Was ‘The Rifleman’ Set Used in the Cover Art for Johnny Crawford’s ‘Cindy’s Birthday’ Single?

by Taylor Cunningham

The cover art for one of Johnny Crawford’s albums looks suspiciously like a scene from one of The Rifleman’s most loved episodes.

If you study the front of the actor’s best-selling single—titled Cindy’s Birthday—closely, you’ll notice that there is a man walking behind Crawford who is dressed in old-time garb with his face turned away from the camera.

And that man looks a lot like an unnamed character from the 1962 episode called The Princess. For those of you who need a refresh, the story follows a beautiful but mysterious young woman named Jennifer who shows up at the McCain ranch with her brother asking for help.

As she and Lucas begin to fall for each other, Lucas hears that a European princess and prince have run away from a Denver boarding school. And as you can guess, Jennifer is that princess.

Two well-dress men show up in town looking for Jennifer. And they find out that the prince and princess are hiding out at the ranch. And they head out to meet Lucas and bring them back to school.

One of those men is wearing a top and fancy tux—just like the man in the cover art. And the timing of everything pans out because the episode aired only a few short months before the single was released.

However, it is hard to know if The Rifleman episode’s man and the Cindy’s Birthday’s man are the same. Neither the art nor IMDb names the person or people.

There is also another episode called Sheer Terror that guest stars a similarly dressed man. And that show debuted in October of 1961, which was six months prior to the release of the single. But if we had our guess, the actor more likely came from The Princess.

Johnny Crawford Often Linked His Singing Career with ‘The Rifleman’

Johnny Crawford did make a habit out of connecting his singing career with his hit Western series, though. So assuming that the person on the cover is another The Rifleman easter egg isn’t a long shot.

The cover photo for his first single, Daydreams, also showed Crawford wearing a cowboy hat and leaning against a saddle. And his second full-length record bears the same name as a Rifleman episode, A Young Man’s Fancy.

In that same episode, Johnny Crawford’s Mark McCain even sings a song called Something Special, which happens to be track number four on A Young Man’s Fancy.

In the end, we’ll never actually know the truth behind the seemingly uncanny cover art. But it’s always fun to try and solve classic TV mysteries.