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Adventures in Paradise (60s TV series)

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Ia orana,

What happened to the very popular 60s TV series, "Adventures in Paradise" starring Gardner Mackay (who died lately) as Captain Adam Troy? I think this TV show, along with others, greatly contributed to the development & passion of Polynesia Americana. How come it's so difficult to find info, even on the web, about this part of US Tiki pop culture?

Just asking

Because just like Hawaiian Eye, it never went into rerun syndication, so nobody remembers those series, unlike Hawaii 5-0, which is a POST-Tiki series (sorry, kids...but yes, it is still cool).
I had a chapter on Tiki-TV (and one on Exotica) at the end of the Book of Tiki, but they got lopped of for lack of space. Here's an excerpt:
"...But “Hawaiian Eye” was not the only Tiki show on the air: James A. Michener's "Adventures in Paradise" (1959-'62) featured Gardner McKay as Captain Adam Troy, who in his schooner the "TIKI" traveled the South Seas, having a different adventure on a different island, meeting a different woman in each episode. The "TIKI" had a cool grinning Tiki as it's figurehead, and Adam Troy was the first T.V. hero to wear a Tiki necklace, which undoubtedly had an influence on many impressionable teenagers..."


That explains it, thanx for your help BigBroTiki. In my quest for info about this cult TV series, I discovered that Cptn Troy's boat, the TIKI, has been completely restored and is now charter sailing off the Fiji islands. It's nice to know her sailing once again and just to imagine Adam & his native island crew sailing off into one of those fabulous Pacific sunsets.



You lucky folks who live in the LA area can go to the UCLA Film and Television archive and see this and other tiki shows. Somebody go and bring a digital video camera so we can all see it... http://www.cinema.ucla.edu/

[ Edited by: kahukini on 2002-05-17 19:49 ]


I keep hoping this will be put out on DVD some day. I haven't yet seen a minute of it, though I have the LP based on it. By the way, this may be something for which tikiphiles and Jimmy Buffett have a fondness in common, for he has written about how AIP is what first gave him the sailing/islands bug, and wrote these lyrics in one of his songs:
Hey hey, Gardner McKay
Take us on the Leaky Tiki with you
Clear skies, bound for Shanghai
Sailing 'cross the ocean blue.

There is apparently a book just now coming out on the show:
http://www.classictvseriesbooks.com/paradise.html , though I'd rather watch it than read about it at this point.

Granite Tiki.....that site says "all 64 known episodes" but there were 91 episodes made. I wish AIP and Hawaiian Eye would see a quality DVD release. In the movie "The Right Approach" one of the "actors" gets a part on the series and they show part of the set with Gardner McKay. When Lyle (Aloha Jhoe's) Wheeler was the set designer for part of the series, he used one of the Tikis left from the 1951 movie "Bird Of Paradise. The same Tiki is also seen in the 1953 film "White Witch Doctor", one of many "African" movies with South Seas props.

Ha...funny to read my old posts from 2002...one even pertaining to a recent discussion here on TC :D
I am glad I got a double page on this show (and on H.E.) into "Tiki Modern", to cement their importance in Tiki culture.
And now I finally "get" the "Leaky Tiki" reference....it's all Jimmy's fault, again!

Here is a U-Tube clip that shows the full Marquesan Tiki figurehead of "The Tiki":


Gardner McKay wore a miniature version of the figurehead Tiki around his neck:

And this is a good sequence (with multiple mentions of "The Tiki") guest starring "Bewitched''s Dick York:


Some additional info:
James Michener dropped out right at the beginning of the series and has no affiliation with its scripts other than the title.

The pier with the schooner (and the village) were a set on the 20th Century Fox Studio back lot, where most of the series was filmed. Can anybody here post the sound track album cover, with the set on it? The title song became a major Exotica hit covered by countless artists.

Tahitian pin-up photographer SYLVAIN shot some of the stock footage of the real Tahiti for the show.

Sorry ladies, handsome hunk McKay ...was gay.

I really wish I could see this, his last caper, it must have my all time favorite South Sea movie TITLE:


Incredibly bad by most standards, "I Sailed to Tahiti With An All-Girl Crew" is enormously enjoyable if you're in the right retro mood. The film was probably the main factor in Gardner McKay abandoning his acting career and turning to writing.

On 2009-01-30 13:32, bigbrotiki wrote:
The pier with the schooner (and the village) were a set on the 20th Century Fox Studio back lot, where most of the series was filmed. Can anybody here post the sound track album cover, with the set on it? The title song became a major Exotica hit covered by countless artists.

This is one of two albums associated with the show. This one has the Tiki on the cover.

The show is now available on DVD. I think there are three volumes with 24 discs.


Thanks, great! Another Polynesian paradise made in L.A.! :)


There's a few clips from Adventures in Paradise posted on YouTube.

Anyone else find it suspicious that Adventures in Paradise ran from '59 to '62 and the Travis McGee books started coming out in '63-'64? The main character is a 6' 4" lanky, tough Korean war vet boat bum who adventures across the globe, often on his trust floating fortress. He lives in Florida instead of Tahiti, but still, the similarities are enough for me to wonder whether MacDonald got the inspiration for McGee from Adam Troy.


It may be available on DVD, but as bongofury said, there are many episodes missing. And here are some not-so-positive reviews of the set on Amazon:

... Many of the episodes are repeated on multiple discs. There are actually only 51 unique episodes in the three volumes I received.

... 2-3 of the episodes were unwatchable

... the picture quaility is lacking

So buyer beware.

On 2009-02-03 07:34, Rev. Griz wrote:
Anyone else find it suspicious that Adventures in Paradise ran from '59 to '62 and the Travis McGee books started coming out in '63-'64? The main character is a 6' 4" lanky, tough Korean war vet boat bum who adventures across the globe, often on his trust floating fortress. He lives in Florida instead of Tahiti, but still, the similarities are enough for me to wonder whether MacDonald got the inspiration for McGee from Adam Troy.

I am not, and I don't believe many others here are familiar with said book series, do you have any cover art to post?

Maybe BOTH characters were inspired by this gentleman?:

On 2008-03-07 13:09, bigbrotiki wrote:

The film seems to have had a lot in common with Sterling Hayden's life:

"Born March 26, 1916, in Montclair, NJ, he quit school at the age of 16 to become a mate on a schooner, beginning a lifelong love affair with the sea; indeed, it was often suggested that he was never particularly enamored of the acting life, instead preferring to sail. By age 22, Hayden was a ship's captain, but a desire to buy his own boat prompted him to begin modeling, and in 1940 he landed a movie contract at Paramount. With no previous acting experience, he starred in 1941's Virginia, followed a year later by Bahama Passage. The pictures' successes made him a star, and he also grabbed headlines by marrying actress Madeleine Carroll."

"Sterling Hayden was a dory fisherman in the Grand Banks as a teenager; captained a two masted brig from Boston to Tahiti at age 22; he then became one of the youngest Master Mariners at age 24; sailed around the world twice; sailed to Tahiti several times..."

Sounds like HE was the original "Captain Adam Troy" from "Adventures in Paradise"!



And forgive me, but JB sings of him too ("Incommunicado," 1980):
Travis McGee's still in Cedar Key
That's what ol' John MacDonald said...

Ha ha, s'okay. But a HOUSE BOAT? That doesn't sound like "Adventures", but "Surfside Six" could have been the inspiration. Though that show's clean cut teen stars really weren't the type:


And anyway, there is that whole 20th century drop-out culture of the "Boat People", those happy folk that realized their dream to shoot the breeze and live on their sailboats and dock in another port every couple of months, that could have been mined for these shows and books --just like Jimmy Buffet did for his pop world.


I recently got the DVD box set recommended (and, alternatively, criticized) above. It's good so far but I have encountered some parts that are pretty much unwatchable, as is mentioned above. I am thinking of contacting the seller as some of the problems seem to regard the discs, not necessarily the source material. Anyway, most of it appears fine and it is a good show (most of the time!).

You know when a number of your key interests seem to suddenly come together in one object or experience or story, and it seems ... I don't know, kind of "affirming," I guess you could say? Not sure I'm explaining it well, but that's how I felt when I read this ( http://archives.starbulletin.com/2001/12/07/features/story9.html ):
Celebs show up for McKay memorial
By Tim Ryan, Friday, December 7, 2001

"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.
Paul Theroux has been my favorite author for years. "I'll remember you" is, I suppose, my favorite song. Don Ho and Jimmy Buffett? Yeah, I like 'em both. Let's see (since I'm already being self-referential here...): I'm a big public radio fan and think it's grand that Gardner rounded out his years with Hawaii Public Radio. Paul Theroux once wrote of sea kayaking in Hawaii while listening to HPR on the walkman, an image I remember well and would love to enact myself. He also had a character in one of his short stories, I think in "Hotel Honolulu," say of Jimmy Buffett, "I hate him." I wondered if he was speaking through her. Though it's a funny thought, I think I hope not. But I digress. I like the "Adventures..." DVDs despite the flaws, and based on them, and the above, I like Gardner McKay.

How nice to find Gardner McKay was not forgotten, and still appreciated by so many good folks in his later years. And I guess he was not gay, or at least not exclusively, I can't remember for the life of me where I picked up that bit of info now. He sure was a hunk, and appreciated by both sexes, here he is with one of the many South sea sirens that acted in the series, Linda Lawson:

And here he is polishing his Tiki:

And the main exterior set:

Polynesia made in Hollywood :) I just recently listened to the Santo & Johnny version of "Adventures in Paradise" again -a classic!

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2009-04-01 10:05 ]

Thanks for the follow-up post Thomas, it was a great read.

BigBro, that Santo and Johnny record is in heavy rotation on my turntable, outstanding!


DVDs are available for all 3 seasons from theclassictheatre.com

Found this photo the the Gardner McKay and "mini" Tiki boat replica that was used on the show.

Gives you a perspective on the set size.

This seems to a different replica than the one posted before that indicated it did not have sails.

You can also see some big turbines in the background, must have been used for wind effects.


Just an idle thought, but with WW II 3/4 of a century behind us, a revival of Adventures In Paradise or something similar set in the days immediately preceding WW II might be "kitchy" enough to be at least miniseries subject matter....

You mean something similar to?...


I grabbed this image of Gardner McKay at a Tiki Bar!

Note the killer PNG mask on the back wall. Not sure what episode it was from.


Cool pic, and it's good to re-read his obituary posted by Thomas. What a guy!

Another look at the beautiful Linda Lawson from the show

Gardner was a lucky man.


Linda Lawson was also a fine singer.

I just picked up this old publicity photo of Anna Kashfi on the set of Adventures in Pardise. She is sitting on a cool looking outrigger and the Tiki is at dock on the set behind her.

The photo was taken shortly after her divorce from Marlon Brando.


Another photo shot from Adventures in Paradise. Visiting the Island Store from the Pit of Silence episode.


At the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys, CA.

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