Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, December 7, 2001

Celebs show up for
McKay memorial

By Tim Ryan

"Memories of Gardner McKay," the memorial service for the reluctant television star turned author, will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at Diamond Head Theatre.

McKay, 69, died Nov. 24 in at his Koko Head home after a long battle with prostate cancer.

The two-hour tribute will include friends and acquaintances reading from McKay's works, including short stories, poems and novels.

Director-actor Terrence Knapp will read McKay's "The Hawk," and renowned author Paul Theroux will read "Never Get Famous for the Wrong Reason."

An excerpt from McKay's book "Journey Without a Map" will be played from one of the last recordings he made. Madeleine McKay, the actor's widow, is scheduled to read the poem "To Madeleine."

Jimmy Buffett's recording of "We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About," that contains a verse about McKay -- "Hey hey, Gardner McKay, take us on the leaky Tiki with you / Clear skies bound for Shanghai, sailin' on the ocean blue" -- will be played.

Buffett and McKay became friends several years ago after being introduced by promoter Tom Moffatt. Buffett described McKay as "a wonderful dreamer and storyteller."

"Gardner ... lived the life few people ever dream of and he knew how lucky he was," Buffett said. "He was quite an inspiration to me.

"People like Gardner know they are larger than life and get the most out of it, but somehow find a way to control that amazing sense of power in the most human ways. I am simply glad that in my life, I was able to call Gardner McKay my friend."

Longtime McKay friend Don Ho will sing Kui Lee's "I'll Remember You." Michael Titterton, Hawaii Public Radio's executive director, will emcee the occasion.

McKay made the cover of Life when he starred for three years as Adam Troy, skipper of the schooner Tiki, in the television series "Adventures in Paradise." The show was co-produced by Dominick Dunne, who discovered McKay, a former model, in a Hollywood coffee shop.

When the TV show ended in 1962, McKay turned his back on fame and made his way to the Amazon rain forest, where he worked for two years as an agronomist.

He returned to the United States after stays in France and Egypt and began a career as a writer in New York. He wrote several Broadway plays, including "Sea Marks," and a number of novels, including the thriller "Toyer."

From 1977-82, he was the drama critic for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

Originally intending to be a sculptor, the Manhattan-born and New York/Paris-raised McKay was offered modeling work until he was discovered by Dunne.

In addtion to Madeleine McKay, he is survived by a son, daughter, granddaughter and brother.

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