Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Captain of The Busted Flush Sails Away

via Mark Evanier, I just found out that Darren McGavin passed away yesterday, at age 83.

You probably remember him best as reporter Carl Kolchak of The Night Stalker, two very good made-for-TV movies, and a not-so-good one-season TV series. I still remember laughing out loud at a scene from the second TV movie (incidentally titled, The Night Strangler and written, as the first was, by the great Richard Matheson) where Kolchak, in a crowded elevator, relates killing the vampire of the first movie. "How did you do that?" questions his companion. "I put a stake through his heart," Kolchak answers. They reach the top floor, the doors open, Kolchak and friend leave the elevator and turn... to find the rest of the passengers eying them warily and all staying in the elevator until the doors close again.

If you're a little older, you may also remember McGavin from The Outsider, a pretty good PI series that ran for three seasons in the late `60s. The Outsider was created by Roy Huggins, who also created "Run For Your Life" (which I desperately want to see on DVD) and "The Fugitive" but never really got the attention of either of those two. If you ever see The Outsider running on cable, give it a look.

And if you start approaching my age, you may remember McGavin from the late 50s-early `60s TV series, Riverboat, where he played Captain Grey Holden of the Mississippi riverboat, Enterprise. I've had a lifelong love affair with riverboats, and this series, which I watched religiously at ages 8 and 9, had a lot to do with that.

On a personal note, McGavin will always be Travis McGee - recoverer of conned propery,cynical knight of the rusty armor, bent lance and spavined steed, and skipper of the 52-foot houseboat, The Busted Flush - to me. While he had no physical similarities to MacDonald's "salvage consultant, " McGavin did the narration for the audio versions of 19 of the 21 Travis McGee books... and did one helluva job. I think John D. would have loved his readings, and I'll never pick up one of the books again without hearing McGavin's voice.

A tough weekend. Don Knotts, who did the wonderful The Incredible Mr. Limpet as well as so much more, and Darren McGavin.

And our ship sails on.

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