Darren McGavin

May 7, 1922 – February 25, 2006


Darren McGavin
Darren McGavin


Tis the season, right?  It’s December 12th, 2006, and I’m pretty excited for Christmas.  I love this holiday, and totally feed into the hokeyness of it.  I adore the lights, trees and even Santa hats for dogs.



I also enjoy watching my favorite Christmas shows and movies.  I love when new films come out, and instantly (in my mind anyway) become classics.  Though hardly a new format, I think ELF with Will Farrell is fantastic.  Christmas wise,  A Christmas Story, starring Mr. McGavin, above, is classic.

Find a Death friend JCW put it well, when he said, “If he’d never done anything than be Ralphie’s Old Man, he’d earned his spot in immortality.”  True words, JCW.  It’s obviously a movie that has touched many, and I think it’s awesome that some guy bought the house from the film, and has opened it to the public.  I want to do this.  Bad.

Mr. McGavin had an impressive career, which is well documented here, including the holy grail of 70’s horror shows, Kolchak, the Night Stalker.  This show scared the sh*t out of me when I was a kid.



Thanks to Find a Death friend Jim Latson, we know that Darren lived in this house in Benedict Canyon, in Beverly Hills until the mid 00’s, when his health was taking a turn for the worse.




He was well liked, well respected and always responded to fan mail when written.



Darren’s wife Kathie died in 2003 and eventually Darren moved in with his son, York, in this lovely home in Northridge.




It was in this home, when Darren passed away at approximately 7  a.m. on February 25, 2006 – just three months short of his 84th birthday.

There was a public memorial service for Darren in the chapel at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Sunday, March 5th (he was on ice for 8 days?).  The following information was taken from this website – I would link them directly, but don’t want them to lose their bandwidth, so it’s with respect that I repeat this information, and link to their terrific Darren McGavin website.

The foyer had a table filled with McGavin lobby cards and family photographs.




Photos courtesy of Steve Goldstein of Beneathlosangeles.com.

Darren’s body was actually in attendance, and he was in this very handsome casket.



It was well attended, with approximately 130 persons showing up.  They had Sinatra singing “My Way” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”  Soloists sang “In My Life” and “A Place for Us.”

The speakers included Jack Grinnage, who gave an account of his long friendship with McGavin, and read Richard Valley’s valedictory e-mail following McGavin’s death; McGavin’s granddaughter Rhiannon, about 7-years-old, who got one sentence deep into her eulogy before choking up; McGavin’s oldest son, York, who narrated a brief history of his own Life With Father, while hundreds of family photographs flickered past on a memorial DVD. The mic was left open to the attendees for a few minutes; among the speakers were Carol Ann Susi from “Night Stalker,” and the still-boyish actor, Scott Schwartz, who played Flick in “A Christmas Story.” Then McGavin’s daughter closed the ceremony with a pair of appropriate quotes from Shakespeare, recited “Good night, sweet prince,” and “flights of angels sing thee to thy rest,” and looked toward the coffin one last time.

During the recording of Darren himself singing “Shall We Dance” from “The King and I,” the pallbearers wheeled Darren’s casket to the hearse, where it was driven to the graveside for a small service.



The grave had already been dug, and my pal Lisa Burks snapped this photograph.



The funeral director invited attendees to deposit shovels of earth into the grave and approximately sixteen people participated.

There was some talk about Darren’s final destination, and why he wasn’t buried with his wife.  It boils down to Darren not making arrangements prior – and his children really not caring for Darren’s widow – so they had him buried elsewhere.  Take my advice, make your own final arrangements.  At least buy a grave.  Its a horrible thing to leave to someone else, who is grieving.  You want it done your way?  Do it yourself.  I did.  It just makes sense.


I drove to the graveside, the next day.  I took these photographs of the flower pile,

and Dekker shows up in this one.




He doesn’t have a proper gravestone yet.

Rest in Peace, Mr. McGavin.


Trivia: In a respectful nod, they asked Darren to make a quick appearance in that abortion Kolchak remake in 2005.

Bob Clark, who directed A Christmas Story, was killed along with his son in a head-on car collision, in Pacific Palisades, CA, on April 4 of this year.


This page was is dedicated in appreciation, to Richard Waybright.

thanks Harry.



10 thoughts on “Darren McGavin

  • May 24, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    Like you, I also remember “Kolchak, the Night Stalker” as a great horror show from the ’70s. Don’t know how it “holds up” now, but remember it fondly.

    Only thing I remember about him, on a personal level, was that Burt Reynolds really, but I do mean REALLY, didn’t like him. No clue as to why –

  • May 6, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Once in a while I get an inkling and reach out to a performer I admire. Mr. McGavin was one such, just a few months beore his death. I emailed to let him know how much I had enjoyed his performances, from the 50s onward and told him I had been a HUGE fan of The Night Stalker, and that he was forever and always a part of my Christmas celebrations.

    Low and behold, I received a reply. It came from Mr. McGavin’s assistant, who informed me he was quite ill and not up to responding personally, but had asked them to reply and tell me I had made him smile that day and he said to tell me “Thank you”. I remember this contact every Christmas season, and am always happy I took the time to let him know I appreciated him.

    • December 18, 2022 at 5:33 am

      Wonderful. Thank you. Mr. McGavin is one of my favorite actors. His personality came out in the roles he played, and it showed strength, honesty, intelligence, compassion and humor.

  • January 12, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    Boomers loved him from Kolchak
    A Christmas Story let’s him live on forever, and so well deserved

  • October 28, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    In the early 90s, I was setting up a book project, and I wanted to interview Mr. McGavin. Back then, if you played a little Jim Rockford and said you were an agent, you could just call SAG and get a number–seriously. Sure enough, got right through to…Mr. McGavin’s Taurean Productions answering machine. It was his voice. Unmistakable. And strange. Cool that it was him…but it also sounded like your local swimming pool company after hours. Kinda cheap. I was rattled, so I hung up. Called back two more times, still hung up, not sure what to do. Then…I realized I left three hang-ups on his machine and if they had caller I.D….. I just skipped him.

  • July 4, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    McGavin’s wife Kathie died in 2003, so he didn’t have a widow his children didn’t care for. (Trivia: she was Kathie Browne, played Adam Cartwright’s almost-wife on “Bonanza”.)

    • February 15, 2022 at 4:19 pm

      I was told by someone in the know that his children always ‘hated’ Kathie. However, by all accounts, Darren loved her dearly, and was heartbroken when she died, not wanting to leave her casket. Now, the two of them are buried by themselves, in separate cemeteries.

  • December 27, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks for continuing to maintain and add to this site!

    Toward the end I emailed Mr. McGavin to let him know how much I
    had appreciated his work. By then he was too ill to answer personally, but
    an assistant got right back to me let me know they had read my email to
    him and that it made him happy and he wanted to thank me.

    Class act

  • December 11, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Sitting at work going through the directory line by line…..you said it: the night stalker used to scare the s__t out of my 10 yr old skin every week! What made it special was living in a trailer in South Carolina with Mom and 1 year old sister while

    Dad spent a year in Alaska with Air Force. I think it was on Friday night? Mom would take me and sis to gas station, buy like 4 candy bars then go back to trailer and watch NS and eat candy bars! And then send me to bed terrified!!!! Happy memory! Thanks!

    • October 5, 2022 at 8:35 am

      What a wonderful memory! I loved the show back then and still watch it now on line. It’s
      Just so good.

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