Anecdotes, Words & Quotes

- You met Gardner McKay
- Anecdotes
- What some people said of Gardner McKay
- What he said of himself

You met Gardner Mc Kay - Write us your story...

This is a new column, which I hope - with your contribution - will grow into a large new specific page.

If you have met Gardner McKay, here you can leave some words to tell your story.
Tell us when, how, in what circumstances you have met him.
Tell us your feelings then and what are they now.
Your words will leave an interesting trace as a testimony of your past for the pleasure of today's viewers, who would like to know more about the man behind the actor.

Please feel free to send your genuine story to my email: micreb @ and I will issue same on this website for the benefit of all us fans.

Here is a story - It comes from Jem, a lady living today in Florida. She met Gardner while studying at the Art Students League in New York City in '55.

" A Brief Affair - It was so long ago. With some quick math, I figured it was half a century ago. He must have been about twenty-three years old, and although I was a bit older, I hadn’t been aware of the age difference at the time..." (Read the full story).


For those who like to read ... and want to know more about Gardner McKay, I gathered here a few quotes and phrases ramdomly from newspaper articles which - to my opinion - will give you another light on his personality. (Again, forgive my poor english).

A sailor... a very young sailor.
Gardner's McKay fascination for sailing started very young as we learn that, when living in Southport, Connecticut, at two years old, he once dragged a bushel basket with wired handles down the pier, launched it and climbed aboard. It was not long before the basket was half full with water, when an old man nearby, John Doxy, spotted him and saved him by the seat of his pants!

A fan she ... was.
In the 60's, when Gardner McKay was in stardom. One of the movie magazines had issued an article about him and on what he wanted in a wife. So, one night around 2:00 AM, some unknown woman called him up and informed him that she had all the qualifications he was looking for in a wife. She was the one for him. Naturally, he was none too pleased at being awakened at such an hour. He replied to her that he had one more qualification for a potential wife that was not mentioned in the magazine; that any lady he would even consider must have an alarm clock and know how to use it!
Well, that must have dashed any hopes she had of even meeting him, ever. (Thanks to Ashley for this story)

Gardner to court.
In 1961, like today, there were many young girls who tried to haul a star to court for paternity. It also happened to Gardner McKay. A 23 year-old cocktail waitress named Patrice Franz (picture right) has dragged the movie star to court claiming he was the father of her 18 month-old daughter. Mckay denied the paternity but admitted that he had once been involved romantically with her. It was revealed that mrs. Franz was still a married woman but living seperate from her husband. The court could not find any similarity between the actor's features and the baby's (No DNA tests existed in those days). Finally the court declared Gardner McKay was innocent. Unfortunately, in contrast to the charges, the newspapers have buried the verdict in small print on their back pages, which hurted him for his friends and relations.

Marylin's last movie.
At the end of the third season, McKay wanted to end his own career as an actor and decided to get out of his Fox contract. The next day, he received a phone call from the great Hollywood movie director, George Cuckor, who was near to start with Marylin Monroe the shooting of "Something's Got To Give", which would have been her last last film. Cuckor asked Mckay if he could be Marylin's co-star in his new film. It would have been any actor's dream to play with such a famous actress and directed by one the world's best film maker. But this offer just came one day too late. Gardner has already made his choice. He declined the offer. Cuckor was stunned. He had declared "How dare? He can't even walk!" Marylin was just as surprised. One evening, she rang him up to try to change his mind. The conversation turned to rather romantic. "She is so charming over the phone, so attractive, so charming in a way" said Gardner later. But he flatly refused.

FBI agents at the front-door.
In 1999, Gardner McKay nearly went to prison for "threats" against the US past president Bill Clinton. A joke which could have been very serious: he wrote an article in a local Hawaian newspaper, in which he mentionned the words "kill him" when talking about the american president at the time. These words taken out of the satirical context wanted by the writer, did not amuse the U.S. secret service. One monday morning, a few agents knoked at his door. After about two hours of explanations, the FBI agents left the premises, satisfied that McKay had no bad intentions against the president life: " I did something was a careless thing to do... I learnt the lesson... I broke the law, so if the need arises, I'll write about the president with greater caution in the future". However, Gardner McKay took the incident with good humour: "There's something funny and my effort is to find it", and he added: "The best release for anger is humor".

Gardner admired greatly Clinton for his brilliance and voted for him. This story was a satirical piece against the absurdity of the impeachment fiasco.

What some people said about Gardner McKay

Robert Florey, one of the directors of the series, a frenchman, tells that " if McKay had been around in the silent days, on his looks alone he'd have been a sensation, another Douglas Fairbanks."

Jerry Wald, a movie producer who was thinking of hiring him for a new picture, declared that "McKay has qualities of Gable, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper - rolled into one. Never mind the acting. You can't be Brando the first time at bat. McKay was wooden. So was Gable. But Gable improved over the years. And TV speeds up the process. What really matters about McKay is that he has what by definition makes a star - inner illumination".

Roy Huggins, head of Fox TV in those days, saw in him a "Henry Fonda aura of virility and gentleness". He added: "The word for Gardner is oblique"..."His life style is ambiguity. He's the Faulkner of actors. You can't help liking the big kid but figuring out what Gardner is saying is like trying to get a firm grip on whipped cream."

Dominick Dunne, main producers of the TV series has said that "there was that remoteness and mystery about him that real stars have, and, for the brief time that it lasted, he was a star". (...) " He knew how to wave to he screaming throngs better than anyone else I ever knew, and his handsome face got even handsomer with every rush of admiration he received."

Once described by a girlfriend: "Highstrung, intelligent, sensitive. He careens between moods of wild exuberance and withdrawn silence". He also "tries hard to make a good impression and he seems to be striving at all times to be totally sincere and honest".

What Gardner McKay said of himself...

Acting and Stardom

During the take over of 3 rd season shooting, between two scenes, McKay took a detached at himself and his profession and said" Acting has helped me - tap some emotions, some reactions... but, man, who can say I love you in front of a camera?"

A propos de son refus de continuer une carrière d’acteur, il disait plus tard: “Je n’était pas un acteur. Je n’ai jamais mis ‘acteur’ comme profession sur mon passeport . Cela a été une expérience fascinante. Vous connaissez l’étreinte de la célébrité. J’ai eu ce moment à Paris, ce moment à la Presley, lorsqu’on dit: C’est lui ! (en français dans le texte) “.

“I'm not a real actor. Show me a two-page speech from Antigone, and I'd be sick... But thanks to acting I'm not as locked up or guarded as I once was... I used to be - sometimes now I was popular but mostly - it was rough, I was a loner. The story of my life is - I was always The New Boy".

"Hollywood actors are jealous of nothing, except other actors. I never liked the word "actor". I did not manage to accept it. When I wrote plays, I had opportunity to love actors, but not to be one. I love dogs, but not to be one..."

"It's not I was too good for Hollywood, only it was too bad for me. Hollywood wanted: - Change or fail - . I'll do neither."

Looking back...
Talking of his young years, he said " Father's death shaped me up a lot. Before I was pretty silly in many ways, a sort of prankster. Suddenly I turned serious, even a little gloomy".

Years later, when the TV series has ended and about his decision to stop: "At the time, I knew I was committing suicide"... "I split. I was exhausted, I didn't need carloads of people asking for my authograph. I was living in a dream world".

"True greatness in art is brought about by hard work and accident".

In 1973, after the premiere of "Me" in Los Angeles, a journalist reports the following phrase from McKay : "They (the critics) are not greeting me for having wrote the play, but to have directed it. This town respects always more the performer than the creator".


On the very first day of the shooting of the first season, the sound engineer reported he was extremely surprised to see Gardner Mckay come on the set and presented himself to all the staff; and that he called him by his name the next day. For the technician, it was the first time in thirty one years of trade an actor was behaving like that. It was an example amongst others, of Gardner McKay's kindness and consideration towards all.

While interviewing Gardner McKay, journalist Mike Wallace asked him: " In the Life Magazine (july 1959), you were compared as a new Apollo. How did you feel?" - "I'm not greek!", replied McKay shruggingly. It casted a chill and stopped suddenly the journalist's impulse!

There are more to come...

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