|Born||John Ernest Crawford
March 26, 1946
Los Angeles, California, USA
|Occupation||Actor, singer, musician, band leader|
|Spouse(s)||Charlotte Crawford (1995–present)|
Father Robert L. Crawford, Sr.
John Ernest "Johnny" Crawford (born March 26, 1946) is a prolific American character actor, singer, and musician. At age 12, Crawford rose to fame for playing Mark McCain, the son of Lucas McCain (played by Chuck Connors), in the popular ABC western series, The Rifleman, which originally aired from 1958 to 1963. Crawford first performed before a national audience as a Mouseketeer.
Crawford was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Betty (née Megerlin) and Robert Lawrence Crawford, Sr. His maternal grandparents were Belgian; his maternal grandfather was violinist Alfred Eugene Megerlin. 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).
Disney started out with 24 original Mouseketeers. But, at the end of the first season the studio reduced the number to 12 and Johnny 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. Following that performance, the young actor worked steadily with many seasoned actors and directors. Freelancing for two-and-a-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. By the spring of 1958, he had also performed 14 demanding roles in live teleplays for NBC's Matinee Theatre, 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 in the hope of being on a 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.
Crawford was nominated for an Emmy Award at age 13 for his role as Mark McCain, the son of Lucas McCain, played by Chuck Connors, in the Four Star Television series The Rifleman, which originally aired from 1958 to 1963. Throughout The Rifleman's five seasons, there was a remarkable on-screen chemistry 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' memorial.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Crawford had wide popularity with American teenagers and a recording career that generated five Billboard Top 40 hits, including the single, "Cindy's Birthday," which peaked at #8, in 1962. His other hits included "Rumors" (#12, 1962), "Your Nose is Gonna Grow" (#14, 1962) and "Proud" (#29, 1963).
Late in 1961, Crawford appeared as Victor in the episode "A Very Bright Boy" of the ABC sitcom, The Donna Reed Show. Earlier,[when?] his brother Robert had also been a guest star on The Donna Reed Show.
Among his films, Crawford played an American Indian in the unique adventure film, Indian Paint (1965). He got mixed up with a disturbed young girl played by Kim Darby in The Restless Ones (1965); and Crawford got shot by John Wayne in El Dorado (1967).
While enlisted in the United States Army for two years, Crawford worked on training films 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.
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."
The Naked Ape was a partially animated 1973 feature film starring Johnny Crawford and Victoria Principal, produced by Hugh Hefner. In an article about that movie he became the first man to be shown in full-frontal nudity in Playboy magazine.
Since 1992, Johnny Crawford has led a California-based vintage dance orchestra which performs at special events. His band has been sponsored by the Playboy Jazz Festival; and the orchestra has been the repeated choice for fifteen annual Art Directors Guild Awards shows at the Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, CA. A remastered version of the orchestra's highly rated first album, "Sweepin' the Clouds Away," was officially released on September 30, 2011.
In 2012, Crawford did an introductory commercial for The Rifleman for MeTV, saying, "Watch me on 'me,' MeTV, on The Rifleman!"
Crawford reconnected with his high school sweetheart, Charlotte Samco, in 1990, and they married in 1995.
Crawford had 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.
- "Western Stars Ride into Portsmouth". Portsmouth Daily Times (Portsmouth, Ohio). June 4, 1997. p. A4. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- "Johnny Crawford ... 'the Son of Rifleman'". TV Week Magazine. The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida). May 24, 1959. p. 7. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- "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."
- ""A Very Bright Boy" on The Donna Reed Show, December 21, 1961". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- "Johnny Crawford: The Naked Ape". Mary Andersonr. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- The Naked Ape, Playboy (USA), September 1973
- "Johnny Crawford". Scott Stander. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- "Angry Woman – Victoria Jackson on "Tonight Show," b/w". Youtube. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- Johnny Crawford on The Rifleman
- Official Site for Crawford Music
- Broncho Billy short film
- Johnny Crawford's MySpace site
- Johnny Crawford at the Internet Movie Database