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For a generation of baby boomers who came of age (think 12 or 13), 1959 and 1960 were banner years for heart throbs and adventures. Think the Bonanza Brothers, George Maharis of Route 66 and Gardner McKay of Adventures in Paradise. For three years Gardner appeared as Captain Adam Troy as he sailed his schooner, the Tiki, around the South Pacific.
Writer Dominic Dunne recognized Gardner’s 6’5” stunning appeal for this part when he first saw him in the commissary and invited him to audition for the part. Gardner was also an expert with boats, as his grandfather was a ship builder and Gardner had been sailing for years.
Gardner McKay’s appeal was so strong that he appeared on the cover of Life Magazine in July 1959, a full 3 months before Adventures in Paradise even debuted. He was called the new Adonis.
Sadly, the critics tore into Gardner’s talent for acting. The fans, however, adored him.
In 1962 he quit the part of Captain Adam Troy and he also quit acting. Marilyn Monroe had even offered him a role in her now unfinished last movie, Something’s Got to Give. He simply turned the role down. He traveled the world and later became a writer and director. He had come full circle. He was once quoted as saying that when he acted, he felt like he had opened the wrong envelope. His death, at 69, was untimely but he left a strong body of work. His novel, “Toyer,” was wonderful and was even reviewed by the one and only Dominic Dunne. Gardner left many wonderful memories to those who loved him and admired his work through the years.