‘Five-0’ star
Jack Lord dies

Jack Lord

Lord, who played the rugged
Steve McGarrett for 12 years,
dies of heart failure at 77

By Mary Adamski

The star of the television series "Hawaii Five-O," which brought images of Hawaii into homes around the world for years beyond its 12-year run, should be remembered for encouraging the careers of dozens of entertainment professionals.

"It was his insistence over the years that made sure the show would be here, that it should use local talent on both sides of the camera," said Honolulu actor Doug Mossman. "Jack Lord was a great friend to Hawaii."

Lord died last night of congestive heart failure at his Kahala home. He was 77. He had been in seclusion for several years with what acquaintances say was Alzheimer's or a similar disease. He is survived by his wife, Marie.

Lord portrayed Steve McGarrett, the no-nonsense head of a fictitious Hawaii state police force, in the CBS series from 1968 to 1980, one of the longest running hourlong dramas in television history. The show was seen in 80 countries with a weekly audience estimated at more than 300 million.

Many of the 284 episodes ended with McGarrett collaring the criminals and saying to his sidekick played by actor James MacArthur, "Book 'em, Danno!" Shot entirely on location in Hawaii, "Five-0" was the forerunner of other island shows, including "Magnum, P.I." Lord was producer and director of several episodes of the show which was created and produced by the late Leonard Freeman.

Early local opposition

"Five-0" initially faced local opposition, because of its depiction of crime in paradise. But it also showcased the natural beauty of Hawaii week after week for millions of potential tourists, and the show wound up with popular support.

"He was a very strict task master," said Hawaii actor Kam Fong, who played detective Chin Ho. "I learned a lot from him, by watching him. I did stage shows here in Hawaii but never really acted before a camera. I had a lot to learn, and by watching Jack, I learned a lot of techniques. We got along real nice. He respected me and I respected him."

Fong said that most of his former colleagues and friends had not seen Lord for years. "We knew he was sick, he was suffering from Alzheimer's. We talked about him but we didn't get to see him. Marie would allow no one to visit, not even MacArthur."

After the series ended in 1980, the Lords remained in Hawaii and made appearances for local charities. Clad always in long-sleeved aloha shirts and a plantation style hat, Lord was recognized and approached by fans.

"Jack loved acting and he loved these islands," said Marie Lord in a statement released last night. "Through all his years he was blessed with the kindness, affection and support of many fans and friends. He always appreciated that and never forgot it."

Worked on ships

Born John Joseph Patrick Ryan in New York City, Lord spent his high school summers working at sea and indulging in his first love, art. He sketched and painted what he saw of China, the Mediterranean and Africa from the decks of freighters while serving in the Merchant Marine.

Lord went on to major in art at New York University, which he attended on a football scholarship. His art works made their way into a number of permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Once Lord decided to become an actor, he studied nights for three years at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York while working days as a car salesman. He also worked at the Actors Studio with the likes of Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and Marilyn Monroe.

He appeared on Broadway in "The Traveling Lady" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," before going to Hollywood to appear with Gary Cooper in "The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell." His film credits also include "Dr. No," the first James Bond movie, in which he played CIA agent Felix Leighter.

Meanwhile, Lord made guest appearances on a number of television shows, including "Playhouse 90," "The Untouchables," and "Have Gun, Will Travel." He landed the lead role in a short-lived television series about rodeo cowboy "Stoney Burke."

In the late 1980s, Lord reportedly was involved in plans to reprise "Hawaii Five-O" as a made-for-TV movie, but the project fizzled. Last year a pilot film was shot of a new version of "Hawaii Five-O" but it was never shown.

Some original cast and crew members convened in October 1996 in Los Angeles and Honolulu for "Mahalo Con: The Hawaii Five-O Reunion Convention."

Mossman said Lord "was criticized for being too stern" but he recalled Lord's patience with fans who gathered whenever the show was filming on location around the islands.

"He was always very kind, especially to children and elderly fans. He'd take the time to talk to them, pose for photos. During a break, he would be over here being gracious."

Mossman, who played a character named Frank Kamana on the show, was also performing in a luau show at the Outrigger Hotel. "He would show up, walk up on stage and thrill the crowd."

"The last few years have not been terrific for him. I always knew him as a tower of strength, running, jogging, keeping in shape. It was sad to be aware he was so debilitated in the last few years. It was common knowledge, he had Alzheimer's or something akin to it," Mossman said.

Former television sportscaster Les Keiter recalled Lord's personal support on one of his 14 appearances on the series.

Keiter was preparing for his scene as a reporter who was adversarial toward McGarrett, when Lord summoned him. "He said, 'I want to tear it up, I want you to have a bigger role.' At the time when I did my speech, he took the cue card and held it up for me. He guided me through what was almost an ad-lib change for my part. Someone told me that was a first."

Keiter said, "He was a treasured friend and a professional who I respected as much as I have respected any professional. Hawaii will miss him more than words can express.

"He did something unique; he became identified with Hawaii to people all over the world."

Lord requested that there be no funeral services.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Jack and Marie Lord Fund, which benefits local charities. Donations can be sent to the Hawaii Community Foundation, 900 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, HI 96813.

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