Kolchak, the Eternal Night Stalker

Contributed by
Feb 26, 2006

'Major bummer. Darren McGavin died on Saturday.

Most people probably know him as the dad in "Christmas Story", the movie where the kid wants the BB gun (and eventually shoots his eye out). But to me, he will always be Karl Kolchak, the gritty, goofy, news reporter who investigated weird deaths in Chicago, only to find there was some supernatural cause behind them (vampires, succubi, ghosts, Greek gods, aliens, a robot, you name it).

I loved that show when I was a kid. There are many scenes that still stick with me (like the monster that appears as someone you trust, and Kolchak says he doesn't trust anyone, but then in a dark alley the old lady he works with comes up to him, and he shoots her in the belly with the blessed crossbow... wow). Chris Carter says "Night Stalker" inspired him to create "The X-Files", and McGavin later had a guest role on the show.

Yes, I know, I'm a skeptic and a critical thinker and someone who fights the idea of the existence of vampires, ghosts, succubi and what-have-you. But I still have an imagination, and still love to hear stories (the difference is I know when they're true or not). And when I was a kid I sucked down all that stuff: monster movies, scary TV shows ("The Outer Limits" creeped the hell out of me when I was little) ,and all that. "Night Stalker" was the epitome of those shows, and Kolchak's character -- the surly but lovable anti-hero -- was my favorite.

Don Knotts died yesterday as well, and I suppose in popular culture, his name is much bigger (I did love "The Incredible Mr. Limpett" when I was a kid, and he was really funny in "Pleasantville"), but it's Darren McGavin who had a bigger influence on me. I'm sorry to see him gone, but I'm glad he was around as long as he was.

Update: Geez, Saturday was a bad day. We lost Octavia Butler, science fiction author, too. Also , Henry Morris, the person who is probably most responsible for the modern creationist movement, also died. Like I said when Moon Hoax originator Bill Kaysing died, I'm never happy when someone dies, but everyone has to go sometime, and some people do more bad than good in the world. Morris may have believed in what he was doing, but what he did has caused a vast amount of strife and set parts of the U.S. back a hundred years in science learning.'

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