Darren mcgavin

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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am

Darren McGavin—Carl Kolchak in the wonderful Nightstalker TV series—has died at 83, according to a fan site apparently authorised by the actor.

UPDATE. Kolchak is gone, but the hat lives on.

UPDATE II. Damian Penny salutes Don Knotts, who has died at 81.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/25/2006 at 09:57 PM
    1. The original Barney passed.

      Don Knotts, TV’s Barney Fife, Dies at 81

      Darren and Don, you kept an entire generation entertained, without politicization, thank you and rest in piece.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 02 25 at 10:22 PM • permalink


    1. Link for Barney.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 02 25 at 10:26 PM • permalink


    1. They’re not producing the like anymore.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 02 25 at 10:30 PM • permalink


    1. the Nightstalker was classic stuff.

      Rest in Peace Carl Kolchak

      Posted by Harry Buttle on 2006 02 25 at 10:31 PM • permalink


    1. What an underrated actor McGavin was. His Kolchak was a joy to watch. RIP.

      Posted by Dave S. on 2006 02 25 at 10:43 PM • permalink


    1. McGavin was one of my favorite actors when I was a child and became entranced with “Mike Hammer”. I’ve never thought of him as anyone else.

      Posted by Joe Peden on 2006 02 25 at 10:44 PM • permalink


    1. Farewell, Mr Chicken.

      Posted by Nilknarf Arbed on 2006 02 25 at 10:47 PM • permalink


    1. One of the great shows, and one of the great characters. Farewell, Carl. Or as his long-suffereing editor might have said: ‘Kolchak! KOLCHAK! Come back here!’

      Posted by robf on 2006 02 25 at 11:15 PM • permalink


    1. This is so sad; a grim double-whammy. I grew up with the Andy Griffith Show (btw, that’s very much the way it was in my hometown in North Carolina in the fifties and early sixties). And I loved McGavin as Kolchak, in that shabby seersucker suit and battered straw hat. God bless ‘em.

      Posted by paco on 2006 02 25 at 11:15 PM • permalink


    1. I loved him as the dad in ‘A Christmas Story’.

      “‘Fra-JIL-eh’… Must be Italian…”

      Posted by anemone on 2006 02 25 at 11:54 PM • permalink


    1. RIP, Darren.  You and your peers are already missed.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 02 26 at 12:03 AM • permalink


    1. How prophetic, my stepson gave me the entire “early” Andy Griffith show DVD collection for Christmas. The “real” Andy Griffith Show, in black and white and only the ones with Barney. A sad piece of my childhood passes on.

      And Darren was brilliant in “A Christmas Story” as Ralphie’s Dad.

      Posted by Wallace-Midland Texas on 2006 02 26 at 12:09 AM • permalink


    1. Old enough to remember the Kolchak series but remember McGavin best as one of those marvellous American character actors whose presence tended to enhance movies in which he played a supporting role. Remember, in particular, his roles in “The Court Martial Of Billy Mitchell”and “The Natural”. The last named starred Robert Redford before he turned seriously weird.That gravel voice – aficionados could pick it anywhere.

      Posted by Boss Hog on 2006 02 26 at 12:25 AM • permalink


    1. I just barely remember Nightstalker- more likley I remember not being able to sleep afterwards!

      If they are available somehow I’d love to have another look at them. Now that I pay the power bils I’ll be able to leave the lights on all night if neccesary.

      Posted by Just passing by on 2006 02 26 at 02:45 AM • permalink


    1. “A Christmas Story” never got theatrical release in Australia, which pissed me off no end because I saw the short a couple of times at the movies. When it turned up on Christmas Day TV a few years later I loved it. Why it wasn’t deemed worthy of the big screen will be a mystery forever.
      We lost a couple of good ones today. As you say, El Cid, they entertained without politicisation.

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2006 02 26 at 03:58 AM • permalink


    1. The good die out. The bad live on George C looney traitor for example.

      Posted by stackja1945 on 2006 02 26 at 05:33 AM • permalink


    1. A sad loss. Rest in peace (and undisturbed by any of those monsters you investigated).

      Does anyone know when (or if) they are going to release the DVDs in region 4 (or why they have to region encode decades old TV series in the first place)?

      Posted by Burbank on 2006 02 26 at 08:33 AM • permalink


    1. 14: I believe the series is available on DVD.

      Posted by paco on 2006 02 26 at 08:58 AM • permalink


    1. I don’t think people who grew up in the days of 200 channel cable TV can understand the importance of great TV shows like The Andy Griffith Show.  Growing up in Ohio, we had exactly five channels to watch:  the local affiliates for the then three networks CBS, ABC, and NBC, public television, and one independent that basically ran nothing but reruns.  TV came on at 7 am and went off at midnight I believe.  In between you only saw a test pattern.

      I do believe the Sixties was the Golden Years for television.  Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart, the Jackie Gleeson Show, Red Skelton.  And the best of the lot, The Andy Griffith Show.

      And what made Andy Griffith so fun to watch was Barney Fife.  He was such a bumbling yet well meaning deputy, we really thought of him and the other characters on the show as members of our family.

      Thank you Don for entertaining us in such an unforgettable fashion.  May God rest your soul.

      Posted by wronwright on 2006 02 26 at 09:47 AM • permalink


    1. 19: Amen to that.

      Posted by paco on 2006 02 26 at 11:07 AM • permalink


    1. You used up all the glue on purpose!

      Posted by Sissy Willis on 2006 02 26 at 11:13 AM • permalink


    1. The high point of his career was the identification of Ragile as a town in Italy.

      Posted by Mrs. Davis on 2006 02 26 at 12:39 PM • permalink


    1. Barney’s tombstone will be a simple affair:


      Ok, that was bad.

      Posted by jbono on 2006 02 26 at 12:53 PM • permalink



      (that was worse)

      Posted by Dave S. on 2006 02 26 at 12:59 PM • permalink


    1. You and your peers are already missed.

      Actually, you can blame their disappearance on today’s megabuck pretty boys.

      There was a whole generation of these guys, making a good living as character actors and second bananas.  But then the likes of Ovitz started getting the likes of Cruise and Cooney $15 and $20 million, and even one-note scriptwriters like Shane Black started getting $4 million for a script, and the studios started making cuts elsewhere.  Character actors who used to make a good living (we grew up watching them) were suddenly getting offered union mimumum plust 10% if they were lucky.  Priced ‘em right into retirement.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 02 26 at 01:00 PM • permalink


    1. RIP, Ralphie’s dad. One of the most feared furnace fighters of the midwest and an Oldsmobile man.

      Posted by Latino on 2006 02 26 at 01:38 PM • permalink


    1. I’ve said this before .. but since nobody reads a damn thing I write, it will sound new.  The Night Stalker was a damn scary show in the Seventies.  I think part of what made it scary is seeing a bumbling but intrepid reporter willing to risk his luck and walk up right up to the casket at dusk, or search Jack the Ripper’s room when chances were good he would return, or search the lowel level of an excavation for a velociraptor when every other person hightailed it.  Memories of that show still brings chills to my spine.  Brrrrr.

      I always thought Kolchak would have made a good nemesis/ally to Fox Mulder.  I saw him as adopting a change in direction in his career, being ambitious, eventually becoming Editor in Chief of a major publication (The Bulletin for instance), and acting skeptical to each inquiry made by Mulder.  Yet being indirectly supportive since he could see a younger version of himself in Mulder.  But X Files didn’t consult me on the matter.  No wonder they went off the air.

      Posted by wronwright on 2006 02 26 at 03:06 PM • permalink


    1. If you’re as old as the hills (as I am), you may remember Don Knotts as one of the “men in the street” (along with Louie Nye and Tom Poston) who used to appear on the old Steve Allen show.

      Posted by Bruce Lagasse on 2006 02 26 at 03:44 PM • permalink


    1. That’s weird!  The numbering on this thread is all hinked up; look how it jumps straight from 26 to 28 with nothing in between.  Andrea, what’s going on?

      Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 02 26 at 04:04 PM • permalink


    1. Apparently McGavin did make a couple appearances on the X-Files as Arthur Dales, the FBI agent who started the X-Files section. I haven’t seen the episodes.

      The new Night Stalker TV show was pretty bad, but in the pilot they did matte Karl Kolchack into the background of the news room, which was a nice touch.

      Posted by Ernst Blofeld on 2006 02 26 at 04:12 PM • permalink


    1. Apparently McGavin did make a couple appearances on the X-Files as Arthur Dales, the FBI agent who started the X-Files section.

      Awesome homage, as the X-Files was basically an update of Kolchak. Good for them.

      Posted by Dave S. on 2006 02 26 at 04:50 PM • permalink


    1. #29, Stoop Davey, you are bad!

      I’ve been missing Darren McGavin on screen for years.  If only he could have continued acting forever, because he was one of the best.  RIP

      #28, Bruce, I’m embarrassed to admit that I do remember Don Knotts as a “man on the street”.  I was a child, but I remember they were hysterically funny.  RIP to him too.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 02 26 at 05:30 PM • permalink


    1. Remember, in particular, his roles in “The Court Martial Of Billy Mitchell”and “The Natural”.

      I have a question about “The Natural”, and perhaps someone can enlighten me.  Although Darren McGavin had a major role (as the gambler), his name appears nowhere in the credits.  I seem to recall reading that was at his request; does anybody know the background on that?

      Posted by Bruce Lagasse on 2006 02 26 at 06:48 PM • permalink


    1. I loved Nightstalker as a kid too, but has anyone here seen the 1983 movie McGavin starred in called ‘A Christmas Story’??? It’s sohilarious! It’s been ripped-off shamelessly over the years but it’s still a hoot. The movie is based on the wonderful Jean Shepard novel called ‘In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash!’ See the film, I guarantee you’ll love it!
      Don Knotts was a childhood favourite too 🙁

      Posted by Brian on 2006 02 26 at 07:27 PM • permalink


    1. Brian,

      Everyone is America has seen it.  It has

      (can everyone read this?)

      replaced Miracle on 34th Street as THE Christmas movie.  TBS runs it

      (well, can everybody read this?  I certainly hope so.  I don’t write these Charles Dickens/Mark Twain quality observations just for the hell of it)

      on a continuous loop.  It takes place in a small town in 1940’s Indiana.  But much of Ohio, including my hometown of Hooterville, is still pretty much the same.

      Posted by wronwright on 2006 02 26 at 07:54 PM • permalink


    1. Re: #35,

      Yeah, that’s it. It has only been broadcast here in Sydney and, dare I say, the rest of Australia, a few times and hasn’t been seen on television in over a decade unfortunately.

      Posted by Brian on 2006 02 26 at 08:02 PM • permalink


    1. One small caveat about Darren McGavin.  I can never, ever watch a performance of his without thinking of this. Doesn’t detract from his performance.  It’s just a momentary distraction.  Usually.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 02 26 at 09:02 PM • permalink


    1. Dang.  Maybe this link will work.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 02 26 at 09:05 PM • permalink


    1. At great risk to my reputation as a worldly-wise hep cat ( pauses while laughter dies down), I have to admit I have never seen “A Christmas Story”. But I’ll make sure I do the next time Christmas rolls around.

      I was a great fan of Kolchak, though, and Wronwright is absolutely correct: it was a perfect blend of the truly scary and the genuinely funny. For the NASCAR fans out there, McGavin also played Richard Petty’s father in the movie biography of the great race car driver. I saw McGavin in person, as a matter of fact, at the movie’s premier in Raleigh, North Carolina.

      Posted by paco on 2006 02 26 at 09:18 PM • permalink


    1. “Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master.”


      Posted by anemone on 2006 02 26 at 10:52 PM • permalink


    1. One day it dawned on me that X-Files was like the old Night Stalker among other things, except that instead of the usual forcing of 18th- & 19th-Century objects of paranoia into late-20th-Century contexts, the X-Files’ makers had the idea of actually using late-20th-Century objects of paranoia! Though it seems obvious once you say it that way, it was quite a leap, and for quite a while many people thought that the episodes were intended as fictionalized portrayals of things that have actually been happening.

      So I started marching around the offices of the major (non-media) corporation in NYC where I worked and sputtering in an indignant and very phony brogue about how The X-Files was nothing more than a “glorified Night Stalker” with “fancy up-to-date trappins an’ trimmins, fer what they’re worth! And do they even give Darren McGavin a cameo? Not on your life! Not a crumb to that good man!” People thought that that was funny but I did think that The X-Files concept deserved plenty of credit.

      Between four and six weeks later (I think), The X-Files gave McGavern a role as a founding X-Files investigator from the previous generation, one who knew Maulder’s father. I was eventually heard ranting: “Well it’s only fair and extremely appropriate, and it was about time!”

      So of course I’ve wondered whether some X-Files person / spouse / spawn / friend was working in my department. A few among us were also involved directly or indirectly with some other big TV shows. I mean, talk about quick results! Prolly all just a big, big coincidence. I dunno. “The truth is out there”!

      Posted by ForNow on 2006 02 27 at 02:15 AM • permalink


    1. Their passing makes me think about the days when actors simply acted.  There was no self-imposed “moral obligation” to use their celebrity for lame-brain politcal causes.  I wonder if we’ll ever see the likes of these again?  Thats probably why I no longer watch TV. There really is NOTHING good on TV these days.  ~wanders off muttering to himself~

      Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 02 27 at 07:11 AM • permalink


    1. There really is NOTHING good on TV these days.

      Well, that’s not true, there’s plenty of good stuff to find in serial television. (The occasional script that deals in lefty pet issues notwithstanding, but as long as it’s just a couple in a 22 episode season, I’ll deal.) Maybe it’s just my impression but actors who work on TV series seem to be somewhat more well-adjusted, for the most part. Maybe it’s because the rigours of a day-in, day-out production schedule give them less time to mouth off stupidities to the press, I dunno. Or maybe they just don’t get highlighted as much.

      I’ve all but given up on big screen movies and their “stars”, though.

      Posted by PW on 2006 02 27 at 08:27 AM • permalink


    1. The venerable Dennis Weaver (Chester Goode, Sam McCloud and what a great film is Duel) has died of cancer. This completes the triad and aged celebrites can relax until the next round. RIP all three of these fine actors.

      (ForNow: I think X-Files is the best television ever produced. It and Law and Order–the original–are the only shows I’ll watch in perpetuity.)

      Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 02 27 at 04:11 PM • permalink


    1. Dennis Weaver, too. God damn, I loved McCloud.

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2006 02 27 at 08:24 PM • permalink


    1. Yep, #44 and #45, I too loved McCloud and Duel. A very sad day and very young at 81.

      Posted by AlphaMikeFoxtrot on 2006 02 28 at 04:41 AM • permalink


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