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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The ultimate meaning of life is to embrace that which compels you to act in spite of fear.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Knotts & McGavin

By now you've likely heard or read about the recent passing of Don Knotts and Darren McGavin, 81 and 83 respectively. These two actors played memorable roles in my childhood.

I have fond memories of watching Knotts in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, which always seemed to air on Sunday afternoons. I sympathized with Knotts as he tried to prove he was brave (and a good reporter) - tried to prove he belonged. I can also remember eating chips and drinking pop on the gym floor mats while my friends and I watched this movie.

And then there was McGavin, whose performance as Kolchak: The Night Stalker stays with me to this day. He, too, played a reporter. The situations he found himself in seriously creeped me out. I've encountered the occasional bit of resistance or attitude while following a story, but I've never been attacked by a room full of possessed mannequins. Or maybe that was just in his mind. I don't know: I was 8 at the time. But here I am writing about it. And some say TV doesn't matter. Rubbish.

But I definitely recall the sense of intrigue and the excited conversations with my friends the mornings following each episode. Standing under the big steel cross bolted to the front of the our Catholic school in Markham, we would share our reactions to Kolchak and speculate on the evil that lurked around every corner.

In my quieter moments, I would ponder the role of the storyteller or journalist. The very idea of snooping around and writing about it seemed too good to be true. Perhaps that's why the idea of becoming a writer of any kind never really came back to me until I was long out of university. But that's a whole other story.

What I do know is that I'm sorry to hear about the deaths of these two actors. But they will live on, because these men were a part of my childhood. And they will serve to remind me why I love telling stories so damn much. It's not just about telling them; it's about remembering and retelling them.

And if you inspire someone else to tell stories (yours or theirs), then you've done your job and can rest in peace.

Update: Shortly after I posted this, I heard that Dennis Weaver, also in his early 80s, passed away. What the hell? That's three. Maybe I shouldn't read too much into this. Old people do die.

Still. It's weird.


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