Many know the author of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Michelle McNamara, for her passion for true crime stories, her writing style that spoke gently and empathetically about victims and especially, her hunt for the Golden State Killer. What people may not know, however, is that McNamara was married to famous comedian Patton Oswalt at the time of her tragic death at age 46.
McNamara died in her sleep on April 21, 2016, due to the effects of multiple drugs in her system paired with a previously-unknown heart condition causing blocked arteries. She left behind her husband of 11 years and their young daughter, Alice.
The Two Met in 2003 & Tied the Knot Two Years Later
Shortly after McNamara’s death, Oswalt opened up about how they met, saying he felt almost immediately that she was the one for him. He told People he first met her on May 20, 2003, at club Largo in Los Angeles, after one of his sets. He said he wasn’t very well known as a comedian back then.
“During my routine, I admitted to my weakness for Irish women, how they were my Kryptonite,” he explained. “And after the show she was walking out with the crowd and she touched my left arm and said, ‘Irish girls, nice!’” He said, “I was so stunned by how beautiful she was that I let her walk away.” His friend convinced him to run after her and give her his number, he explained. Oswalt added:
It was love pretty much immediately for me. I think it took a few months for her. But it must’ve turned to love pretty solidly because by September she’d moved in with me. She took a leap on my behalf for which I’m forever grateful.
The couple married two years later, on September 24, 2005. Their daughter Alice was born four years later, on April 15, 2009.
Oswalt Has Been Very Outspoken About McNamara’s Passing & Raising Their Daughter
In the months and years following his wife’s death, Oswalt shared the difficulty of life without McNamara and his struggles raising Alice. He wrote an emotional essay in GQ on December 2, 2016, in which he said:
This is my first time being a single father. I’ve missed forms for school. I’ve forgotten to stock the fridge with food she likes. I’ve run out of socks for her. I’ve run out of socks for me. It sucked and it was a hassle every time, but the world kept turning. I said, ‘Whoops, my bad,’ and fixed it and kept stumbling forward.
He continued, writing: “I’m going to keep going forward, looking stupid and clumsy and inexperienced at first, then eventually getting it, until the next jolt comes, and the next floor drops out from under me, until there are no more floors.”
On April 14, 2020, Oswalt posted a tribute to his wife on what would have been her 50th birthday:
He wrote, “Happy 50th, Michelle. I hope wherever you are there’s good coffee, a strong WiFi connection, and endless mysteries for you to crack.”
He also told The New York Times in October 2016 that he and his daughter Alice had a ritual since McNamara’s death. Each night, the two would sit together and write down three things they remembered about the late McNamara. Oswalt’s brother Matt told the publication, “[Alice] has probably helped Patton as much as Patton helped her. I saw him the first time he saw Alice after Michelle died, and the color just came back into his face.”