Monday, February 27, 2006

In Memoriam

Darren McGavin 1922 - 2006

Perhaps best known for his role as the scrappy newspaper reporter Cark Kolchak in the TV series The Night Stalker, Darren McGavin passed away yesterday from natural causes at the age of 83.

McGavin did plenty of TV and film work in his day and his career spanned five decades. His most famous film role was probably that of "The Old Man" or "Dad" in the 1983 cult classic, A Christmas Story.

McGavin had a tremendous amount of spunk and spirit which he infused into every role he played. Beyond that the ever present twinkle in his eye, and the wryness in his smile made him both charming and funny; it was difficult not to like him the moment he stepped on screen. As his obituary in the LA Times mentions, one of the reasons his character, Carl Kolchak, was so memorable, was because even in grim and ghastly situations, McGavin maintained his sense of humor throughout. McGavin took the concept of the buffoon in a haunted house (see Abbot and Costello) and morphed it into a sort of post-modern, self-reflexive, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, that was neither jaded nor sarcastic but jovial and good natured. Kolchak was chasing after vampires and Gosh Darn it he enjoyed his work. He infused that role with a silly and goofy fun which would later be emulated at times by David Duchovney as Fox Mulder in The X-Files. (A show which creator Chris Carter has openly admitted was largely inspired by Night Stalker.) Darren McGavin's influence on genre TV and on pop culture overall will reverberate for some time. McGavin was one of the good ones and he will be miseed...


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