Jewish World Review March 3, 2006/ 3 Adar,
As I said in this space a few weeks ago, everything has a shelf life - even people.
That old saying, "They always go in three's," has never been truer than last week when three
television stars passed away within just a day or two of each other. Dennis Weaver, Don
Knotts, and Darren McGavin all made movies but really were all most famous for their TV work.
All three started in television in the 1950's; all three became famous in successful
series', two of them as deputies, the other as a private eye. All three were in their early
80's (Weaver: 81, Knotts: 81, McGavin: 83), all three won Emmys, and all three had first names
beginning with the letter "D."
Dennis Weaver became famous and won an Emmy for his role as Chester, the deputy and
sidekick of Marshal Matt Dillon in the long running western "Gunsmoke." He later starred as
"McCloud," the cowboy cop in the big city series. And he was the guy who did battle with the
evil big-rig in Steven Spielberg's early made-for TV movie, "Duel."
For millions of fans of "The Andy Griffith Show," Don Knotts will always be Deputy
Barney Fife, although many will remember him from "Three's Company." If you are old enough,
you'll remember Knotts as one of the original cast members on "The Steve Allen Show," along
with Tom Poston, Bill Dana, and Louis Nye. He won five Emmys during his time on the Griffith
"Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer" was Darren McGavin's first series back in the 50's. He
went on to star in several others including "Riverboat," "The Outsider" and then "The Night
Stalker." He is also remembered for his role as the grouchy father in the 1983 movie, "A
Don Knotts and Darren McGavin starred together in the Disney comedy, "No Deposit, No
Return." Darrin McGavin starred with Burt Reynolds in the TV series, "Riverboat." Reynolds
also starred with Dennis Weaver in "Gunsmoke." I don't know what any of that means, but it's
kind of interesting, don't you think? Now if I could only find a link between Dennis Weaver
and Don Knotts I'd really have something. Oh, wait - I forgot. They were both deputies.
Just a few days before these three passed on, my wife's sister's husband of more than 58
years died. He was 81 years old too. Other than the age, there's no connection to Don Knotts,
Dennis Weaver, or Darren McGavin that I'm aware of. His first name was Keith, so even the
letter "D" rule doesn't apply.
Several weeks before Keith died; my mother was hospitalized. While she was in the
hospital, she fell and broke her hip, which required immediate surgery, the surgery itself was
a success, but she started aspirating and was put on a ventilator. All together she spent
about six weeks in the hospital by the time we got the call from New York.
While I was back in New York for my brother-in-law's funeral, my mother was transferred
into a rehab/nursing facility where she remains to this day. She is 83. Not only has she no
connection to Knotts, Weaver, or McGavin, she didn't particularly care for any of them. Well,
maybe she liked Chester a little bit.
Everything has a shelf life. Nothing lasts forever. And a person in his or her 80's
has lived a pretty long time. When it is your loved one, however, it never seems quite long
enough, does it?
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a
letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2005 Greg Crosby