“A writer named Jeff Rice died in Las Vegas on July 1. He was 71. And, to borrow the line from Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman,’ ‘attention must be paid.’”
Rice wrote a book called “The Kolchak Papers.” Writes Dawidziak, Rice “finished the novel, appropriately enough, on Oct. 31, 1970 – about midnight. Less than 10 months later, his book had been sold to ABC and cameras were rolling in Las Vegas for location filming on [the TV movie] ‘The Night Stalker.’”
The column also says, “It starred Darren McGavin (later the [father] in ‘A Christmas Story’) as Carl Kolchak, a hard-nosed reporter who realizes that a Las Vegas serial killer is a real-life vampire.”
Dawidziak adds, “Who watched ‘The Night Stalker’ when it aired more than 43 years ago? Well, it set the viewing record for TV movies, winning a 33.2 rating (percentage of all TV homes) and a whopping 54 share (percentage of sets actually in use when it aired). And this was at a time when ABC was a distant third-place network.” Eventually, in 1974, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” starring McGavin, became a one-season series on ABC .
Dawidziak then connects the dots for us: “A youngster named Chris Carter was following the career of Carl Kolchak in the early ’70s, and, 20 years later, he would tell anyone who would listen that he created ‘The X-Files’ because the ‘The Night Stalker’ had so wonderfully terrified him as a kid.”
The column adds that “Without ‘The X-Files’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ you don’t get ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Supernatural.’” And so on.
Dawidziak says that “Hollywood took what Jeff Rice had created and cast him aside. So he died in obscurity, remembered only by a small but extremely ardent group of fans dedicated to something called ‘The Night Stalker.’”
To read more about Jeff Rice we urge you to click here, which will take you to Dawidziak’s original column. You may also want to check out the piece about Rice written in the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month, 10 days after he died, which, among other things, talks about the alleged mob connections Rice’s dad had.