Friday, February 25, 2011

McGavin, Mobsters, and Monsters

Incredibly, it was five years ago today that American actor Darren McGavin--whose television roles included leads in Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (1958-1960), Riverboat (1959-1961), and Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975)--passed away in Los Angeles at age 83.

I wrote about McGavin’s career the day after he died. Rather than rehash all that information, I’ll simply commemorate this anniversary by posting videos from two of the aforementioned TV series. The first clip is the main title sequence from McGavin’s Hammer, followed by a scene in which McGavin faces off against guest star Steve Inhat.

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These next two videos show McGavin in what may be his best-remembered role, as investigative reporter Carl Kolchak, a guy with a frightening tendency to stumble upon mythical and murderous monsters. We start with the ABC series’ splendidly creepy introduction (and a brief scene from one of the episodes, “The Werewolf”), followed by a set of clips from the 1972 teleflick The Night Stalker, in which Kolchak faced off against a vampire in Las Vegas. The Night Stalker of course inspired the subsequent series and was, for its time, the highest-rated small-screen movie on record.

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Rest in peace, Darren McGavin.

READ MORE:How Kolchak: The Night Stalker Developed an Early Model for TV Horror,” by Phil Dyess-Nugent (A.V. Club).

7 comments:

RJR said...

McGavin also played Private Eye David Ross in the short-lived series THE OUTSIDER in the mid-60's (1966?) which many--included among them myself a Bill Pronzini--feel wa sone of the best P.I. shows on t.v.

RJR

David Cranmer said...

His turn on THE X-FILES was inspired casting.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Hey, Bob:

I'd have been happy to feature a scene or two from The Outsider, but I've never seen that McGavin series, and I don't find clips from it anywhere on the Web.

If anybody has video from The Outsider that they'd like to share in The Rap Sheet, please let me know.

Cheers,
Jeff

Steve Scott said...

My favorite McGavin role is perhaps his most obscure: Travis McGee in Audiobook versions of almost all of John D MacDonald's famous series. He was the best McGee ever... as well as being the best of all the other characters as well. His talent really brought those great novels to life, and made you realize the genius of MacDonald's singular first-person narrative. Those books-on-tape are some of the most amazing examples of acting I have ever heard.

Max Allan Collins said...

McGavin was an excellent small-screen Mike Hammer. He wasn't a brute but was believely tough. He was affable but was capable of rage. And he walked through a landscape littered with every B movie queen and starlet of the era with palpable delight.

I loved that show as a kid, turned slightly against it when I got older (because of the ways in which the show was not true to Spillane) but again have come to appreciate it as among the best of the late fifties private eye TV craze.

squeezegutalley said...

McGavin was wonderful as Kolchak and I thought his appearances as the first X-Files operative were nice too.

I've never seen his Mike Hammer. From the clip above, I think I need to. Soon!

Terrill Lee Lankford said...

My favorite McGavin performance is in an episode of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE entitled DISTANT SIGNALS. He played an alcoholic actor who had starred in a 60s TV show that looked like a mixture of HAMMER and THE FUGITIVE. A very nostalgic look at that particular brand of noir filmmaking and a great half hour of television.