For five years Johnny Crawford was the child actor who brought us so much joy as Mark McCain in the classic U.S. TV show ‘The Rifleman’.
Crawford made his movie debut at 3, his stage debut at 5 and was one of the original Mouseketeers of “The Mickey Mouse Club” at 9.
But he got his big break, and defining role, as the son of a widowed rancher Lucas McCain, one of TVs first single dads played by Chuck Connors, earned him an Emmy nomination when he was just 13 years old.
The father-son relationship these two had not only touched a nation of TV fans but gave viewers morality lessons that are still relevant today.
Johnny Crawford starred in the show set in 1880s New Mexico territory from 1958 until 1963 and has fond memories of his time on set.
“We loved doing it. The scripts were wonderful. As a result, even as a kid, I felt we were doing something special,” Johnny said as per Boomer magazine.
Following his starring TV role Crawford used his skills as an expert horseman on the American rodeo circuit, served two years in the U.S. army and continued his acting career.
He even entered the music world recording three albums singing and playing the guitar which resulted in 8 top-ten hits.
Johnny Crawford today
Now, at 74 years old, the talented actor and musician is facing the challenge of his life after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Mounting medical bills
He has moved to the same California assisted living community where his wife, Charlotte, is employed but his family is facing mounting medical bills that they are struggling to meet.
His long-time friend and actor Paul Peterson, who played Jeff Stone on ‘The Donna Reed Show’ has launched a GoFundMe page to help raise money toward his friend’s medical bills.
“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 have already raised more than $70,000 with one donor writing:
“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.”
A video posted on YouTube which honors the actor and asks for people’s help to care for him now has been watched more than 700,000 times.
Nobody should have to suffer this terrible disease.
Please share to show your support for this much-loved star.