Thursday, March 02, 2006Via the Countess, I just learned that Darren McGavin passed away February 26th at the age of 83. McGavin had a prolific acting career (including The Man With the Golden Arm, A Christmas Story, etc.), but is probably best known for his role rumple-suited Chicago reporter Carl Kolchak in the Night Stalker television series (1974-75).
The show's groundbreaking newsman-meets-the-supernatural shtick garnered it many cult fans over the years, including Chris Carter, who cited The Night Stalker as one of his major inspirations for The X-Files. In the late 1990's, Carter cast McGavin in a minor recurring role on the show as "Arthur Dales," a former FBI agent retreated into obscurity after investigating a series of cases involving aliens and a U.S. government conspiracy during the chilliest years of the Cold War [5X15 'Travelers,' 6X14 'Agua Mala' and 6X20 'The Unnatural'] - the "original" X-Files. He also had a cameo role as profiler Frank Black's (Lance Henriksen) father in Carter's culty Millennium series.
The original Night Stalker series (which ran for only one season) was finally released as a DVD box set last October. The show took a few episodes to level out, but by early 1975, Kolchak found himself on the trail of bloodthirsty Hindu demons hungry for elderly Chicago flesh, poltergeists cracking the foundations of a new hospital built on sacred Native American ground, and headless motorcyclists hellbent on revenge (in "Chopper," co-written by a young Robert Zemeckis). The X-Files parallels are definitely there, down to Mulder's lonesome oboe leitmotif.
PopMatters has an informative [sh]obit. Farewell, Darren McGavin: you barely had time to enjoy the royalties on the Stalker box set.