Darren McGavin's bad toupée was an essential part of Kolchak

Things were pretty hairy on the set of Kolchak.

NBC/Universal

Television shows come and go, but bad toupées are forever. It seems that in television of decades past, a toupée was almost as important as the actor wearing it. Think of Rob Reiner, who donned a toupée for All in the Family, or Carl Reiner, whose character's toupée on The Dick Van Dyke Show became the source of an insurmountable amount of comedy. While a toupée isn't commonplace in every quality television show, they can say a lot more about a character than you might think.

There's no other way to say it: Darren McGavin's Kolchak was frumpy. However, this isn't an insult; in fact, many viewers gravitated toward the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker precisely because of Kolchak's disheveled appearance. He was a character that went against the grain of what we expected the traditional investigator to be. While many detectives were poised and sophisticated, Kolchak was always in disarray, always flying by the seat of his pants, and his escapades were that much more entertaining because of it.

In an interview with The Boston Globe, Darren McGavin revealed that he had a hefty say in the appearance of a character like Kolchak.

"At first they wanted me to wear Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts," McGavin said. "But I said that makes no sense to me and wouldn't do it."

McGavin knew that clothes can tell a lot about a person, and wanted Kolchak's outfits to tell the story of a down-on-his-luck investigator more focused on the story than his own well-being.

"I think the 1955 attire I appear in is more to the point. The guy hasn't bought any clothes since, because he hasn't been able to work steady, and he is always on the verge of being fired."

As for the toupée, McGavin also felt that it was a necessary piece of the character. Moreover, it wasn't the first time the actor had worn a toupée. "I have worn a variety of hair pieces in my various roles, as well as in real life," he said, "because I think it is so important in appearance."

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7 Comments

Runeshaper 15 days ago
Definitely adds to the character's character (-:
The_Great_Gazoo 15 days ago
They should have done an episode where Kolchak’s hairpiece becomes possessed by a demon. Then there would be hell toupee.
Or maybe anyone who wears the hairs turns into a zombie and goes on a mass killing spree. Only Kolchak knows the real truth and has to put a stop to this madness. I'd watch that.
"Amazing Stories" (1986) Season 1 Episode 21
Now that there is funny
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