Johnny Crawford, who played the role of Mark McCain opposite Chuck Connors in the legendary American Western TV series “The Rifleman,” gained huge popularity from very early age. When he was just 5 years old, Johnny had his debut on stage and he even played one of the original Mouseketeers in “The Mickey Mouse Club” at the age of 9.
Everyone around him knew he would become a star as his acting talent was undeniable. It was his role in “The Rifleman,” however, what made him a teen idol young fans from all across America loved dearly. The series aired from 1958 to 1963 and was among the first ever to depict the life of a single father raising his child on his own. It offered lessons in morality and strong ethics, one of the reasons why fans loved it so much.
Speaking of his role in the series, Johnny told Boomer magazine, “We loved doing it. The scripts were wonderful. As a result, even as a kid, I felt we were doing something special.” He was nominated for an Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actor at the age of 13.
Johnny was part of other movies and series in the years that followed and recorded three music albums. Many of his songs were top ten hits, including “Cindy’s Birthday” and “Rumors,” and he became a music sensation.
In 2019, at the age of 73, the cowboy climbed back in the saddle for the Western movie Bill Tilghman and the Outlaws.
Sadly, earlier this year, the actor and musician was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was moved to a California based living facility in which his wife Charlotte works.
His friend and actor Paul Peterson spoke of Johnny’s health and the family’s struggles to cover the medical bills for his treatments. In hopes of helping them, he started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Johnny’s care.
“Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease … you can tell he wants to talk but the words aren’t there,” Petersen told Boomer Magazine. “But he’s always got a smile on his face.”
Fans donated over $80,000 and wrote how much their appreciated Johnny’s work over the years. One person wrote, “Always loved The Rifleman for showing that you can do the right thing and still be cool. Even though this show was before my time, once I saw my first show in the 80s as a kid I was hooked. Much love to you Johnny – you were always a class act.”
Take a look at the video below that honors Johnny’s work and asks from people to help.