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Television in the late 1950s, for those of us who remember it, was
largely black and white and a composite of live shows from New York,
old films from the 1930s and 40s, and filmed series (usually made in
Hollywood) designed for the new medium. Most of the filmed television
series were centered around the folklore of 19th century western
figures or contemporary big city detectives.
In 1959, 20th Century Fox decided to try something different. So, borrowing from the literary works of James Michener, they constructed a series centered around a modern day roving South Pacific sea captain. As luck would have it, a producer happened to spot 6' 5", 200 lb., 27 year old actor Gardner McKay sitting in the studio commissary reading--of all things--a book of poetry.
To help promote the new hour long series on ABC Television, Life Magazine writer Shana Alexander was called in to do a feature story. When she met the star, she changed the whole focus of her story to the new leading man, including a cover photo of McKay in a contemporary Apollo Belvedere pose.
Describing him as a likely candidate for the best looking man in America, she used a centerfold photo of McKay's face as a template for the handsome man, comparing him with former film star glamor boys Robert Taylor, Tyrone Power, Gregory Peck and Rock Hudson.
That magazine layout embarrassed McKay to the point that he once told an interviewer he never even FELT good looking. What was worse was that, despite the fact that he actually had been an experienced sailor, he was a very inhibited and inexperienced actor.
Critics mauled his lack of thespian-ism, but fans loved the guy (especially women). He was unassuming and likable despite his lack of theatrical talent. His acting abilities improved modestly (with much coaching), but 20th Century Fox did little to enhance the series (which was remarkably popular), failing to transfer the South Pacific setting to actual locations and ignoring the color process that had been recently introduced to t.v. audiences. McKay, however, continued to be personally popular--with both male fans of the series and admiring women.
He had done some minor roles in television and films before Paradise and did some after it, appearing on interview shows and doing theater in the round in addition to some primary roles and even one leading role in motion pictures. But the critics (justifiably) continued to ravage his efforts.
Fed up with the whole business, McKay turned down a personal film offer from Marilyn Monroe and left acting forever. He traveled the world, married and settled in Hawaii as a playwright and novelist, where he was very successful until his death in November of 2001 from prostate cancer.
But Adventures in Paradise lives on in the minds of everyone who was a fan. Gardner McKay was part of that fond memory. Perhaps the handsomest man to ever pass through Hollywood's portals, he was perfect as the gentle sea captain chasing a tropic paradise. And each week, he took us along for the trip. It was a great escape from the realities of everyday life and an unforgettable memory.
My call to the producers and owners of the rights of the series: Why not transcript all the episodes in a beautiful DVD box set, before thousands of meters of film are waisted in some remote forgotten draw... Like many of the fans, many young viewers would be delighted to discover what their elders have watched with so much passion in their youth! They would then understand why some of their parents became either sailors, adventurers or travellers, and had their lives changed by watching Captain Troy and his schooner Tiki!
I often wanted to somehow contact Garden McKay for his work in the TV series: Adventures in Paradise. The show, with 'Adam Troy' as the hero/adventurer, started a wanderlust cycle in me that has led to the South Pacific as well as Southeast Asia. The program intro was unique and captivating, the song penetrating (Claire d' Lune by Debussey, and the locations completely fascinating ..... to an idealistic 8th grader at the time. I've tried to track down the modernized videos with no luck. I loved the series as a youth and am sorry that Gardner McKay took himself out of TV and movies way too soon. "Welcome to James A. Michener's Adventures in Paradise, with Gardner McKay as Adam Troy .... sailing the South Seas....
This series enjoyed enormous popularity here in Australia due to its
South Pacific setting. In fact, several Australian actors cropped up in
the cast during the life of the show.
"Adventures" became a favorite of mine during the 1970s when it was being re run in a late afternoon time slot. Of course, these days, we all know that the whole thing was filmed on a back lot at 20th Century Fox in smoggy old L.A but it looked convincing. Gardner McKay was ideal as Captain Adam Troy, master of the romantic Edwardian schooner the 'Tiki' and it was always a pleasant hour of entertainment.
As others have already mentioned, the musical theme was so dreamy and evocative of the South seas. One of my most prized collectibles is a copy of the sheet music with a photo of Captain Troy on the cover standing at the wheel of the "Tiki" which, by the way, was moored in Sydney Harbour for several years as I understand.
I was only eleven when the series debuted, but immediately developed a major crush on "Adam Troy". Yes the music was great. I know I would recognize it if I heard it but couldn't begin to tell you how it goes. Many balmy summer nights as I tried to get to sleep, I would fantasize about living in Tahiti on a white beach with turquoise water lapping at my feet, learning to surf, sailing a catamaran, sailing to exotic locales with "Adam" etc etc. You get the picture. Gardner McKay's life story was unique. Not your typical Hollywood ego maniac hunk. He seems to have been much more interested in the world than in having the world interested in him. Was very sorry to hear of his death in Nov 2001.
One of my first television memories - Born in 1956, my parents watched it faithfully, and I can still remember, as a young lad, being fascinated with faraway places such as shown on this show. The theme is still with me to this day. Perfect music. I wish I could now see the shows today, and see if they bring back more memories.
Before Magnum PI told us about another day in Paradise, James Mitchner
and his Adam Troy lived it for us on the black and white miniature
silver screen in our living room. These episodes were my first taste of
Island adventure that I have feasted on many times since then. The
shows were very adventuresome for the time but they were also exciting
and demanded our attention as we watched.
All my memories of the show are good and I too wish that someone would release the shows in a boxed DVD set for us "real" baby bloomers who watched TV in our very early teen years.
I highly recommend any of the episodes for anyone who thinks McGarret is overkill and wants to see a normal person get in and out of trouble without any special effects creating the explosions we see on current shows.
If only the old TV networks would pick this up or if digital recording was available in the 1950's.
I was 14 years old when I 'fell in love' with Captain Troy. Then I
became enamored with the whole idea of sailing on a schooner while
classical music buoyed our spirits and encouraged us to participate in
fantastic adventures on the South Seas. This early visual escapist
series has always resided in my 'happy childhood memory bank.' While
sailing, one did not have to worry about the mundane life issues such
as bills, taxes, etc.
When I recently visited Hawaii, I managed to sail on a schooner for a couple of days and I fondly remembered this series. .
I know a lot of preservation work is occurring with old movies and TV series as technology improves. If a DVD box set ever comes available, I would be proud to own a set. With all the complications of today's world, a visit to a more innocent time would be happily welcomed.
I was a fan of Adventures in Paradise (AIP) many years ago as a kid. It's nice to find a web site that has some info on it. Kudos to IMDB. I remember little more about this show than a big sailboat, a cute dark-haired girl, and a lot of exciting episodes. Oh, and of course, the theme music, which, by the way, you can download from a link on page 13 of this IMDB site. Many of these old TV shows were not preserved. Wouldn't it be nice if AIP was still available? I don't know if it is or not, but it would be fun to share it with my young ones. It beats much of what's on now. Makes you wonder what our kids will be reminiscing about years from now. Scary... I'm still looking for a site with photos from this series.
The music was haunting. I can almost, just almost, grasp it now. Yes, even
though I was a lot older than the previous commentator, the pull of exotic
places was a good part of the programme's attraction, the desire to be far
away doing anything and being anyone than where and what I was. However,
some reason I saw nothing of the last season.
ADVENTURES IN PARADISE held itself out to be a product of James A. Mitchener before I knew who he was, although Mitchener was already famous as the author of HAWAII which was published in 1959. The title came from his early work, but I cannot recall if he had anything substantive to do with the programme, but probably not given the notes on this web site.
This might be a mix-up with another series, but I think the first time any television episode was set in South Viet Nam was an ADVENTURES IN PARADISE number. One does recall, however, the knock-about Captain Troy was all over and a part of me wanted to be there under palms leaning with the night wind.
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