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