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The Pole Vault

Poles are freedom fighters. It's in their DNA. History is littered with liberty loving patriots of Polish ancestry that fought against tyranny and oppression. Many people know of Kościuszko, Pulaski, Walesa and John Paul 2. Their bravery helped America achieve independence and rid the world of the Soviet threat. But here's another fearless Pole from our archives. He helped us vanquish evil and he left the world a safer place. We could use him again. Today we remember Kolchak the Night Stalker.

Darren McGavin was born William Lyle Richardson on May 7, 1922, in Spokane, WA, to Grace Mitton (Bogart) and Reed D. Richardson. His mother was from Ontario, Canada. He was trained in NYC at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actors Studio. He had a few minor uncredited roles before he landed the key role of Louie the drug pusher in The Man with the Golden Arm(1955) directed by Otto Preminger another great classic from the film files of

Through the 60s he stayed busy with more film roles in movies like The Great Sioux Massacre, The Outsider, The Challengers and The Tribe. He also was a guest star in dozens of TV shows, including Gunsmoke, Dr. Kildare, Mission: Impossible and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

In 1971 he landed the role of cynical reporter Carl Kolchak in the low-budget horror thriller The Night Stalker, about a vampire running amok in Las Vegas. The film was a huge hit and the highest-rated telemovie of 1972, which prompted a sequel.

The "Night Strangler" saw Kolchak in Seattle (after being booted out of Las Vegas by the police), and this time on the trail of a serial killer seeking the elixir of eternal youth. The second movie was equally successful, and spawned the short-lived TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker in 1974

"Kolchak" only lasted one season, but it became a cult classic, and nearly twenty years later its premise of "the unknown amongst us" inspired writer Chris Carter to create the The X-Files, which saw McGavin guest-star in several episodes.

McGavin remained busy throughout the rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s, appearing in Airport '77, as Gen. George S. Patton in the TV miniseries Ike: The War Years, alongside Rock Hudson in the uneven sci-fi miniseries The Martian Chronicles and in 1983 endeared himself to to a whole new generation of fans with his superb performance as the vitriolic, yet buffoonish, father in the delightful Christmas classic A Christmas Story.

He also had a prolific career on stage with critically acclaimed roles throughout the US in productions of "Death of a Salesman", "The Rainmaker", "The King and I" and "Blood Sweat & Stanley Poole", and others. He earned an Emmy award in 1990 for his role as the father figure to Candice Bergens Murphy Brown and appeared with Adam Sandler in Billy Madison.

He died on 25th February 2006 at the age of 83.


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