Home / The Rule of Three: Don Knotts, Darren McGavin and Dennis Weaver

The Rule of Three: Don Knotts, Darren McGavin and Dennis Weaver

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As a Child of Television I am saddened to see so many people who came into our homes week after week leave us. I seem to be writing more and more eulogies lately. I love writing about what the departed meant to me or even tell a personal story if I had a chance to meet them. I also feel the need to write these eulogies because the entertainment news shows would rather cover a celebrity break-up than honor the life of someone who made a contribution to the entertainment industry. (See My Entertainment Shows RANT.)

Last Saturday afternoon I heard about Don Knotts’ passing. That evening I wrote about what Mr. Knotts meant to me. Yesterday (Sunday) I heard the news of Darren McGavin’s passing. To the younger generation he was the father, AKA “the Old Man”, in the movie A Christmas Story but to classic TV fans he was Mike Hammer, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and starred in Riverboat, Crime Photographer and The Outsider. He even did a Disney movie with Don Knotts called No Deposit, No Return.

When I was trying to figure out what to say about Mr. McGavin, I’d talk to friends who were fans of his and I kept hearing everyone say, “Who’s the third going to be?” I don’t joke about the fact that celebrities tend to die in groups of three. Back in 1987 I was with a comedy improv group. We were talking and joking about John Huston and Lee Marvin dying one day after the other. Someone asked, “Who’s the third going to be?” and a ditsy blond said, “I hear Lorne Greene is not doing well”. The next day Lorne Greene died. I’m normally not a superstitious person, but I don’t like to tempt fate. I also don’t believe in coincidence. There must be a reason for why celebrities die in groups of three and I believe that we will learn that reason in the next life.

Today I learned that number three, Dennis Weaver, died. To me he will always be McCloud but he also starred in Gunsmoke, Gentle Ben, Kentucky Jones, Emerald Point N.A.S., Stone and Buck James. Mr. Weaver was the Honorary Mayor of Universal City, CA at the same time Don Knotts was the Honorary Sheriff. Mr. Weaver also served as the President of The Screen Actor’s Guild from 1973-1975, and the president of Love Is Feeding Everyone, which fed 150,000 needy people a week in Los Angeles County. He founded the Institute of Ecolonomics, which sought solutions to economic and environmental problems.

If you have to know why celebrities die in groups of three, Ask Jeeves (Why do celebrities die in groups of three? – Ask.com Search). I’m sure someone out there is trying to tie together the fact that all three actors’ first names began with the letter “D”. Instead of connecting the dots after they died, I would rather look at what they contributed in life, and say good night gentlemen and thanks.

Instead of my usual quote I’d like to share this image that I have my head. Barney Fife guarding the Pearly Gates. While he tells McCloud that his horse can come in Kolchak sneaks through to get his story.

Stay Tuned
Tony Figueroa

PS: I believe that there are horses in heaven. You can now go back to connecting the dots.

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About Tony Figueroa

  • Billy Ray Cirus

    To David M. Brown
    Hes referring a study that you should go find. No he hasnt done a statistacal analysis of the frequency of celebrity deaths hes writing a column not trying to disprove an urban legend, dont ask stupid questions that you know that answer to smart ass. It seems like up to 12 months apart is the range. Yes if a fourth dyes it does invalidate the 3 unless the 3 were the same age or are more obviously connected and no this isnt some scientific answer deal with it. No god is not punished If 10 celeberties die in a plane crash. They have to be at least as well known as don knotts or else it is a reach. The evidence for the after life is out there you just need to change your personality. Good point at the end though very true.

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  • rockin rick connick

    All I have to do is think of the scene in “Ghost and Mr. Chicken” when “Luther” boasts to the crowd in the old Simpson place after cathing the ghost, karate,made my whole body a weapon. ’nuff said.

  • Yes. I believe, Christ, Judas, and Mary Magdalene were all killed in the same automobile accident.

  • Did people talk about the rule of three before the plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson?

  • There must be a reason for why celebrities die in groups of three and I believe that we will learn that reason in the next life.

    What study are you referring to? Have you done an actual statistical analysis of the frequency of celebrity deaths throughout the year? Within what range of time must a celebrity die to count as part of a “group of three”? If, a day after the third celebrity dies, another celebrity dies, is the “group of three” invalidated, and do we start talking now about “group of four”? What happens if ten celebrities die in a plane accident at the same time? Is God punished for violating the statistical pattern?

    Other questions occur. What level of fame enables a person to count as a celebrity for purposes of the analysis? For that matter, what’s the evidence for a “next life”?

    One problem with inferring more than can actually be inferred from coincidences is that there’s an observation bias. People who tend to credit this sort of thing notice the coincidences that are unusual (however they may define “unusual”), while ignoring the more unremarkable coincidences. This is how we get people who believe in astrology.

    Meanwhile, actual evidence of actual causal connection goes by the board. If there “must be a reason,” i.e., a cause, for the specific statistical pattern of the deaths of certain celebrities, what can that cause be but malevolent intention? In which case we’re talking about murder. After all, the documented natural causes of the individual deaths would not then be sufficient to explain the deaths. They must have been precipitated somehow in order to be presented to the world as a trio. Which means we need to do a murder investigation whenever we see this allegedly inexplicable three celebrity deaths in a row.

  • TS

    Some of Don’s movies are priceless. The Incredible Mr. Limpet and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken are classics. I could watch them over and over again and laugh at Don’s ability to be such a Nervous Nilly. We’ll miss you Barney!!