Johnny Crawford was one of the luckiest young actors of the fifties: he was picked to be one of the twenty-four Mousekeers when the Mickey Mouse Club began filming in 1955. His tenure with the show only lasted for the first year because Disney decided to cut expenses for the show by dismissing half the actors at the end of the first year.
A series of small roles on both live and filmed television shows followed over the next two years. In 1958 he caught his second big break: he was selected to play one of the lead roles on the television show The Rifleman. Chuck Conners played the title role on the show and Johnny played his son. The chemistry between the two was impressive and resulted in an Emmy award nomination for Johnny in 1959. That same year his brother Robert Jr., and his father, Robert Sr., were also both nominated for Emmies for two other shows, probably a unique occurrence.
It’s not surprising that a teenaged actor in the early sixties would have released records. He recorded an album in 1961 and three singles were released that all failed to reach the top forty. In 1962 he recorded a second album and finally caught a hit with the top ten single Cindy’s Birthday.
The second single from the album was the novelty song Your Nose Is Gonna Grow. The record got as high as #14 before falling off the charts.
Two more top forty singles followed. In 1963, The Rifleman ended and his singing career faded as well. Some unsuccessful singles followed through 1968.
Johnny finished high school and ran off and joined a rodeo. He had a few more television appearances but never again was in a recurring role.
Johnny followed in his musician father’s footsteps when he formed the Johnny Crawford Orchestra in 1992 and he led them for decades.