Darren McGavin was the only man to play Kolchak

"The minute I saw him, I knew he was the only actor to play Carl Kolchak."

If you were to try to explain the plot of Kolchak: The Night Stalker to a stranger, they might think you were crazy. While the original series didn't last incredibly long, the television series has enjoyed a dutiful and loyal fanbase since its cancellation. The good news is that even though this loveably strange show was ended ahead of its time, we also have a few different Kolchak films to enjoy in addition to the series, and this includes the television film that started it all: Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

The book Produced and Directed by Dan Curtis is a novel compiled by Jim Pierson that explores the projects of Dan Curtis. Curtis is perhaps best known for the series Dark Shadows, but he is also the producer of the film Kolchak: The Night Stalker as well as director of The Night Strangler. The introduction of the book, written by Mark Dawidziak, does reminisce about the production of the first Kolchak film, which Curtis was invited to produce by ABC-TV head Barry Diller.

Curtis said, "He [Diller] tells me about this vampire story and I'm listening to him and thinking, 'There's no way I'm going to do this.' I almost didn't do it. You know what I did? I told him I was a great big movie director now, so I wasn't interested in doing television. Can you believe it?" Still, Diller was persistent. Curtis continued, "Barry says to just sit tight. He wants to send me the story. That did it...What a great story — so traditional yet so modern. And it had a sense of humor. It was a great premise waiting to be made into a great movie."

By the time Curtis agreed to produce, the film was still looking for its star. Interestingly enough, Darren McGavin had been looking for a story like Kolchak for quite some time at that point. He said, "We are surrounded by mysteries that we don't know how to combat or deal with. Kolchak is the seeker of truth who will break that veil of secrecy. That's the initial springboard of the character, and that's what I always wanted to play."

Even better, while McGavin was realizing that he wanted to play Kolchak, Curtis was realizing that there was no one better for the job. He said, "The minute I saw him, I knew he was the only actor to play Carl Kolchak. Darren McGavin was a big reason that The Night Stalker worked so well. Nobody can deny that. And nobody should have been surprised by that. He was one of the most underrated actors in show business."

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28 Comments

John 3 months ago
Enough already with Kolchak time for a shakeup on Sat Sci Fi

Kolchak only ran 1 season. Run Invaders Voyage, etc.

I know every word of dialogue in Kol hak sheesh!
mcharris 7 months ago
I always enjoyed Darren McGavin's performances. He was especially entertaining as Kolchak. However, I have read several unfortunate comments in biographies of some of his film and television colleagues. They all agree that Mr. McGavin was petty and insecure in his treatment of his fellow performers.
MadMat2102 7 months ago
I recall Darren McGavin as the cold hared ruthless government agency head who authorized the creation of the "world's first bionic man" in the original "The Six Million Dollar Man" made for Tv movies as a kid.
Avie 7 months ago
"The book Produced and Directed by Dan Curtis is a novel compiled by Jim Pierson that explores the projects of Dan Curtis."

A novel is a work of fiction; this is non-fiction. "Novel" and "volume" are NOT interchangeable terms.

Who writes this stuff?
trogg888 7 months ago
I agree noone could have done that better.too bad it didnt last longer.i still watch it every week.
George58 7 months ago
Kolchak & Matlock both seem to have a wardrobe issue. They always wear the SAME color suit.
marjean 7 months ago
Always loved watching him. He was memorable in a Gunsmoke episode as a gunman who falls in love with a Chinese girl.
Ratt1959 7 months ago
The Kolchak TV show and movies were some of my favorites to watch as a kid, and still think they are great all these years later. Darren McGavin simply made the show great.
dougloch 7 months ago
I love this show sooooo much!! I just picked up an original 1st edition of the book “The Night Stalker” based on the 1st movie, adapted by Richard Matheson! Not mint condition, but valuable to me to read.
LmerFudd 7 months ago
David Chase, who later created The Sopranos, helped create the Kolchak tv series, he is in the opening credits.
DannyZ 8 months ago
As a matter of fact, I just picked up a copy of The Night Strangler from the local library!
SDWriter 8 months ago
Yes, Darren McGavin — real name William Lyle Richardson — was vastly underrated, if that is possible for an actor who enjoyed a long, successful career. “Kolchak” endures largely due to him, despite the many weak episodes and poorly crafted plots. He was just compelling to watch. In “The Natural,” he was hired to play a small role as the conniving gambler Gus Sands. He as supposed to be a minor figure, but McGavin was so good, the role was expanded. He was not billed in the movie but his salary was increased, and he received positive reviews.
trogg888 SDWriter 7 months ago
Loved him in that movie and one of my favorite movies of all time
Billmimms 8 months ago
MeTV is incredible with the shows they choose. My only go to for entertainment. I can't believe they chose the Night Stalker. My dad introduced this show to me. I normally don't care for "paranormal" shows. NS is so much different.
Andybandit 8 months ago
I look forward to watching K:TNS tonight on Svengoolie.
MrsPhilHarris Andybandit 8 months ago
I hadn’t seen it for years. It was great!
cperrynaples 8 months ago
Another mistake: If you're writing a book chronicaling the life of a real person, you DON'T it call a novel! A novel is a made-up story whereas Dan Curtis was a real person!
Snickers cperrynaples 8 months ago
You don't it call a novel? What does that even mean?
Bricat2001 Snickers 8 months ago
it would be an autobiography then i think?
Snickers Bricat2001 8 months ago
Could be I guess.
Pacificsun Bricat2001 8 months ago
Well no, an autobiography are facts and history you write (or dictate) about yourself. A biography are facts and history written about someone else.
cperrynaples Pacificsun 8 months ago
Well, let's just establish that since Curtis didn't write this book, it's a biography! An novel by deffinition makes up a story! For example, Blonde is a novel because Joyce Carol Oates speculates about Marilyn Monroe's life whereas I assume this book is based on verified facts!
Pacificsun cperrynaples 8 months ago
😊
Not that I care all that much ....
.... you might want to redirect your reply, since we don't disagree.
Tresix 8 months ago
Then came the 2005-6 reboot. Not a good show.
sagafrat69 8 months ago
McGavin was the only one to play Kolchak but he's also the one who killed any chances of a second season. Great show that died way to early.
Pacificsun sagafrat69 8 months ago
"McGavin reportedly entered into a verbal agreement with Sid Sheinberg (president of MCA and Universal TV) to produce The Night Stalker as a TV series as a co-production between Universal and McGavin's Taurean Productions. Early promises were never fulfilled, and McGavin expressed concern over script quality and lack of network commitment toward promoting the show. His concerns appeared justified, as the series drifted into camp humor and the production values declined in later episodes.[20] "
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darren_McGavin#Early_life
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