Darren McGavin, 83; Played Reporter on TV's 'Night Stalker'

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 26, 2006

Darren McGavin, 83, a film and television actor who appeared on an almost limitless number of television series and shows and set a standard for cynical and hard-boiled gruffness as a reporter in "The Night Stalker" and a detective in "Mike Hammer," died yesterday in California.

A son told the Associated Press that he died in a hospital in the Los Angeles area. No cause of death was specified.

Few actors of his generation remained active longer. Mr. McGavin's acting career has been traced back to a 1941 stage appearance in "Lady Windermere's Fan." There were reports that he worked on a TV pilot last year. He won an Emmy for a role on the TV series "Murphy Brown."

But the 20 episodes of the "Night Stalker" series, in which he played a rumpled, grumpy Chicago news reporter whose determination to follow every lead allows him to save society from the dangers of the supernatural, seemed to define his career.

The episodes in which he played Carl Kolchak on ABC in 1974 and 1975 were distinguished by his portrayal of the dogged shoe-leather reporter and combined the appeal of the newsroom drama with the attractions of fantasy and the occult.

Before that, he played Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer in the late 1950s, staying just this side of farce in his demonstration of the ultimate toughness of the private eye.

Documentation of his early life seemed sparse last night. In some accounts, he was born in Spokane, in others in the San Joaquin Valley area of California. Delano is listed for his father's middle name, Bogart for his mother's.

Mr. McGavin had a year of college in California, then went east to the Actors Studio.

Survivors include four children.

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