Johnny Crawford . . . 'the Son of Rifleman'
Johnny Crawford . . . 'the Son of Rifleman'
Twelve-year old Johnny Crawford, who swings along in the saddle beside Chuck Connors in ABC TVs "The Rifleman," has captured the hearts of television viewers the country over this season.
His role as Connors' son in the series was a part made to order for the quiet, sensitive, brown eyed lad, currently regarded as one of TVs top young thespians. Not only is Johnny a multifaceted person who excels in many things, but the warm bond between father and son in his palace series is paralleled by a close father-son relationship in his real family.
Calling us from Hollywood the other day, Johnny admitted that he had "always been a little stage struck" and began preparing for an acting career at an early age. But he has taken fortune in his stride and doesn't consider himself any different from any other kids his age.
"I guess I do get more mail than most kids". "And I sure like getting those letters, too. I called my mom every day to see if I have any mail. 'Course most of it goes to the studio. I don't know how much, but I think it's quite a bit. I guess that's the biggest difference."
Young Johnny has a rich theatrical and musical heritage. His maternal grandfather, Alfred Megerlin, was concert master of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Minneapolis Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His grandmother, Frances Megerlin, was a headliner on Keith and Orpheum Circuits and also an accomplished violinist. On his father's side, his grandfather, Bobby Crawford became president of DeSylvia, Brown and Anderson, a music publishing company. It later became the Crawford Music Corp. and in 1929 Crawford sold a backlog of songs to Warner Bros. for $7,000,000.
From the time he was four, Johnny was an entertaining wonder. He charmed his family and friends by dancing, singing, imitating comedians and talking with foreign accents. When he was five he made his Hollywood theatrical debut in a presentation of "Mr. Belvedere," and in 1955 he became one of the original Mouseketeers on Walt Disney's program. The fencing finesse he displayed added in his selection for the club.
"My father was the Southern California fencing champion several years ago," Johnny noted proudly, and although he modestly decline to mention it, Johnny himself won a Southern California fencing championship in 1956-57, for his age group.
When he was nine years old, Johnny had his first interview for a television part -- the title role in the Lux Video's "Little Boy Lost." In spite of his lack of experience he showed such inherent acting ability that he won the part. Other important roles which quickly followed included a top part in Paramount's "Space Children" and numerous television productions.
An avid baseball fan, Johnny doesn't miss a chance to skip dancing, singing and acting lessons to root for the Los Angeles Dodgers which he tells you with much gusto, is his favorite team. He particularly relishes working with Chuck Connors, who formerly played with the Brooklyn Dodgers. As Johnny expressed it, "Chuck has taught me lots of special little things about baseball. Like how to hold my bat, and how to field the ball and run the bases. He and I are real close, I go out to his house to play ball with him and his sons and swim in their pool."
Is it fun? We asked.
"Wow! Is it ever!" Johnny exclaimed, with his usual abundance of bubbly enthusiasm.
Johnny is privately tutored by Ms. Kathryn Ray, who has been a studio teacher for 15 years. And according to her, Johnny is the most diligent and conscientious student she has ever had." Proof is found in his report cards, always straight A's.
"He pursues everything with the same intensity he pours into his acting," says Miss Ray, who was with Johnny during our long-distance interview. "For instance, when the sponsors of the show gave him a dog (Charlie-My-Boy), he wrote to government agencies, humane societies, and pet stores to learn all he could about the care of his dog."
Asked what he liked best about his TV western series Johnny characteristically paused before answering in order to way our question carefully.
"I think I like my horse and the ranch and reading the script's best, "he said."My horse's name is Bosco. I used to have another one named Peanuts but he got so old and pokey that he sort of hit the ground when he walked. That's when I got Bosco."
The Ranch Johnny referred to is the sprawling Malibu acreage belonging to 20th Century Fox Studios which has become the site of Lucas McCain's cattle ranch in the series. It is located about 20 miles from Hollywood, situated in the rolling hills just above the Pacific Ocean.
The entire ranch, including the ranch house, corral, barn and tool shed has been duplicated on an indoor set at Fox's mammoth Hollywood studio. Nail for nail and detail for detail the set has been constructed a second time, so that when outdoor location shooting has to be halted because of inclement weather, the entire ranch can be moved indoors.
Johnny's brother, Bobby, known professionally as Robert Crawford, is also an actor, and recently won rave notices for his part in Playhouse 90s "Child of Our Time" in which he appeared in virtually every scene of the teleplay.
The most recent addition to Johnny's many interests is playing the guitar. He hopes to become good enough to persuade the producers to let him strum it on the show.
And from his past record of accomplishments it shouldn't take him long.
A member here at the ranch had sent me this some time ago. Enjoy! :gunfightercowboy2:
"Keep your 'sites' on The Rifleman"
"The Rifleman hits the 'Mark' every week on abc."
A cowgirl's work is never done.
This is a wonderful article. Thanks for sharing!!
:cowgirl: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and He shall stand beside me later on." (Lucas in Home Ranch) :gunfightercowboy: