The Rifleman: Original Star Johnny Crawford on New Series Plans

Rifleman new cbs seriesEarlier today, we reported that CBS wants to revive the classic Western series, The Rifleman. They’ve signed Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier to a script deal and Harry Potter director Chris Columbus is on board to direct the pilot episode if the project gets that far.

As fans of the old ABC TV series know, the original Western is set in New Mexico and stars former pro-baseball player Chuck Connors as tough rancher named Lucas McCain. A widower, he’s a single dad to his only son, Mark (Johnny Crawford). Lucas is also a crack shot with a Winchester rifle but uses it only when necessary.

Connors died from lung cancer in 1992 but Crawford is still active in the industry. He continued to act when the show went off the air in 1963 and currently focuses on music. He’s a singer and leads the California-based Johnny Crawford Orchestra which specializes in vintage dance music.

Crawford tells us that he finds the possibility of a new Rifleman series “intriguing.” We asked if he’d be interested in being connected with a new show in some way and Crawford said, “I would love to be involved as an actor, director or music supervisor. I’ve always loved Westerns and I loved working on the original series.” He noted, “It was a great childhood.”

Crawford kept in touch with Connors up until the latter’s demise. They actually reprised their beloved roles not long before Connors died, in a 1991 Kenny Rogers TV movie called The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.

What do you think? If the new Rifleman series gets made, would you like to see Crawford involved somehow? In a cameo role or something more permanent?

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108 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Warren says

    I agree with Nikki, and Make good use of Johnny Crawford as long as possible. He is the only living link that we all remember and love.

  2. nikki says

    yes but no!!!! Don’t try to remake the show! But with all the technology just blend in the old with the new. There can only be “1” Rifleman & son. Plz just spin off. Don’t try to replace with another. That’s what the Soaps do. Sick. “We LOVE this original show.”

  3. Garnet says

    Don’t want them to ‘remake’ The Rifleman. There is but ONE Lucan McCain and ONE Mark McCain. Why must they always want to mess with perfection. Leave it alone… there is only ONE Rifleman – CHUCK CONNORS! I hope it fails before it ever gets a pilot made.

  4. robert duarte says

    i agree with richard behmer that randy travis would make a great lucas mccain. i think his face & built is perfect. of course he is a lot shorter. and randy is experienced with guns and has” played in several westerns movies. and i would love to see johnny crawford playing a big role in this too. maybe even somehow playing mark again or some kind of cousin not mentioned previously. hope they would consider randy travis”. great idea, we need more good westerns today.

  5. Bob White says

    Crawford, absolutely.
    Maybe ‘Marks’ diary and parts of the rifle are found in an old chest in an attic, then
    the series reflects back from there.

    Grayson Mccouch has the look, but 6″ shy of Connors.

  6. Roger Christian says

    what is going on with the production of this new Rifleman? There has been talk for three years. To bad too with talk of more gun control this series could reach out to a whole new generation. Teach a few valves and respect just like the old ABC series. I remember when ABC was the go to network for family valves. No like it is today.

  7. Leonard Keng says

    Always wanted to see serious movie made of the tv show the rifleman. The thing almost writes itself. A 30 yr old Mark McCain could be tell stories about his dad around a campfire on the eve of the battle of SanJuan Hill with Roosevelts rough riders…..And make a few long distance shots just to back it up

  8. warren sweat says

    I grew up with Mark, and I would love to see him in a Western again…One of his greatest acting lines: “Mamas know everything about their sons” (paraphrased).

    • Caroll says

      Hi, I know the episode in which he said that, it was entitled, “woman from hot ridge”, when Mark calls the woman, wicked woman, and he’s talking about her son lying to her, Mark says, “why you ‘d know, Mother’s always know”.. I love that scene. My daughter bought me all the episodes, I watch them every night, (I have one in my computer right now; getting ready to watch some episodes).
      Perhaps you could help me. My cousin told me about an episode he once saw in which Mark shoots someone. My cousin said Mark and Lucas were held hostage (I believe in their house) by two, maybe one , bank robber or some bad guy, and Mark points the rifle (or maybe a gun) at the
      guy and says, “my pa always said to never point a rifle at someone unless your going to shoot, well
      I’m pointing it at you”, and he shoots the bad guy.
      I have no idea what episode that is. I have tried to find it on the web, but can’t come up with any episode where Mark shoots someone, do you know? Thanks so much.

  9. says

    There is not a person alive who could bring such a package to The Rifleman Reboot as Johnny Crawford. He was there. He carries the spirit of the series in his heart and memory. He could act as creative consultant or story editor to keep the show on track as a faithful continuation. Or he could supervise the re-creation of the authentic musical themes so part and parcel to the the emotional content of the original TV Western. On so many levels, the value of his participation would be immeasurable.

  10. Shirl says

    I cannot wait for the new series. Sat morn is a must see. I wake up and turn on the TV.
    I watched the show as a young girl and of course, had a crush on Johnny. The acting is so good and always carries a message. It is also fun to see actors that became even bigger stars.

  11. Jennifer says

    I would love to see the new series! I’m 30 years old and I never liked westerns till I started living with my elderly grandparents a few years ago and my grandpa likes to watch “The Rifleman.” I watch it with him a lot and have come to really love it. I didnt get to see this but my grandpa said their was an episode on the other day where Mark is all grown up and he is the Marshall of the town and has his paw there to help him. Hopefully I will get to see it as reruns come on regularly. Bring on the new show!

  12. Kathy Harmon says

    It would be nice to see Johnny Crawford as a major role in this production. He would still be Mark McCain, but much older. In envision him relating stories to his descendents, of the life and times of the Rifleman. He doesn’t necessarily have to be in each episode per se, but just a narration as he begins each story (sort of like Leonard Nimoy’s part in Fringe).

    To answer this question if he should be involved? Most definitely!!! I have known and followed his career since the Rifleman and would love to see this revived. Johnny is a wonderful person and he has never forgotten Chuck Connors or The Rifleman.

  13. Susan Churella says

    I would watch anything with Johnny Crawford in it! It’s great to catch him as a guest star on reruns of other vintage TV series.

  14. LARRY HAWKINS says


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