McGavin in Riverboat, 1960
|Born||William Lyle Richardson
May 7, 1922
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
|Died||February 25, 2006
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Cardiovascular disease|
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Anita Williams (m. 1942–43)
Melanie York (m. 1944–69)
Kathie Browne (m. 1969–2003)
Darren McGavin (born William Lyle Richardson, May 7, 1922 – February 25, 2006) was an American film, stage, and television actor best known for his portrayal of the grumpy but loving father in the film A Christmas Story, and for the title role in the television horror series Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
McGavin began his career in walk-on roles and later onstage, appearing in Broadway productions in 1953, and later played the title character in the 1950s television series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. From 1959–1961, McGavin starred in the NBC Western series Riverboat, first with Burt Reynolds and then with Noah Beery, Jr., and in later years, he had a recurring role in the sitcom Murphy Brown, as the title character's father, for which he received an Emmy Award.
McGavin was born in Spokane, Washington, the son of Reed D. Richardson and his wife Grace (Bogart) Watson. According to McGavin, his childhood was turbulent. He ran away from home at age eleven, and lived in abandoned warehouses in Tacoma, Washington during his teenage years.
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McGavin spent a year at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Untrained as an actor, he worked as a painter at Columbia Pictures movie studios in 1945. When an opening became available for a bit part in A Song to Remember, McGavin applied and won his first movie role. Shortly afterwards, he moved to New York City and studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actors Studio under teacher Sanford Meisner. He began working in live TV and on Broadway, including The Rainmaker (where he created the title role), The King and I, and Death of a Salesman.
McGavin returned to Hollywood and became busy in a wide variety of TV and movie roles. In 1955, he appeared in the short film A Word to the Wives with Marsha Hunt, and with roles in the feature films Summertime and The Man with the Golden Arm. During this period, McGavin also appeared on the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents in an episode titled "The Cheney Vase" as a scheming caretaker and aspiring art thief, opposite Carolyn Jones, Patricia Collinge, and Ruta Lee.
Over the course of his career, McGavin starred in seven different TV series and guest-starred in many more; these television roles increased in the late 1950s and early 1960s with leading parts in series such as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and Riverboat. McGavin held a black belt in traditional Japanese karate and was noted for doing many of his own stunts and for the "enthusiasm" he put into some fight scenes, sometimes forgetting to pull his punches and "ad-libbing" moves. McGavin narrated and appeared in The Big Picture TV series in 1967, "The Inner Ring" episode, produced for the Office of the Chief of Information by the Army Pictorial Center.
In 1970, he was in negotiations to replace Larry Hagman as the male lead in the television series I Dream of Jeannie for an intended sixth season, but NBC stated that they would rather cancel the series than have any additional similarities to Bewitched, in which the male lead was replaced by another actor.
McGavin was also known for his role as Sam Parkhill in the miniseries adaptation of The Martian Chronicles. He appeared as a fill-in regular in The Name of the Game in an episode entitled "Goodbye Harry" and was featured as a reporter in one of the Gene Barry segments.
The first of his two best-known roles came in 1972, in the supernatural-themed TV movie The Night Stalker (1972). With McGavin playing a reporter who discovers the activities of a modern-day vampire on the loose in Las Vegas, the film became the highest-rated made-for-TV movie in history at that time; and when the sequel The Night Strangler (1973) also was a strong success, a subsequent television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974) was made. In the series, McGavin played Carl Kolchak, an investigative reporter for the INS, a Chicago-based news service, who regularly stumbles upon the supernatural or occult basis for a seemingly mundane crime; although his involvement routinely assisted in the dispelment of the otherworldly adversary, his evidence in the case was always destroyed or seized, usually by a public official or major social figure who sought to cover up the incident. He would write his ensuing stories in a sensational, tabloid style which advised readers that the true story was being withheld from them. McGavin and the cast were enthusiastic about the series. McGavin reportedly entered into a verbal agreement with Sid Sheinberg (President of MCA and Universal TV) to produce The Night Stalker as a TV series as a coproduction between Universal and McGavin's Taurean Productions. Early promises were never fulfilled, and McGavin expressed concern over script quality and lack of network commitment toward promoting the show. His concerns appeared justified, as the series drifted into camp humor and the production values declined in later episodes.
McGavin was asked to play the role of Arthur Dales, founder of the X-Files, in three episodes: season 5's "Travelers" and two episodes from season 6, "Agua Mala" and "The Unnatural". Failing health forced him to withdraw from the latter, and the script (written and directed by series star David Duchovny) was rewritten to feature M. Emmet Walsh as Dales's brother, also called Arthur.
In 1983, he starred as "Old Man Parker", the narrator's father, in the movie A Christmas Story. He portrayed a middle-class father in 1940's Hohman, Indiana, who was endearing in spite of his being comically oblivious to his own use of profanity and completely unable to recognize his unfortunate taste for kitsch. Blissfully unaware of his family's embarrassment by his behavior, he took pride in his self-assessed ability to fix anything in record time, and carried on a tireless campaign against his neighbor's rampaging bloodhounds. McGavin allegedly received a fee of $2 million to play the role, making him one of the highest-paid actors of the time.
McGavin made an uncredited appearance in 1984's The Natural as a shady gambler, and appeared on a Christmas episode ("Midnight of the Century") of Millennium, playing the long-estranged father of Frank Black (Lance Henriksen); he also appeared as Adam Sandler's character's hotel-magnate father in the 1995 movie Billy Madison.
During the filming of The Natural, Robert Redford was so pleased with McGavin's portrayal of his character that they began to expand the role. However, after a certain point, union rules dictated that the actor's contract needed to be renegotiated for salary and billing. After haggling on salary, and holding up production of the movie because of it, the billing had to be decided. McGavin became somewhat fed up with the proceedings and instructed his agent to waive his billing in the credits entirely so they could get back to filming.
A brief and unsuccessful remake of the Night Stalker TV series in 2005 starred Stuart Townsend. In the initial episode aired on September 29, 2005, McGavin appeared momentarily in the background, using digitally inserted footage from his role in the original series.
Darren McGavin narrated the majority of the audio book versions of the adventure novels by John D. MacDonald in which each title included a color. The central character and main voice of the novels was Travis McGee.
McGavin was married three times. He first married Anita Marie Williams in 1942. He later married Melanie York on March 20, 1944; their marriage ended in divorce in 1969, but produced four children: Bogart, York, Megan, and Graemm Bridget McGavin. The third was to Kathie Browne on December 31, 1969, ending with her death in 2003.
|1945||A Song to Remember||Student||Uncredited|
|1945||Kiss and Tell||Tech Sergeant||Uncredited|
|1946||She Wouldn't Say Yes||The Kid||Uncredited|
|1951||Queen for a Day||Dan|
|1951||Distant Drums||Navy Lieutenant||Uncredited|
|1955||The Man with the Golden Arm||Louie|
|1955||The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell||Russ Peters|
|1955||A Word to the Wives...||George Peters|
|1957||The Delicate Delinquent||Mike Damon|
|1957||Beau James||Charley Hand|
|1958||The Case Against Brooklyn||Pete Harris|
|1964||Bullet for a Badman||Sam Ward|
|1965||The Great Sioux Massacre||Captain Benton|
|1966||African Gold||Mike Gregory|
|1968||Mission Mars||Col. Mike Blaiswick|
|1969||Anatomy of a Crime||David Ross||Television film|
|1970||The Challenge||Jacob Gallery||Television film|
|1970||The Forty-Eight Hour Mile||David Ross||Television film|
|1971||The Death of Me Yet||Joe Chalk||Television film|
|1972||The Night Stalker||Carl Kolchak||Television film|
|1972||Something Evil||Paul Worden||Television film|
|1972||Here Comes the Judge||Judge||Television film|
|1972||Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole||Lou Grazzo||Television film|
|1973||43: The Richard Petty Story||Lee Petty|
|1973||The Night Strangler||Carl Kolchak||Television film|
|1973||Happy Mother's Day, Love George||George Perry||Uncredited|
|1973||The Six Million Dollar Man||Oliver Spencer||Television film|
|1974||Hay que matar a B.||Pal Kovak|
|1976||No Deposit, No Return||Duke|
|1976||Brink's: The Great Robbery||James McNally||Television film|
|1977||Airport '77||Stan Buchek|
|1978||Hot Lead and Cold Feet||Mayor Ragsdale|
|1978||Zero to Sixty||Michael Nolan|
|1978||The Users||Henry Waller||Television film|
|1979||Donovan's Kid||Timothy Donovan||Television film|
|1979||Love for Rent||Coach John Martin||Television film|
|1979||A Bond of Iron||William Weaver||Television film|
|1980||Ike: The War Years||General George S. Patton||Television film|
|1980||Hangar 18||Harry Forbes|
|1980||The Martian Chronicles||Sam Parkill||Miniseries|
|1981||Firebird 2015 AD||Red|
|1983||A Christmas Story||Old Man Parker|
|1984||The Natural||Gus Sands||Uncredited|
|1984||The Return of Marcus Welby, M.D.||Dr. David Jennings||Television film|
|1985||Turk 182||Detective Kowalski|
|1985||The O'Briens||The Father||Television film|
|1986||Raw Deal||Harry Shannon|
|1987||From the Hip||Craig Duncan|
|1987||Tales from the Hollywood Hills: A Table at Ciro's||A.D. Nathan||Television film|
|1988||Inherit the Wind||E.K. Hornbeck||Television film|
|1988||Dead Heat||Dr. Ernest McNab|
|1988||The Diamond Trap||Walter Vadney||Television film|
|1989||In the Name of Blood||Fergus Redding|
|1990||By Dawn's Early Light||Condor||Television film|
|1990||Child in the Night||Os Windfield||Television film|
|1990||Kojak: It's Always Something||Wainright||Television film|
|1990||Captain America||General Fleming|
|1991||Blood and Concrete||Hank Dick|
|1991||Perfect Harmony||Mr. Hobbs||Television film|
|1992||Happy Hell Night||Henry Collins|
|1992||Mastergate||Folsom Bunting||Television film|
|1993||The American Clock||Old Arthur Huntington||Television film|
|1994||A Perfect Stranger||John Henry Phillips||Television film|
|1995||Billy Madison||Brian Madison|
|1995||Derby||Lester Corbett||Television film|
|1999||Pros and Cons||Mr. Stanford|
|2008||Still Waters Burn||Paddy||Filmed in 1996|
- Crime Photographer (1951–1952)
- Tales of Tomorrow (1952), episode "The Duplicates"
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), episodes 3: "Triggers in Leash" and 13: "The Cheney Vase"
- Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (1958–1960)
- Riverboat (1959–1961)
- The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford (November 5, 1959, McGavin is Tennessee Ernie Ford's guest star in a comedy skit about a Riverboat captain.)
- The Islanders (1961), as Phil in "Island Witness"
- "Rawhide" (1961), as Jed Hadley
- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1964), season 2: "A Matter of Murder"
- "Gunsmoke " (1965) in The Hostage as Lon Gorman
- Gunsmoke (1966), three episodes as Joe Bascome
- Cimarron Strip episode: "The Legend of Jud Starr" (1967)
- Custer, ABC series with Wayne Maunder (1967)
- Mission: Impossible (1967)
- The Outsider (1967; 1968–69)
- Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1968), two-part episode "Boomerang, Dog of Many Talents" with Patricia Crowley, Darby Hinton, and Russ Conway
- The Forty-Eight Hour Mile (1970)
- The Challengers (1970)
- Berlin Affair (1970)
- Tribes (1970)
- Banyon (1971) (pilot episode)
- The Rookies (1972) (pilot episode)
- The Six Million Dollar Man (1973) (pilot episode)
- The Evil Touch A Game Of Hearts (1973)Gornak's Prism (1974)
- Police Story (1974)
- Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974–1975)
- Crackle of Death (1976)
- Brinks: The Great Robbery (1976)
- Ike: The War Years (1978)
- The Users (1978)
- A Bond of Iron (1979)
- Donovan's Kid (1979)
- Ike (1979) (miniseries)
- Not Until Today (1979)
- Love for Rent (1979)
- Waikiki (1980)
- The Martian Chronicles (1980) (miniseries)
- Magnum, P.I. (1981)
- Nero Wolfe (1981)
- Freedom to Speak (1982) (miniseries)
- Small & Frye (1983) (canceled after six episodes)
- The Baron and the Kid (1984)
- The Return of Marcus Welby, M.D. (1984)
- My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Legend of Errol Flynn (1985)
- The O'Briens (1985) (sitcom pilot)
- " Tales From the Darkside" Distant Signals (1985)
- Tales from the Hollywood Hills: Natica Jackson (1987)
- Tales from the Hollywood Hills: A Table at Ciro's (1987)
- Inherit the Wind (1988)
- Highway to Heaven (1988)
- The Diamond Trap (1988)
- Murphy Brown (1989)
- Around the World in 80 Days (1989) (miniseries)
- Perfect Harmony (1991)
- Miracles and Other Wonders (1992–199?)
- Mastergate (1992)
- Murder She Wrote (1992)
- A Perfect Stranger (1994)
- Fudge-A-Mania (1995)
- Touched by an Angel (1997), guest appearance
- X-Files (1999), two episodes
- Dinner at Eight – 1967 – Larry
- The King and I – 1966 – The King
- Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole – 1961 – Stanley Pool
- Two for the Seesaw – 1959 – Jerry Ryan
- The Tunnel of Love – 1958 – Dick Pepper
- The Lovers – 1956 – La Crux
- The Innkeepers – 1956 – David McGregor
- The Rainmaker – 1955 – Bill Starbuck
- My 3 Angels – 1954 – Alfred
- Risling, Greg (February 26, 2006). "Actor Darren McGavin Dies at 83". The Washington Post. The Associated Press. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
- According to the 1930 U.S. census
- "Darren Mcgavin Biography (1922-)". filmreference.com.
- "Message Boards". myfamily.com.
- Benjamin, Scott (February 26, 2006). "Actor 'Night Stalker' McGavin Dies". CBS News. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
- "Darren McGavin". Playbill. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
- "Night Stalker". darrenmcgavin.net.
- The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
- "California, County Marriages, 1850-1952," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8VT-926 : 28 November 2014), William Lyle Richardson and Anita Marie Williams, 15 Aug 1942; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 2,114,960.
- "1968 Presidential RaceDemocrats". pophistorydig.com.
- "Actor Darren McGavin dies at 83".
- Darren McGavin at Find a Grave
- The Evil Touch Wikipedia
- Riverboat: The Evolution of a Television Series, by S. L. Kotar and J. E. Gessler. Albany, BearManor Media, 2010. ISBN 978-1-59393-505-4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Darren McGavin.|
- Official website
- Darren McGavin at the Internet Movie Database
- Darren McGavin at the Internet Broadway Database
- Darren McGavin at the TCM Movie Database
- Darren McGavin at the University of Wisconsin's Actors Studio audio collection
- BBC News – Tough-talking actor McGavin dies
- Brozan, Nadine (February 27, 2006). "Darren McGavin, Versatile Veteran Actor, Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010.