Darren McGavin (born William Lyle Richardson; May 7, 1922 – February 25, 2006) was an American actor.
McGavin began his career working as a set painter for Columbia Pictures. In 1954, he originated roles in Broadway productions of My Three Angels and The Rainmaker, followed by roles in David Lean's Summertime and Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm (both 1955).
On television, McGavin portrayed the title character in Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (1958–1959), as well as starred in Riverboat (1959–1961) and Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974–1975). For his recurring role on the sitcom Murphy Brown, he received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
His film credits include Airport '77 (1977), Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978), A Christmas Story (1983), Happy Hell Night (1992), and Billy Madison (1995).
William Lyle Richardson was born in Spokane, Washington, the only child of Grace (née Bogart) Watson and Reed D. Richardson. His parents divorced when he was 11 years old, and custody was given to his father, who was employed as a traveling salesman for a chemical company. When William was an adolescent, his father boarded him with a family at their farm on Puget Sound near Tacoma while he traveled for work. McGavin eventually ran away from the farm, and lived with a Native American family along the Nisqually River. His father was soon notified that he had fled, and McGavin temporarily dodged police and welfare workers before his father enrolled him in a Catholic boarding school.
Around age 16, McGavin left the boarding school and temporarily lived as a runaway under the wharf in San Francisco, before moving in with his mother and stepfather at their ranch in Southern California. While attending high school in California, McGavin developed aspirations to be an architect, and after graduating enrolled at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California to study architecture. He later studied theatre at the HB Studio in New York City. McGavin was rejected for military service during World War II because of bad knees.