February 26, 2006

Actor Darren McGavin Passes at 83

Five series, one Emmy

Los Angeles, CA – Darren McGavin, the gruff but amiable actor who starred in five TV series, including Riverboat, Mike Hammer and Kolchak: The Night Stalker and whose most memorable film roles include the cantankerous patriarch in the perennial holiday favorite A Christmas Story as well as strong portrayals in Summertime, The Man with the Golden Arm and The Natural, died Saturday. He was 83.

McGavin died of natural causes at a Los Angeles-area hospital with his family at his side.

Born in Spokane, Washington, McGavin seldom discussed specifics of his childhood, which was reputedly fraught with difficulty due to a troubled family life. After a year at College of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where he did some acting, he moved to Los Angeles. While painting sets on the Columbia Pictures film A Song to Remember, he was cast in a small role.

He went on to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse and Actors Studio in New York, where he found steady work in live television drama—including a production of Macbeth starring Charlton Heston—and on Broadway.

McGavin was cast in several supporting roles in feature films, but it was on television that he made his most enduring impact. In addition to his five regular series parts, he appeared in dozens of guest roles, ranging from Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dr. Kildare and Gunsmoke to Love American Style, The Love Boat and Murphy Brown. For the latter, in which he played Candice Bergen’s father, was won his only Emmy in 1990.

McGavin was married twice. In 1944 he wed Melanie York, with whom he had four children. They divorced in 1969. that same year he married Kathie Brown, who died in 2003. He is survived by his four children, York, Megan, Bridget and Bogart.

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