Johnny Crawford

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Johnny Crawford
Johnny Crawford 1963.jpg
Crawford in 1963
John Ernest Crawford

(1946-03-26) March 26, 1946 (age 74)
  • Actor
  • singer
  • musician
  • band leader
Years active1955–1999; 2019
Charlotte (McKenna) Crawford(m. 1995)
Relatives Robert L. Crawford Jr. (brother)

Johnny Crawford and Chuck Connors in The Rifleman (1960) Chuck Connors Johnny Crawford The Rifleman 1960.JPG
Johnny Crawford and Chuck Connors in The Rifleman (1960)

John Ernest Crawford (born March 26, 1946) is an American actor, singer, and musician. He first performed before a national audience as a Mouseketeer. At age 12, Crawford rose to prominence playing Mark McCain in the popular ABC Western series The Rifleman . Crawford was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor at age 13 for his work on The Rifleman. The show aired from 1958 to 1963.


Crawford had a brief career as a recording artist in the 1950s and 1960s. He continued to act on television and in film as an adult. Beginning in 1992, Crawford led the California-based Johnny Crawford Orchestra, a vintage dance orchestra that performed at special events.

Family life

Crawford was born in Los Angeles, the son of Betty (née Megerlin) and Robert Lawrence Crawford Sr. His maternal grandparents were Belgian; his maternal grandfather was violinist Alfred Eugene Megerlin. [1] [2] [3] In 1959, Johnny, his older brother Robert L. Crawford Jr., a co-star of NBC's Laramie series, and their father Robert Sr. were all nominated for Emmy Awards (the brothers for acting, and their father for film editing). [4]


Crawford began his career as a child actor. One of The Walt Disney Company's original Mouseketeers in 1955, he has acted on stage, in films, and on television.[ citation needed ]

Disney started out with 24 original Mouseketeers. However, at the end of the first season, the studio reduced the number to 12, and Crawford was released from his contract. His first important break as an actor followed with the title role in a Lux Video Theatre production of "Little Boy Lost", a live NBC broadcast on March 15, 1956. He also appeared in the popular Western series The Lone Ranger , in 1956, in one of the few color episodes of that series. [5] Following that performance, the young actor worked steadily with many seasoned actors and directors. Freelancing for two and one-half years, he accumulated almost 60 television credits, including featured roles in three episodes of NBC's The Loretta Young Show and an appearance as Manuel in, "I Am an American", an episode of the syndicated crime drama Sheriff of Cochise . He starred as Bobby Adams in the 1958 drama "Courage of Black Beauty". By the spring of 1958, he had also performed 14 demanding roles in live teleplays for NBC's Matinee Theatre , [6] appeared on CBS's sitcom, Mr. Adams and Eve, in the Wagon Train episode "The Sally Potter Story" (in which Martin Milner also appeared) and on the syndicated series, Crossroads , Sheriff of Cochise, and Whirlybirds , and made three pilots of TV series. The third pilot, which was made as an episode of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater , was picked up by ABC and the first season of The Rifleman began filming in July 1958.[ citation needed ]

Crawford on The Rifleman in 1961 The Rifleman Johnny Crawford 1961.jpg
Crawford on The Rifleman in 1961

Crawford was nominated for an Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actor [7] at age 13. He received the nomination for his role as Mark McCain (the son of Lucas McCain, played by Chuck Connors) in the American Broadcasting Company series [7] The Rifleman. Crawford also played a young boy named Clay Holden who befriends Connors in a 1965 episode of “Branded”. Throughout The Rifleman's five seasons, a remarkable on-screen chemistry existed between Connors and Crawford in the depiction of their father-son relationship. They were still close friends when Connors died on November 10, 1992, and Crawford gave a eulogy at Connors's memorial service.[ citation needed ]

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Crawford had wide popularity with American teenagers and a recording career that generated four Billboard Top 40 hits, including the single "Cindy's Birthday", which peaked at number 8 in 1962. His other hits included "Rumors" (number 12, 1962), "Your Nose is Gonna Grow" (number 14, 1962), and "Proud" (number 29, 1963). [8]

Late in 1961, Crawford appeared as Victor in the episode "A Very Bright Boy" of the ABC sitcom, The Donna Reed Show . [9] His brother Robert had also been a guest star on The Donna Reed Show. Once in 1964 and once in 1965, Crawford appeared on the NBC education drama Mr. Novak playing JoJo Rizzo. [10]

Crawford played Jeff, Wilbur's neighbor in Mister Ed - season 6, episode 2 (1965) - who was more interested in pop music than his algebra. [11]

Among his films, Crawford played an American Indian in the unique adventure film, Indian Paint (1965). [12] He played a character involved with a disturbed young girl played by Kim Darby in The Restless Ones (1965); and played a character shot by John Wayne's character in El Dorado (1967). [13] He played a young deputy Billy Norris, in The Big Valley episode "The Other Face Of Justice" in 1969. [14]

While enlisted in the United States Army for two years, Crawford worked on training films [15] as a production coordinator, assistant director, script supervisor, and occasional actor. His rank was sergeant at the time of his honorable discharge in December 1967.[ citation needed ]

In 1968, Crawford played a soldier wanted for murder in "By the Numbers", an episode of the popular TV series Hawaii Five-O . [16]

The Resurrection of Broncho Billy was a USC student film Crawford agreed to do as a favor to his close friend, producer John Longenecker. It won the 1970 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Subject.[ citation needed ]

The Naked Ape was a partially animated 1973 feature film starring Crawford and Victoria Principal, produced by Hugh Hefner. [17]

In 1976, Crawford co-starred as Ben Shelby in the tenth episode of season three of Little House on the Prairie , "The Hunters". [18]

Crawford appeared as Sheriff's Deputy Noah Paisley in a 1985 episode of Murder, She Wrote . [19]

Crawford played a key role in the early career of entertainer Victoria Jackson, of Saturday Night Live fame. After the two appeared together in a summer stock production of Meet Me in St. Louis , he presented her with a one-way ticket to California and encouraged her to pursue a Hollywood career. This led Jackson to early appearances on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson , before she was cast as a regular on SNL. [20]

Beginning in 1992, Crawford led a California-based vintage dance orchestra which performed at special events. The formal name of the band was JCO (Johnny Crawford Orchestra). The JCO logo appeared on Crawford's drums when the band played in Las Vegas.[ citation needed ] The band has been sponsored by the Playboy Jazz Festival, [21] and the orchestra has been the choice for 15 consecutive annual Art Directors Guild Awards shows at the Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills. [22] A remastered version of the orchestra's highly rated [23] first album, Sweepin' the Clouds Away, was released on August 21, 2012, on the CD Baby (distributor) label. [24]

Personal life

In the early 1970s, Crawford dated Debra Tate, sister of the late actress Sharon Tate.[ citation needed ]

Crawford reconnected with his high school sweetheart, Charlotte Samco, in 1990, and they married in 1995. [25]

In 2019, multiple sources reported that Crawford had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. [26]


YearSingle (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positionsAlbum
b/w "So Goes The Story" (Non-album track)
70The Captivating Johnny Crawford
"Your Love Is Growing Cold"
b/w "Treasure"
1962"Patti Ann"
b/w "Donna"
"Cindy's Birthday"
b/w "Something Special"
8A Young Man's Fancy
"Your Nose Is Gonna Grow"
b/w "Mr. Blue"
b/w "No One Really Loves A Clown"
b/w "Lonesome Town" (from Rumors)
29His Greatest Hits
"Cry on My Shoulder"
b/w "When I Fall in Love" (from His Greatest Hits Vol. #2)
"What Happened To Janie"
b/w "Petite Chanson" (from Rumors)
His Greatest Hits Vol. #2
"Cindy's Gonna Cry"
b/w "Debbie" (from A Young Man's Fancy)
1964"Judy Loves Me"
b/w "Living in the Past" (from Rumors)
b/w "Ol' Shorty" (Non-album track)
1965"(Once Upon A Time) The Girl Next Door"
b/w "Sittin' and A Watchin'" (from A Young Man's Fancy)
"Am I Too Young"
b/w "Janie Please Believe Me" (from Rumors)
-Non-album tracks
b/w "Everybody Has Their Day"
1968"Everyone Should Own A Dream"
b/w "Good Guys Finish Last"

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  2. "Johnny Crawford ... 'the Son of Rifleman'". TV Week Magazine. The Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, Florida. May 24, 1959. p. 7. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  3. "Answers: Johnny Crawford A Mixture". The Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, Florida. November 20, 1963. p. A9. Retrieved January 25, 2014. His mother is from Belgium.
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  11. "Ed a Go-Go". September 19, 1965. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
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  14. "The Other Face of Justice". March 31, 1969. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  15. "Johnny Crawford - The Restless Ones". Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  16. "By the Numbers". December 12, 1968. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  17. "Johnny Crawford: The Naked Ape". Mary Anderson. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  18. "The Hunters". December 20, 1976. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  19. ""Murder, She Wrote" A Lady in the Lake (TV Episode 1985)". Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  20. "Angry Woman – Victoria Jackson on "Tonight Show" b/w". Youtube. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  21. "Playboy Jazz Festival - Free Concert in Beverly Hills - May 2nd, 2010 - - Concerts & Festivals!". April 27, 2010. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  22. "RIGHT ON TARGET". Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  23. " Customer reviews: Sweepin' the Clouds Away (Remastered)". Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  24. "Sweepin' the Clouds Away",; accessed April 11, 2015.
  25. "Johnny Crawford". Scott Stander. Archived from the original on February 15, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  26. "See Johnny Crawford in his first acting role in 20 years". MeTV. Retrieved October 26, 2019.