Monday, February 27, 2006
In the last couple of days three old TV guys have passed on to the next realm. (As to what that is, well, this and hundreds of other sites are at least partly dedicated to figuring that out.) Yesterday Darrin McGavin, Don Knots and today I heard that Dennis Weaver have shuffled off their mortal coils. I guess none of them would really qualify as icons. McGavin was always kind of a second stringer in the title role on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and later as Kolchak on the original Night Stalker. Many will remember Knotts from 3s Company which I never watched, but, of course, his main claim to fame was his stint on The Andy Griffith Show as the bumbling Barney Fife. Fewer will remember Knott's first real exposure on The Steve Allen Show as the nervous, bug eyed "man on the street." Dennis Weaver's most memorable role was his rather short lived tenure on the original Gunsmoke as the hobbling Chester Goode. (Remember him awkwardly running along a wooden sidewalk yelling "Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon.") Of course, he later managed a fairly long running modern day western/detective series, McCloud. He was, some may not remember, the beleaguered traveler in Steven Spielberg's directorial debut, Duel about the homicidal semi.
All three appeared in countless TV and film roles during the course of their respective careers. None were ever true headliners. But, man. All three of these guys were a part of the fabric of early American TV. A good deal of the work they did, would be considered by today's standards stilted and obvious. But at the time, back in the '50s and '60s, they were progenitors of those standards. .
Actually, probably the best actor of the three, McGavin was also the least well known. Again, his stuff was never quite "A" list, even for network TV. Often, Mike Hammer and the later Night Stalker ran on less vital Friday or Saturday nites. But Gunsmoke and later McCloud were always pretty much "A" list shows as were Andy Griffith and 3s Company. They were three of the many faces that one expected to see on a nightly basis on the television shows I grew up with.
I will miss Chester, Barney and Mike.