Monday, February 27, 2006

Death, Darren, and Dennis

Wow. First Don Knotts, then Darren McGavin, now Dennis Weaver.

It's true: Celebrities really do die in threes.

Although Darren McGavin is probably best remembered today as the father in the holiday perennial A Christmas Story, I still think of him as Carl Kolchak, the tabloid reporter with a nose for the supernatural, in the classic '70s TV movies The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler, and the short-lived but much-loved followup series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker. McGavin was also excellent in an uncredited role as Gus Sands, the gambling kingpin who tries to sway Robert Redford's Roy Hobbs from the straight and narrow in one of my all-time favorite films, The Natural.

The sad irony for me in Dennis Weaver's passing is that I'm currently writing a review of what now turns out to be his final work — the first season of the ABC Family series Wildfire. In fact, KM and I were watching a couple of episodes in the last 24 hours. But of course, in my youth Weaver was gimpy-legged deputy Chester Goode in old Gunsmoke reruns, and the forest ranger dad on Gentle Ben, transplanted marshal Sam McCloud in dozens of TV mysteries, and TV commerical pitchman extraordinaire.

I'll view the rest of these Wildfire episodes with a poignant air.

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