McGee actor

over the years I have wondered who could have played Travis in a movie. The only one I could think of was Sterling Hayden–not the later Hayden of Dr. Strangelove, but the younger Hayden of the 1940’s. I don’t know how much you know of him, but he joined the OSS in ‘”WW2 under the name of Hamilton and parachuted behind the line into Yugoslav territory where he helped the resistance. In his book, Wanderer, published in 1963, he says this:

Sterling Hayden

From his autobiography, Wanderer, published in 1963.

* To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… cruising, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. “I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone. What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

Hayden could have been a sort of archetype for Travis McGee, and at 6’5″ , with his sea-faring background, would have lent an air of legitimacy few–if any-actors could.

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3 Responses to “McGee actor”

  1. stacylormella Says:

    If you want to see Sterling Hayden in a great movie, see Suspicion which was made in 1941. With Frank Sinatra as the heavy (go figure, tho Sinatra was Italian, but thin). I always thought of McGee as a seagoing version of Sean Connery myself.

    I have begun re-reading my McGee books and they are great. I’m starting with ‘The Lonely Silver Rain’. His writing is great.

    I have never lived nor visited Florida, but have always loved either Florida or California as a setting for murder mysteries. Of course I love Sue Grafton and Earle Stanley Gardner, too. I do live in California now, have lived her most my life, but I have this fascination with Florida too. As a result of that I love Carl Hiassen too.

  2. Marla Says:

    I was shocked with the casting of DiCaprio. He seems a very unlikely choice – too delicate looking, too young looking. But then sometimes actors do surprisingly well with a challenging role.

    I don’t know Sterling Hayden, so have no opinion of him. There are few actors of 6’5″, so I could accept a shorter man as long as he was reasonably tall and athletic. I could overlook hair and eye color for the right actor, too. It’s the personality of McGee that is so critical.

    McGee has that ironic humor and sense of the absurd that Jim Rockford and Magnum PI showed – but he is tougher, smarter, quicker, and more dangerous than those guys.

    Somewhere or other I heard that Harrison Ford was interested in the role, a decade or so ago. He might have been a reasonable choice. His roles are usually either deadly serious or self-consciously goofy, and McGee is somewhere in-between. With the right director he might have pulled it off.

    I could see Paul Newman, back in the day. Steve McQueen? James Coburn? For contemporary actors, I’m stumped. Russell Crowe? Could George Clooney manage it? Brad Pitt comes to mind, but… nah.

    Maybe that’s why I’ll let DiCaprio have a shot – I can’t think of anyone really suitable anyway. Two things I’m dying to know: will the film be set in present times, or in 1964? (I’m hoping for 1964). And who will play Meyer if there is a series of movies?

    (not sure if I posted this comment twice; I accidentally navigate away from the page in the middle of typing. If so, apologies)

  3. Earl Says:

    I had read most of the McGee books by the time I read Wanderer.
    Before I finished Wanderer I got to thinking that John might have had Sterling in mind when he conjured-up McGee.

    I think the late Robert Shaw, (Capt. Quint in Jaws), could have played the part.

    DiCaprio is a stretch for the role, but his name will sell tickets. Hope they don’t butcher the story.

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