Jeff Mackay dead at 59

Liver failure claims life of ‘Magnum P.I.’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’ actor

Jeff MacKay in 'Black Sheep Squadron'

I was shocked, just shocked, to see that Jeff Mackay died.

Who’s Jeff Mackay you ask? Well, if you watched much television during the 1980s, then you’d know.

Mackay would likely be most familiar to fans of Magnum P.I. as Magnum’s buddy, Mac, who died and then returned in several ways throughout the series. I know that’s the first thing I think about when I think of Mackay.

Jeff Mackay, who starred in shows such as 'Magnum P.I.' and 'Tales of the Gold Monkey,' died at the age of 59
Jeff Mackay, who starred in shows such as ‘Magnum P.I.’ and ‘Tales of the Gold Monkey,’ died at the age of 59

According to reports, 59-year-old Mackay died of liver failure on August 22nd in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lived.

Reading through his bio, I think it’s fair to say if you threw a stone you’d hit an 80s TV show he’d appeared in. Not only did Mackay—who was a cousin of Robert Redford—appear in Magnum, he also had a role in Battlestar Galactica, the short lived cult favorite Tales of the Gold Monkey, and Baa Baa Black Sheep (a.k.a. Black Sheep Squadron). He even provided the voice of Firelight in the animated Transformers series.

Mackay also made brief appearances in Airwolf and Hardcastle and McCormick from the 80s, and most recently had a recurring role on JAG.

The funny thing is that I feel like he was in a lot, but looking at his IMDB rundown, he really wasn’t. He was, however, in many of the shows I watched as a kid. His face and voice are imprinted in my head, so much so I can’t even believe he was 59 years old. To me he’ll always be the way he appeared in all those shows I watched—and still watch.

It’s sad to know that he’s gone.

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Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

9 thoughts on “Jeff Mackay dead at 59

  1. Just saw Fantastic Beasts, the new Harry Potter universe movie, and was surprised by how much the ‘nomag’ looked like him. That is how I came across this page. As someone has already posted, it really did seem that he was in all of the popular shows in the later 70s and throughout the 80s.
    Just sad that he was taken so relatively young. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and freinds. Gob Bless

  2. I just watched the Magnum PI episode where Magnum thinks he sees Mac only to find him and find out he’s a con man who looks like Mac, or did he only look like him? Anyways one of my all time favorite shows and I only found out now that Jeff Mackay is gone, so sad. Goodbye Mac

    1. That was season 5, episode 2: “Mac’s Back.” One of my favorite episodes. It’s hard to believe Jeff passed 8 years ago, next month, on August 22, of liver failure. He is truly missed.

  3. Loved Mac as Magnum’s good friend. Thought of him today, because I saw him in All the President’s Men. Thanks for the memories, Mac!

  4. One of the best people I have had the great pleasure
    To be pals with , love you Mac , Miss you all the Time
    Godbless

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