Gardner McKay on the cover of TV Week, 1959
|Born||George Cadogan Gardner McKay
June 10, 1932
New York City, U.S.
|Died||November 21, 2001 (aged 69)
Hawaii Kai, Hawaii, U.S.
|Height||6 ft 5-in (1.96 m)|
George Cadogan Gardner McKay (June 10, 1932 – November 21, 2001) was an American actor, artist, and author.
Born in New York City, McKay was the great-grandson of the shipbuilder Donald McKay. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York for two years, where he majored in art. He became a Hollywood heartthrob in the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for the lead role in the TV series Adventures in Paradise, based loosely on the writings of James Michener. His character, Adam Troy, is a Korean War veteran who purchased the two-masted 82-foot (25 m) schooner Tiki III, and sailed the South Pacific. The show ran for three seasons on American ABC, from 1959 until 1962, for a total of 91 episodes.
McKay was under contract to MGM when he was spotted by Dominick Dunne, then a television producer for Twentieth Century Fox, who was searching for an actor to star in his planned Adventures in Paradise. Dunne put his business card on the table and said, "If you're interested in discussing a television series, call me." McKay competed in screen tests with nine other candidates, and won it because of his good looks and ability to sail. An accomplished sailor, he had made eight Atlantic crossings by the age of seventeen. Although previously unknown to the public, McKay appeared on the July 6, 1959, cover of Life Magazine just two months before the series premiered.
In the 1957–1958 season, McKay had played United States Army Lieutenant Dan Kelly in the 38-episode syndicated western series, Boots and Saddles, with co-stars Jack Pickard and Patrick McVey. Thereafter, he was cast in the episode "Showdown" of the NBC western, Jefferson Drum, with Jeff Richards.
McKay left Hollywood to pursue his interest in photography, sculpture, and writing. He turned down the opportunity to star opposite Marilyn Monroe in Something's Got to Give, a film which was never completed. He exhibited his sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, besides holding individual exhibitions. His lifeboat rescue photographs of the Andrea Doria were published internationally. McKay wrote many plays and novels, and was a literary critic for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner between 1977 and 1982. He taught writing classes at the University of California at Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of Alaska, and the University of Hawaii. In 2014 his play Sea Marks was produced Off-Broadway at the Irish Repertory Theatre.
McKay's awards included three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships for playwriting, the Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, and Sidney Carrington Prize. He was a winner in Canadian Regional Drama Festival, and runner-up in the Hemingway Short Story Contest.
McKay settled in Hawaii, where he died from prostate cancer in 2001, at the age of sixty-nine. He was survived by his wife, Madeleine Madigan, a painter, and two children.
- Video on YouTube
- Sullivan, John (November 24, 2001). "Gardner McKay, 69, TV Heartthrob Who Turned to Writing". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- "Boots and Saddles". Classic TV Archivers. Retrieved September 12, 2009.