R.I.P. Darren McGavin

2006/02/26 18:02:14
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/02/26 18:09:11

McGavin, 'A Christmas Story' father, dies at 83

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Darren McGavin was painting a movie set in 1945 when he learned of an opening for a small role in the show, climbed off his ladder, and returned through Columbia's front gates to land the part.

Darren McGavin, who died Saturday, shown in a 1992 photo.

The husky, tough-talking performer went on to become one of the busiest actors in television and film, starring in five TV series, including "Mike Hammer," and endearing holiday audiences with his role as the grouchy dad in the 1983 comedy classic "A Christmas Story."

McGavin, 83, died Saturday of natural causes at a Los Angeles-area hospital with his family at his side, said his son Bogart McGavin.

McGavin also had leading roles in TV's "Riverboat" and cult favorite "Kolchak: The Night Stalker." Among his memorable portrayals was U.S. Army Gen. George Patton in the 1979 TV biography "Ike."

Despite his busy career in television, McGavin was awarded only one Emmy: in 1990 for an appearance as Candice Bergen's opinionated father in an episode of "Murphy Brown."

He lacked the prominence in films he enjoyed in television, but he registered strongly in featured roles such as the young artist in Venice in "Summertime," David Lean's 1955 film with Katharine Hepburn and Rosanno Brazzi; Frank Sinatra's crafty drug supplier in "The Man with the Golden Arm" (1955); Jerry Lewis's parole officer in "The Delicate Delinquent" (1957); and the gambler Gus Sands in 1984's "The Natural" that starred Robert Redford.

He also starred alongside Don Knotts, who died Friday night, in the 1976 family comedy "No Deposit, No Return."

Throughout his television career, McGavin gained a reputation as a curmudgeon willing to bad-mouth his series and combat studio bosses.

McGavin starred in the private eye series "Mike Hammer" in the 1950s. In 1968 he told a reporter: "Hammer was a dummy. I made 72 of those shows, and I thought it was a comedy. In fact, I played it camp. He was the kind of guy who would've waved the flag for [Alabama Gov.] George Wallace."

Troubled childhood
Born in Spokane, Washington, McGavin was sketchy in interviews about his childhood. He told TV Guide in 1973 that he was a constant runaway at 10 and 11, and as a teen lived in warehouses in Tacoma, Washington, and dodged the police and welfare workers. His parents disappeared, he said.

He spent a year at College of the Pacific in Stockton, California, taking part in dramatics, then landed in Los Angeles. He washed dishes and was hired to paint sets at Columbia studio. He was working on "A Song to Remember" when an agent told him of an opening for a small role.

"I climbed off a painter's ladder and washed up at a nearby gas station," McGavin said. "I returned through Columbia's front gate with the agent." The director, Charles Vidor, hired him. No one recognized him but the paint foreman, who said, "You're fired."

McGavin studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actors Studio and began working in live TV drama and on Broadway. He appeared with Charlton Heston in "Macbeth" on TV and played Happy in "Death of a Salesman" in New York and on the road.

He is survived by his four children -- York, Megan, Bridget and Bogart -- from a previous marriage to Melanie York McGavin, Bogart McGavin said. McGavin was separated from his second wife, Kathy Brown, he said.

Services were set for March 5 at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
Filet Mignon
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/02/26 19:38:23

"FRA-GI-LAY... hehe, it must be Italian!" I wonder how many takes before he could do that with a straight face. If you look at Melinda Dillon, she is barely keeping it in as he says that.

You just know that they have leg-lamps in heaven.

Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/02/26 21:14:57
Who remembers him in the old TV show Night Stalker?
mr chips
Filet Mignon
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/02/27 04:03:42
I loved Kolchak. Mr. McGavin was everywhere on the tube as a guest star and I thought he was a fine actor.
Extreme Glow
Double Cheeseburger
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/02/27 08:56:20
I remember Night Stalker very well. I was a young teenager in 1974 and it was something really different. I put the Night Stalker movie pilot on my Netflix queue, but I'm sure it won't be the same.

Loved him in A Christmas Story as well.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/02/27 09:37:21
My first memories of Darren McGavin are from his appearance in the 1959-1961 TV series "Riverboat". His co-star for the first year or so was Burt Reynolds. I was only a kid, but I think it was a pretty good show. pb
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/02/27 10:05:08
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/02/27 14:27:43
Originally posted by fpczyz


RIP Darren. Great actor who went for the entertainment and not the big box office scores!
Double Cheeseburger
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/03/01 13:36:25
A Christmas Story is one of my all time favorite movies. Darren McGavin as The Old Man was just wonderful. "The Old Man worked in obscenity like other artists worked in clay or oils. It was his true medium."

I didn't know that he was in Summertime. That's a gorgeous movie.

Must remember to add Kolchak to my netflix queue.
RE: R.I.P. Darren McGavin 2006/03/01 13:57:33

Narrator: Some men are Baptists, others Catholics, my father was an Oldsmobile man.
Mr. Parker: That son of a bitch would freeze up in the middle of summer on the equator!