February 25 2006

Two Greats In One Day

Celebrity deaths always seem to come in sets of three. Today we lost two greats in one cycle.

Don Knotts passed away last night at the age of 81. He passed away from pulmonary and respiratory complications at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center. Knotts was best known as Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, a role he won 5 Emmy awards for. In 1979 he joined the cast of Three’s Company, bringing him even more recognition.

Where I always loved him was in his G Rated films such as The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Reluctant Astronaut were two of his best known, but my favorite was always The Incredible Mr. Limpet. He even worked up until very recently lending his voice to the character of “Turkey Lurkey” in Chicken Little and appearing in an episode of “That 70’s Show” as Fez and Jackie’s landlord.

The second passing was more sentimental to me…Darren McGavin. One of my earliest memories is watching his short-lived, but important in so many ways, series, Kolchak – The Night Stalker, but to most people he is known as “the old man” in A Christmas Story. He passed away of natural causes in a Los Angeles area hospital earlier today.

Darren had such a long career though, but never was a break-out success. He was a “character actor” who was brought in for lots of numerous parts, but those of us who loved him were loyal beyond description. It didn’t matter what he appeared in, if we knew he was in it, we watched it. My father’s love of him even extended to the books on tape he read.

What a contrast in their passings though. An actor everyone knew and adored, and one that most people said “Oh yeah, that guy.” Personally I loved them both, but Darren stings a bit more.

Don Knotts
Darren McGavin
July 21, 1924 – February 24th, 2006
May 7th, 1922 – February 25th, 2006


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