Growing up in Los Angeles, Peter McKay started out not wanting to be a writer, but to work in television. His first parts were in commercials, where he gained nationwide attention as the little boy who cried “You sank my battleship!” while clasping his hands to his head. Peter’s face appeared on hundreds of thousands of Battleship Game boxes, and he still, to his great frustration, runs into people who ask him to recite the famous line.
Fans of ’60s TV shows and trivia aficionados will remember Peter’s short-lived appearance in the pilot episode of the The Partridge Family, where he was the original Chris. Due to a contract dispute, Peter was replaced by another actor after the first episode, but his work can still be seen on rare Partridge Family TV marathons. (An eBay auction last year of Peter’s prized drumsticks from the show brought in hundreds of dollars for charity.)
During the ’70s, Peter could be seen as the poor neighbor boy Darrell Sykes, who dated youngest daughter Elizabeth on the family drama The Waltons before running off to join the army in WWII, where he was killed in action, and in the final years of Happy Days, Peter appeared as Chachi’s buddy, Sluggo, where his catch phrase of snapping his fingers, pointing, nodding his head and saying, “You the man, Chach!” made him a short-lived national phenomenon.
In the early ’80s, Peter starred in the NBC action/sci-fi/adventure series Officer C.H.I.P and Stash, where he played a beat policeman who, after a tragic accident, has the left side of his brain replaced by a bionic processor that leaves him with superior crime-solving skills but no emotions. His street-smart partner, Stash, was played by none other than a young George Clooney. The series was cancelled after just five episodes, but is available on DVD.
Peter quit acting in 1987 in order to pursue a career as a rancher. He now runs Little “C” Miniature Horse Farm in western Pennsylvania, where he breeds and trains miniature horses for the tourist trade. His horses have won worldwide competitions, garnering the Miniature Horsemen of America’s (MHoA) top prize “Lil’ Pony Cup” award three straight years.
In 1999, Peter began writing a humor column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Peter’s columns on home repair, dealing with kids, dogs, neighbors and American life in the new millennium (a vague phrase that means nothing but at least sounds impressive) have appeared in that paper since. In recent years, Peter’s returned to his roots, working on television and feature film scripts.