Johnny Crawford, one of the original members of “The Mickey Mouse Club” when the show premiered in 1955, has passed away at 75, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Crawford was one of 24 kids who were Mouseketeers during the show’s first season, but was let go when the roster was reduced to 12 for season two. In a 1982 interview, Crawford recalled being released
“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. [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 9-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.”
Despite his departure, Crawford continued to have success in film television, starring as Mark McCain, son of lead character Lucas McCain, in “The Rifleman,” from 1958 to 1963. He would later appear on shows including “Hawaii Five-O,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Murder, She Wrote.” He also appeared in such films as The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and El Dorado.
In 2019, it was announced that Crawford had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and a GoFundMe campaign was set up by Paul Petersen, an advocate for former child stars, to provide financial assistance. According to fan site Johnny Crawford Legacy, he recently contracted COVID-19, then pneumonia.
Crawford is survived by his wife, Charlotte Samco, and his brother, Bobby.