Knotts, McGavin: Our Present Business Is General Woe


Proving that the universe is ruled by a malevolent god, America must cope with the double sorrow of losing Don Knotts and Darren McGavin within a single 24-hour period. Too soon gone, the ever-youthful stars were 81 and and 83, respectively. Knotts, beloved for decades as Mr. Limpet, Barney Fife, Mr. Furley, and the title hero of The Reluctant Astronaut (which I once believed was the greatest film ever made), needs no introduction, so I'll just say that he enjoyed the career longevity of actors who never looked young. Even in recent years, when he was really getting decrepit and doing mostly voice work, Knotts still managed to show up once in a while in a guest spot, inevitably stealing whatever show he graced.

McGavin, another world-class scene stealer, had an even more varied career, but in his signature part in the horror series Kolchak:The Night Stalker—which easily trounces All the President's Men and all other contenders as the greatest reporter-as-hero work in the canon—he outshone not only the walk-on vampires and demons but a supporting cast that included Simon Oakland, Ruth McDevitt, and John Fiedler. (Where can you find a cast like that today?)

Sure, the rule of three deaths is just superstition, but still I fear for Robert "Exidor" Donner.