Rod Taylor and Sam Elliot played Travis in Darker Than Amber and The Empty Copper Sea.  Neither actor succeeded.


For one reason Travis is 6’4”, and having a shorter actor just does not make it . ( As this is being written there is a strong rumor that Leonardo DiCaprio will be filming a Travis story.  But rumors like this surface every couple of years it seems.  Don't pop the corn just yet.

If he were alive and at a right age Sterling Hayden would have fit the bill perfectly.  He was 6’5” and had a strong sailing background, and a look at early Hollywood "stills" of him showed he had the looks as well.

Read Hayden's book: The Wanderer and you know what the water meant to him.  Very much JDM and Travis.

Oh yeah, one more thing: (from Wikipedia)  

 Hayden, as OSS agent John Hamilton:  his World War II service included running guns through German lines to the Yugoslav partisans and parachuting into fascist Croatia. Hayden, who also participated in the Naples-Foggia campaign and established air crew rescue teams in enemy-occupied territory, became a first lieutenant on September 13, 1944, and a captain on February 14, 1945. He won the Silver Star (for gallantry in action in the Balkans and Mediterranean; "Lt. Hamilton displayed great courage in making hazardous sea voyages in enemy-infested waters and reconnaissance through enemy-held areas"), a Bronze Arrowhead device for parachuting behind enemy lines, and a commendation from Yugoslavia's Marshal Tito. He left active duty on December 24, 1945.[9]

Now, how much more would one want to qualify an actor, and real life hero,  to play Travis in the movies??




Linda (TV Movie) (novella "Linda") 

 1991 Cape Fear (novel "The Executioners") 

 1985 Tales from the Darkside (TV Series) (story - 1 episode) 

Ring Around the Redhead (1985) ... (story)

 1984 American Playhouse (TV Series) (novel - 1 episode) 

A Flash of Green (1984) ... (novel)

 1983 Travis McGee (TV Movie) (novel "The Empty Copper Sea") 

 1981 The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite (TV Movie) (characters) 

 1980 Condominium (TV Movie) (novel) 

 1980 The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything (TV Movie) (novel) 

 1973 Linda (TV Movie) (novel) 

 1970 Darker Than Amber (novel "Darker Than Amber") 

 1968 Kona Coast (story "Bimini Gal") 

 1967-1968 Run for Your Life (TV Series) (novel - 3 episodes) 

Beware My Love (1968) ... (novel)

Cry Hard, Cry Fast: Part 2 (1967) ... (novel)

Cry Hard, Cry Fast: Part 1 (1967) ... (novel)

 1967 ABC Stage 67 (TV Series) (story - 1 episode) 

The Trap of Solid Gold (1967) ... (story)

 1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre (TV Series) (novel - 1 episode) 

The Deep End (1964) ... (novel)

 1962 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (TV Series) (short story - 1 episode) 

Hangover (1962) ... (short story)

 1962 Cape Fear (novel "The Executioners") 

 1961 Man-Trap (novel "Taint of the Tiger") 

 1960 Thriller (TV Series) (story - 1 episode) 

The Fatal Impulse (1960) ... (story)

 1958 Studio 57 (TV Series) (story "The Homesick Buick" - 1 episode) 

Getaway Car (1958) ... (story "The Homesick Buick")

 1957 Studio One in Hollywood (TV Series) (story - 1 episode) 

First Prize for Murder (1957) ... (story)

 1956 Chevron Hall of Stars (TV Series) (story - 1 episode) 

In a Small Motel (1956) ... (story)

 1951-1952 Tales of Tomorrow (TV Series) (story - 2 episodes) 

A Child Is Crying (1952) ... (story)

A Child Is Crying (1951) ... (story - as John MacDonald)

 1951 Out There (TV Series) (story - 1 episode) 

Susceptibility (1951) ... (story)

 1950 Lights Out (TV Series) (story - 1 episode) 

A Child Is Crying (1950) ... (story)


Movies resulting from  a JDM novel or short story:

“Cape Fear”  (1962)

Based on the novel The Executioners 

Starring Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum

“Cape Fear”  (1991)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Starring Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte


“Darker Than Amber” (1970)

Starring Rod Taylor as Travis McGee


“A Flash of Green “ (1984)

Starring Ed Harris

 ( arguably the best adaptation)


“Kona Coast”  (1968)



Based on the story "Bimini Gall"

Starring Richard Boone

“Man-Trap” (1961 AKA Deadlock, Restless)

Based on the story "Taint of the Tiger" 

Starring Jeffrey Hunter, David Janssen

“Condominium”  (1980)

Starring Barbara Eden, Steve Forrest, Ana Alicia, Richard Anderson

“The Empty Copper Sea,”   (1983 AKA Travis McGee: The Empty Copper Sea)

Starring Sam Elliot as Travis McGee

The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything,”  (1980)

Starring Robert Hays, Pam Dawber

“Linda”  (1973)

Based on  “Linda,” a story by John D. MacDonald

Starring Stella Stevens, Ed Nelson

“Linda”  (1993 AKA Lust for Murder)

Starring Virginia Madsen, Ted McGinley

“Hangover,”  Alfred Hitcock Presents (Series 8) with Tony Randall

Note:  there may have been some tv shows in the 1950’s, but it is hard to determine them, if at all.



Dear CBranche,

I just watched a rather fine episode of the old television series "Thriller" from the 1960's. Broadcast today, 8 PM, on ME TV in Chicago.

 Story was about a bomber who left a bomb in a purse of a woman who is leaving a building and the police try to find the woman. It stars Robert Lansing as the policeman. It was a good episode and I looked to see who the writer was and it is based on a short story by MacDonald.

I think he might have written the screenplay too.

You might want to look it up and add it

to the television credits of J.D. MacDonald at yours site as it was quite a good script.

It impressed me enough to look up the writer and I found your website. Was pleased to discover it and thought you might like the info on another Macdonald TV script.

All Best,

Robert Kameczura


 There are two songs which have been written on JDM and Travis:

 "Thank You John MacDonald For McGee," by Mario Fig, and it is available on CD.

 "McGee"s Waltz" by Bev Seinberg.  Bev has this song on a cassette titled "Lost and Found." Contact me for ordering info.


And we can add the references to Travis in Jimmy Buffett’s song: “Incommunicado”:

By: Jimmy Buffett, Deborah McColl, M.L. Benoit 1980 

For the Duke and Travis McGee Travis McGee's still in Cedar Key That's what ol' John MacDonald said My rendezvous's so long overdue With all of the things I've sung and I've read They still apply to me They all make sense in time 

Chorus: But now I'm incommunicado Drivin' by myself down the road with a hole in it Songs with no vibrato Takin' the long way home 

Now on the day that John Wayne died I found myself on the continental divide Tell me where do I go from here Think I'll ride into Leadville and have a few beers I think of "Red River" or "Liberty Valance" Can't believe the old man's gone 

Chorus: But now he's incommunicado Leavin' such a hole in a world that believed That a life with such bravado Was takin' the right way home 

So when I finished that last line I put the book by itself on the shelf with my heart in it Never wastin' time takin' the right way home I know I'm never wastin' time findin' the right way home 

Chorus: Still I am incommunicado Livin' next door to a leg with a pin in it Life with such bravado Is takin' the right way home 

Tryin' to make it Tryin' to fake it Tryin' to take it home 

Tryin' to make it Tryin' to fake it Tryin' to take it home 

I know I'm... Tryin' to make it Sometimes I fake it Tryin' to take it home 

All I'm doing is... Tryin' to make it Tryin' to fake it Tryin' to take it home 

But now I'm incommunicado...

© bill 2014