Original Mouseketeer and star of The Rifleman Johnny Crawford dies at the age of 75

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Original Mouseketeer Johnny Crawford died Thursday at the age of 75

Original Mouseketeer Johnny Crawford died Thursday at the age of 75

Johnny Crawford, the former child actor who was an original Mouseketeer and young star of The Rifleman, has died after battling Alzheimer’s. He was 75.

Crawford passed away peacefully in a nursing home in California on Thursday with wife Charlotte by his side, his management said in a statement statement.

In 1955 he was only 11 when he joined the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club as one of the 24 original Mouseketeers. After the first season, the show cut its cast members in half and Crawford was released from his contract.

Crawford was praised for playing the young Mark McCain on ABC’s western series The Rifleman, earning his first Emmy nomination at the age of 13.

The show, which ran for five seasons, was praised for portraying the father-son relationship between Mark and Lucas McCain, played by Chuck Connors, and the two actors remained lifelong friends.

In 1955, Crawford was only 11 when he joined the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club as one of the 24 original Mouseketeers.

His contract was dropped after the first season after producers cut the show's cast in half

In 1955, Crawford was only 11 when he joined the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club as one of the 24 original Mouseketeers.

Crawford was praised for playing the young Mark McCain on ABC's western series The Rifleman, earning his first Emmy nomination at the age of 13.

Crawford was praised for playing the young Mark McCain on ABC’s western series The Rifleman, earning his first Emmy nomination at the age of 13.

When Connors died in 1992, Crawford delivered a eulogy at his memorial service.

“Really, it’s such a healthy show – a healthy show,” Crawford said of The Rifleman in one 2018 interview.

And Chuck was so perfect. You know, I still miss him. He was unique – I’ll never meet anyone like him again, ”he continued.

He tried to be a good influence for me, even off camera. And he treated me like an adult when we were at work. He made it much easier than it might have been. He was a lot of fun. ‘

John Ernest Crawford was born on March 26, 1946 in Los Angeles, the son of Betty and Robert Lawrence Crawford Sr, a Hollywood film editor.

Through his work on The Rifleman, Crawford became an accomplished horseman, landing roles in Western films, including Indian Paint (1965) and 1967’s El Dorado, in which he was shot by John Wayne’s character.

Crawford went on to appear in Western films, including Indian Paint (1965) and El Dorado from 1967. Above, he appears at the Silver Spur Awards in 2018.

Crawford went on to appear in Western films, including Indian Paint (1965) and El Dorado from 1967. Above, he appears at the Silver Spur Awards in 2018.

After completing the filming on El Dorado, Crawford enlisted in the United States Army in December 1965, where he mainly worked on the production of training films for other soldiers after completing basic training at Fort Bliss.

He received an honorable discharge in the rank of Sergeant in December 1967.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Crawford pursued a side career as a musician, recording five albums and at least 15 singles.

His best-known single, Rumors, peaked at # 2 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts.

In 1992 Crawford resumed his music career with the Johnny Crawford Orchestra, a vintage dance orchestra that performed at special events.

Crawford's Alzheimer's diagnosis was revealed in 2019, when a friend launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay the cost of his care

Crawford draws Mouseketeer portraits in 2010

Crawford’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was revealed in 2019, when a friend launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay the cost of his care

After staying single for a long time, Crawford reconnected with his high school sweetheart Charlotte in 1990, and the couple married in 1995.

Crawford’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was revealed in 2019, when a friend launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the costs of his care.

Crawford got COVID-19 while living in a memory care home, then contracted pneumonia. He was temporarily placed in a skilled nursing facility before being moved to “an excellent, smaller nursing home close to his wife,” his management said.

“As cruel as Alzheimer’s is, Johnny still has that warm smile and sparkle in his eyes, and he’s surrounded by people who love him unconditionally,” his management said in a statement before his death.

Crawford leaves behind his wife Charlotte and brother Bobby.

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