Who remembers the actor Darren McGavin?
An American actor best known for his portrayal of the grumpy father in the film called, “A Christmas Story,” and for the title role in the television horror series called, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” which was my favorite show if I could stay up late enough to watch it.
McGavin was born on May 7th 1922, as William Lyle Richardson in Spokane, Washington, a son of Reed Daniel Richardson and his wife Grace Bogart Watson.
In interviews in the 1960s, McGavin said, “My parents divorced when I was very young, and my father was unable to care for me, and since there was no other family that could take me in. I was placed in an orphanage at age eleven.”
McGavin began to run away, sleeping on the docks and in warehouses. He would live in three different orphanages. The last was the Dyslin Boys Ranch in Pierce County, Washington, a boys’ home, which turned out to be a safe haven. Farm chores were assigned, and he lived with other boys who had also been abandoned by their parents. McGavin said the ranch’s owners helped him develop a sense of pride and responsibility that turned his life around. He was rejected for military service during World War II because of his bad knees.
Untrained as an actor, McGavin worked as a painter at Columbia Pictures movie studios in 1945. When an opening became available for a bit part called, “A Song to Remember,” McGavin applied for the part and won his first movie role at the age of twenty three.
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.”
When he returned to Hollywood, McGavin became busy in a wide variety of TV and movie roles.
The first of his two best-known roles came in 1972, in the supernatural-themed TV movie, “The Night Stalker.”
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,” came out in 1973, which was also a strong success, a subsequent television series came out of both movies he starred in had landed him in the television series called, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” in 1974.
In a long and varied career, McGavin has often turned up as authority figures including policemen, military officers, stern-faced business executives or father figures; however, he is equally adept at light-hearted comedic performances.
A few years later endeared himself to a whole new generation of fans with his superb performance as the vitriolic, yet buffoonish, father in the delightful Christmas classic, “A Christmas Story,” that came out in 1983.
Today’s YouTube video is brought to you by user name, “Hot Movie Previews,” is the original commercial played in 1983 of the movie called, “The Christmas Story.”
My favorite part in the movie was when he opened the box called fragile and displayed that hideous leg lamp in front the window, but I’m sure you have your own favorite part of the movie too.
Darren McGavin died of natural causes, on February 25th 2006, at the age of eighty three.
The role of Mr. Parker, Ralphie’s father, was originally offered to Jack Nicholson, who reportedly was interested in playing the part. Director Clark, however, lobbied hard for Darren McGavin. The producers, worried about Nicholson’s typically large salary requests, eventually approved McGavin, which in my opinion Darren McGavin was perfect for the role.
As we remember Darren McGavin today, in all the wide variety of roles he played, we are not sad to see him go, but excited to share his movie career with everyone we know, as we wish Darren McGavin a Happy Birthday today!
Written and Designed by JD Mitchell