The Heartbreaking Death Of Johnny Crawford

Actor Johnny Crawford has died. A spokesperson for the 75-year-old actor said "he passed away peacefully this evening, April 29, 2021, with Charlotte, his wife, by his side." Variety outlined that he gained fame in 1958 when he played Chuck Connors' son in "The Rifleman" on ABC. He was also in "The Count of Monte Cristo", and played one of 24 Mousketeers that featured in the very first season of "The Mickey Mouse Club." 

On his website, his family revealed that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2019. After his diagnosis, a GoFundMe campaign was established to help the family with his care expenses. Before his death, he was living in an assisted living facility. It was there that he contracted COVID-19 and then pneumonia.

Tweeting about his death, "Arrested Development" star Scott Baio said, "My dear friend #JohnnyCrawford just passed away. I pray for his wife Charlotte as she was by his side. Johnny was a real cowboy and will be greatly missed. He was an original "Mickey Mouse Club" member and played the son on "The Rifleman."

Another fan shared similar sentiments in writing, "I'm saddened to hear of Johnny Crawford's passing. Beloved by western fans for his role as Mark McCain on the Rifleman, this talented actor leaves behind a legacy of class and kindness. I always enjoyed his performances, and will miss him dearly."

Johnny Crawford leaves behind an impressive body of work

The Hollywood Reporter highlights that, while Crawford may be best recognized for his role in "The Rifleman," he's got a super extensive legacy. Entertainment Weekly points out that when he took on the role he was only 12 and the following year he would be nominated for best supporting actor at the Emmy Awards.

He made the transition from a child star to a prominent adult actor with ease. In an interview printed in the TV Collector in 1982, he spoke about his experience on "The Mickey Mouse Club." Sharing, "I was a has-been at 9. I told my agent that I would have worked at Disney for nothing. That's when she told me that I was working for them for nothing." He continued, "[But] being able to go in and say that I had just finished working for a year as a Mouseketeer was to my benefit because there weren't many nine-year-olds who had experience in film. It gave me a certain confidence that I hadn't had before, and I started getting a few small parts."

Metro reports that he was also credited in "The Lone Ranger," "Rawhide," and "Hawaii 5-0." In his later years, he played William S. Hart in "The Marshal" and Mark McCain in "The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw."