Johnny Crawford, original Mouseketeer and Rifleman star, dies at 75

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Everett Collection Johnny Crawford in The Rifleman

Johnny Crawford, best known for his iconic role as Mark McCain in the 1950's ABC series The Rifleman, died Thursday from COVID-19 and pneumonia. He was 75. Crawford's official website, which is run by his family, confirmed the news.

"It is with great sadness and heaviness of heart that the Johnny Crawford Legacy team announce the passing of Johnny Crawford. He passed away peacefully this evening, April 29, 2021 with Charlotte, his wife, by his side." His family also confirmed the on Facebook, writing "thank you for all you gave your fans and the entertainment industry."

Crawford's career kicked off when he was cast as one of the 24 original Mousekeeters in the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club. His big break when he was cast as Mark McCain, the son of Chuck Connors' Lucas McCain, in the ABC drama series The Rifleman. The role earned Crawford an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in 1959, at only 13 years old.

Crawford's later television appearances included roles in acclaimed shows such as The Lone Ranger, The Count of Monte Cristo, Rawhide, and Hawaii 5-0. His film credits included William Tell and The Marshal.

Born into a family that celebrated musical and theater, Crawford grew up surrounded by talent that included his paternal grandfather working for Irving Berlin and his maternal grandfather being a lead violinist in Germany and Belgium prior to World War I. The actor took those inspirations with him, embarking on a musical career that included a recording contract with Del-Fi Records and a No. 8 song ("Cindy's Birthday") on the Billboard 100 in 1962.

According to his official website, run by Crawford's family, Crawford had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and had been living in an assisted facility prior to his death.

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