleman and original Mouseketeer
The former teen idol was 75.
Johnny Crawford, best known for co-starring in The Rifleman along Chuck Connors, has passed away at the age of 75.
After becoming one of the original Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1955, Crawford landed the role as Mark McCain just three years later. He was nominated for an Emmy at 13 years old for his work as the son of single dad Lucas McCain, played by Chuck Conners. The two remained incredibly close after the series ended and Crawford even gave a eulogy at Connors' funeral in 1992.
Even at his young age, Crawford was a dedicated actor. In a 1982 interview with TV Collector, he named "The Vision" as his favorite in the long run of The Rifleman.
"At the time I remember thinking that it was very imaginative and unusual," Crawford said. "Also, at that time, one of my favorite shows was The Twilight Zone, so that was where my tastes were."
He adored the episode despite the painful process of filming it. Mark McCain was not the only one suffering from a fever — the actor himself was running a high temperature.
"I was actually ill," Crawford recalled. "Normally, it took us three days to do an episode and we worked like crazy, but I think it was on the first day of the show, I had a fever and I was trying to keep it a secret.
By that precocious age, he was a veteran of showbiz, not just for his work with Walt Disney, but also thanks to his pop career. Crawford scored five Top 40 hits in the early 1960s, the biggest of which was "Cindy's Birthday." The string-drenched love song peaked at No. 8 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1962.
His work on The Rifleman allowed him the chance to thrice work with his brother, Bobby Crawford, who appeared in three episodes, "Eight Hours to Die," "The Gaucho" and "The Second Witness." Mark's first crush on the show was also a reunion of sorts with another former Mouseketeer.
Aside from his notable run as Mark McCain, he also appeared on Rawhide, Hawaii Five-O, and The Big Valley.
Two years ago, after a two-decade absence from the screen, Crawford returned to his Western roots for a role in an indie Western, Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws.