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Robert Crawford Sr., a film editor on several TV series who received an Emmy nomination the same year his sons, Johnny Crawford of The Rifleman and Bobby Crawford of Laramie, also were honored, has died. He was 95.
Crawford died July 28 from complications of pneumonia in Woodland Hills after a five-year stay at the Motion Picture & Television Fund retirement home, his daughter, Nance Crawford, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Johnny Crawford, an original Mouseketeer, portrayed Chuck Connors’ young son Mark McCain on The Rifleman, which aired on ABC from 1958-63. Bobby Crawford played the younger brother Andy Sherman on the first two seasons of NBC’s Laramie, which ran from 1959-63.
Their father served as an editor on the sitcom The Bob Cummings Show, for which he received his Emmy nom in 1959. Johnny got his that year for best supporting actor (continuing character) in a dramatic series, while his older brother Bobby was tapped for best single performance by an actor for playing a kid in concentration camps in a George Roy Hill-directed installment of the anthology series Playhouse 90.
Robert Crawford also worked on such Warner Bros. TV shows as Bourbon Street Beat, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Cheyenne and Lawman as well as on Gidget, The Monkees and Tarzan.
In addition, he edited and served as an associate producer on the 1965 film Indian Paint, starring Johnny (Bobby also was in the movie), and he played Det. Phil Burns on the syndicated 1959-61 series Manhunt.
Later, Crawford established his own independent editing service for commercials and spent time working on series from the Filmation animation studio. He retired in 1986 and, “freed from the confinement of a small cutting room, pursued adventures in sailing, cross-country skiing, skydiving, kayaking, hiking and bicycling and competed in the Senior Olympics,” his daughter noted.
Crawford was born on Jan. 11, 1921, in New York City. His father was Bobby Crawford, who built the music publishing company DeSylva, Brown and Henderson (the trio behind such songs as “The Best Things in Life Are Free” and “Button Up Your Overcoat”). He then sold a library of tunes to Warner Bros. for a reported $7 million.
Crawford graduated high school from the New York Military Academy in 1938, moved to Los Angeles that year and worked at Columbia Pictures as a messenger, then served with the Marine Corps during World War II. After his discharge in 1946, he studied acting at Falcon Studios in Hollywood.
Crawford also trained with renowned Olympian and Hollywood fencing choreographer Ralph Faulkner — whose students also included Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone — and became a Southern California foil and sabre champion. His sons also took up the sport and even “dueled” on The Mickey Mouse Club.
In addition to Johnny (now a singer and bandleader), Bobby (a producer) and Nance (an author who also was a child actor), Crawford’s survivors include his wife Elinor, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. His first wife Betty, a concert pianist and actress, died in 1971, and his youngest son Cory died in 1992.
A private family memorial service will be held at the MPTF’s Country House. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sierra Club.
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