Luminaries Live on DVD
2 Mar, 2006
By: Erik Gruenwedel
The Feb. 24 and 25 deaths of veteran actors Don Knotts, Dennis Weaver and Darren McGavin, and the March 1 death of Jack Wild, dwindled the number of lifelines to a bygone era of television.
Thanks to TV DVD, however, Knotts, who died of lung cancer at 81; Weaver, who died of cancer at 81; McGavin, who died of natural causes at 83; and Wild, 53, who succumbed to mouth cancer, leave behind a treasure-trove of discs.
The four collectively garnered seven Emmy Awards, including five for Knotts' role as bumbling deputy Barney Fife on the 1960 series “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Weaver earned an Emmy in 1959 for his role as stiff-legged deputy Chester Goode on the venerable series “Gunsmoke.” He was nominated twice but never won for his role in “McCloud” as a New Mexico marshal tracking bad guys in the Big Apple.
“He was a very, very skilled actor,” “Gunsmoke” co-star James Arness told The Los Angeles Times.
McGavin, who played crime reporter Carl Kolchak on the 1970's cult favorite series “The Night Stalker,” never was nominated for the role, instead earning an Emmy playing Candice Bergen's dogmatic father on “Murphy Brown” in 1990.
“Although Darren McGavin had an enormously varied career both on stage and screen, it is obvious he will best be remembered for his role as the unforgettable father in the 1983 perennial holiday favorite A Christmas Story,
and this film will preserve the immortality of his work,” said George Feltenstein, SVP of theatrical catalog marketing at Warner Home Video.
Wild was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role as The Artful Dodger in 1968's Oliver!
His success led him to the lead role in the 1970 children's show “H.R. Pufnstuf,” one of the first television projects from producers Sid and Marty Krofft.
The actors never appeared together on a project, although Knotts did co-star with McGavin in the 1976 comedy No Deposit, No Return
and 1978's Hot Lead & Cold Feet,
both of which are on DVD from Buena Vista Home Entertainment. McGavin appeared on three episodes of “Gunsmoke.” Don Knotts on DVDAnchor Bay Home Entertainment: “Three's Company”Buena Vista Home Entertainment: The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) with Tim Conway; Gus (1976); Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977); The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979); Chicken Little (streets March 21) Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment: “The Andy Griffith Show”Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: Fantasy Island: The Complete First Season (guest star); It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963); the animated Tom Sawyer (2000)Universal Studios Home Entertainment: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), The Reluctant Astronaut (1967), The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968) and The Love God? (1969), available as the Don Knotts Reluctant Hero PackWarner Home Video: The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964); Cannonball Run 2 (1984); Big Bully (1996); the animated Cats Don't Dance (1997) Dennis Weaver on DVDBuena Vista: the animated Home on the Range (2004)Lionsgate Entertainment: the telefilm High Noon (2000)Paramount: Gunsmoke 50th Anniversary Edition Vol. 1 and Vol. 2; The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955)Showtime Entertainment: Escape from Wildcat Canyon (1998)Sony: Duel at Diablo (1966)Universal: “McCloud”; the 1971 TV movie Duel, directed by Steven SpielbergDarren McGavin on DVD20th Century Fox: Guest starring roles in Millennium: The Complete Second Season with Lance Henriksen, and in seasons 5 and 6 of “The X-Files”; Raw Deal (1986) with Arnold Schwarzenegger Anchor Bay: Turk 182! (1985); From the Hip (1987) with Judd Nelson; Dead Heat (1988); Happy Hell Night (1992); Danielle Steel's A Perfect Stranger with Robert Ulrich (1994)Buena Vista: Perfect Harmony (1991)Criterion Collection: Summertime (1955) with Katherine HepburnHart Sharp: The Man With the Golden Arm (1955) with Frank Sinatra Paramount: The Delicate Delinquent (1957) with Jerry LewisRepublic Pictures: The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)Sony: The Martian Chronicles (1980); The Natural (1984) with Robert Redford; a double feature of The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973) Universal: “Kolchak: The Night Stalker”; Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season One (guest star); Airport '77, part of the Airport Terminal Pack; Billy Madison (1995); Magnum P.I.: The Complete Second Season (guest star).Warner: HBO's By Dawn's Early Light (1990); A Christmas Story (1983)Jack Wild on DVDBuena Vista: Basil (1998)Rhino Entertainment: H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete SeriesSony: Oliver! (1968) Warner: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)