Birthday: May 7, 1922
Died At Age: 83
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: William Lyle Richardson
Born in: Spokane, Washington
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Anita Williams (m. 1942 - div. 1943), Kathie Browne (m. 1969 - died. 2003), Melanie York (m. 1944 - div. 1969)
father: Reed Daniel Richardson
mother: Grace Bogart
children: Bogart McGavin, Bridget McGavin, Megan McGavin, York McGavin
Died on: February 25, 2006
place of death: Los Angeles, California
U.S. State: Washington
William Lyle Richardson, known professionally as Darren McGavin, was a popular American actor whose career spanned from the 1940s to the 1990s. He started his movie career with Columbia Pictures, playing uncredited roles, and then went on to work in stage productions. From 1989 to 1992, he played the title character's father in the sitcom ‘Murphy Brown’ and earned an Emmy nomination for his performance. Born in Washington, McGavin spent his early days on a farm with a family after his father boarded him there following his divorce from his mother. He eventually ran away and stayed along the Nisqually River with another family until his father found him and enrolled him in a boarding school. Following his schooling, McGavin briefly lived in San Francisco before reuniting with his mother in southern California. In the ensuing years, he successfully pursued an acting career. He married three times in his life. The actor’s third marriage was to Kathie Browne, a film and television actress. McGavin fathered four children. He lived a long and productive life, dying in 2006 of cardiovascular disease. He was 83.
Childhood & Early Life
Darren McGavin was born as William Lyle Richardson on May 7, 1922 in Spokane, Washington, USA as the only child of Grace Watson and Reed D. Richardson. His parents separated when he was 11 years old. Following their divorce, his custody was granted to his father.
His father, who worked as a traveling salesman, boarded the young boy at a farm to live with a family while he traveled for work. The restless boy ran away from there and went on to stay with a Native American family. He temporarily dodged the police before his father found him and sent him to a boarding school.
He left the boarding school when he was around 16 and temporarily lived in San Francisco. He later went on to reside with his mother and stepfather in southern California.
McGavin attended high school in California. He later studied architecture at University of the Pacific. After this, he studied theater at New York City’s HB Studio.
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Darren McGavin initially joined a local theater group. He then became a part of Columbia Pictures as a painter in 1945. That year, he also had an uncredited role in the film ‘A Song to Remember’.
In 1949, he joined the cast of a touring production of Arthur Miller’s play ‘Death of a Salesman,’ where he played Happy Lohman. He next appeared in the Broadway productions of ‘The Rainmaker’ and ‘My 3 Angels.’
The actor had starring roles in the films ‘Summertime’ and ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’ which released in 1955. That year, he also had a few appearances in the series ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents.’
From 1957 until 1959, McGavin played the title character in ‘Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer,’ the syndicated TV series based on the character of private detective Mike Hammer.
He joined the cast of a western series called ‘Riverboat’ as Captain Grey Holden in 1959. He returned to theater in the year 1964 and performed in the play ‘A Thousand Clowns.’ McGavin starred as David Ross in the detective drama ‘The Outsider’ in 1968.
In 1973, he made his directorial debut with the mystery movie ‘Happy Mother's Day, Love George’ which starred Ron Howard, Cloris Leachman and Bobby Darin. After this, the actor starred in ‘Zero to Sixty’, a comedy produced by his third wife Kathie. In the movie, he played a divorcee trying to sort out his life.
In 1983, McGavin appeared as "Old Man Parker" in Bob Clark's comedy flick ‘A Christmas Story’ which was a moderate success. A year later, he featured as a shady gambler in the film ‘The Natural’. He next did the TV movie ‘Clara’ and earned a CableACE Award for his performance.
In 1990, he earned an Emmy Award nomination for his role in the series ‘Murphy Brown’. From 1993 to 1994, the actor appeared in the play ‘Greetings.’ His last role was as Arthur Dales in the sci-fi drama series ‘The X-Files’.
In 1972, Darren McGavin was cast in the lead role in the supernatural-themed TV movie ‘The Night Stalker’. In the movie, he played a reporter who notices the activities of a vampire on the loose in the city of Las Vegas. Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey, the movie became ABC's highest rated original television film.
The TV film ‘The Night Stalker’s 1973 sequel ‘The Night Strangler’ was also a success. In 1974, a subsequent TV series titled ‘Kolchak: The Night Stalker’ was made, in which McGavin reprised his role of the investigative reporter Carl Kolchak.
Family & Personal Life
Darren McGavin was married three times. In 1942, he married Anita Marie Williams. The couple divorced a year later.
From 1944 to 1969, he was married to actress Melanie York. Their union produced four kids: York, Bogart, Bridget and Megan.
McGavin married actress Kathie Browne in December 1969. They stayed together until Browne’s death in 2003.
On February 25, 2006, McGavin died of cardiovascular disease in a hospital, at the age of 83.