THE HAWAII FIVE-0 NEWSLETTER
Volume 4 April, 2007 Issue 2
End of an Era…or is it?
Recounting the events of the Hawaii Five-0 history has to be a big account. First were the thoughts, the imaginations and daring to steps outside of the box to create such a successful show. While Hawaii Five-0 might have started for the viewing audience back on September 20, 1968, it actually started way before its first airing.
After the show’s creator, Leonard Freeman, wrote down his idea for the show, he had to find someone who thought the show would stand a chance in the make or break world of entertainment. Thankfully for us fans, he did find someone – CBS.
The first episode was a one hour show – or movie if you want to call it that. Again, Freeman used his talents when he found right the people for the show. As with all new things, some changes were made and one of them was to the cast… that of Danny Williams. Tim O’Kelly had been selected back then to play the youthful side to the straight forward, by the book Chief of the newly created State Police unit being called Hawaii Five-0. Later Freeman decided O’Kelly just did not have it for the part, so he asked James MacArthur if he would like the spot.
The show aired during a time of great change in our world. Freeman and CBS dared to experiment with these changes by touching upon subjects previously forbidden on any television station and their daring proved successful.
The best thing Freeman did was to hire Jack Lord to be the star of the show. Stories did abound on how difficult Jack was to work for or with but in the same context, there are stories about how Jack Lord gave of himself to others – always striving to help his fellow actor/actress to give their best for the show. Was Jack Lord a perfectionist? Yes he was and a perfectionist can be very hard to work with.
Both Freeman and Lord used the natural beauty of the islands to its fullest and they encouraged the local population to be part of the show.
Jack Lord was a man of many talents, not only as an actor, but also as a producer and director for many of the H50’s episodes for which Hawaii applauded him several times. The beauty the show, brought into the homes of thousands of viewers, convinced hordes of tourists to flock to the island made famous by the show.
Most of us are familiar with the life histories of Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong, Gilbert Francis Lani Damian Kauhi (aka Zulu) and Khigh Dhiegh. They only portrayed single characters in the show.
Several people actually played several different characters – again be it a good or a bad guy/gal. Herman Wedemeyer was one who had several roles; twice he played Lt. Balta, then a police dispatcher, then Lt. Grayson and then a judge before getting the role as Duke Lukela. Al Harrington had even more roles before he secured the role of Ben Kokua. He played a prisoner named Toshi, then as Charlie a hit man, then Bates a prison guard, then a man named Ray in ‘No Bottles, No Cans, No People’, and then as Fred Noonan in ‘For a Million…Why not?’. There were many more (too many to really name here) who did other characters before obtaining a frequently seen character in the show.
The one thing I do find interesting though is that only Jack Lord and Khigh Dhiegh were there from the very first to the very end and their characters never changed – you know – that good vs evil bit.
Even the H50 secretarial staff had its changes. Maggie Parker who played May (we never learned if May had a last name) eleven times and she was McGarrett’s first secretary. Jenny Ryan played in 53 episodes and they had her down for three different names (Mildred, Millie and Jenny [even with Jenny it was either Jenny Sherman or Jenny Ryan Sherman]). McGarrett’s last secretary was Laura Sode-Matteson played Luana. It would have taken a special type of women to be able to put up with all that went on in that office. What with all the bombings and having an explosive type of boss, that would have taken a woman with guts and we, the fans, salute them. They warranted more than the occasional lei from the man in the BIG office.
As it is inevitable, the show started to have some major changes to the cast. The first to leave and under mysterious circumstances was the departure of Zulu at the end of the 4th Season. It is rumored Zulu confronted one of Freeman’s friends saying rather racial comments to them. When this got back to Jack Lord, Lord went to Freeman demanding Freeman let the big Hawaiian go. Unfortunately, words once spoken couldn’t be retracted and the big loveable Kono Kalakaua became history. Thankfully, the fanfiction writers love to keep him with the show inside their stories with their imaginations and desire to expand upon the show and its characters.
The show picked up a new H50 team character then in the guise of Ben Kokua played by Al Harrington. Harrington did a masterful job with his role. A successful actor prior to the show, he played various parts – good guy and bad guy – before being offered the part of Ben Kokua. To the heartaches of many fans, Harrington left the show after only 67 episodes.
Kam Fong, sadly, was the next main actor to leave. His character was the only one on the show to be killed off. Fong’s portrayal of the fatherly Chinese figure in the group left a big hole when he left. Chin Ho Kelly presented a steadiness to the H50 team; someone the others could count on in both the good and the bad times and to seek out for fatherly advice.
James MacArthur was the last actor to leave the show. Some fans claim the show ended that year, but the show did go on for one more year. Did MacArthur's leaving cause the demise of the show? Staunch MacArthur fans, who I know, feel it probably did. All I know is the changing tide of television viewing played a huge part in ending the long running show.
Once the show did end, it left a void for many television viewers. CBS tried to fill it with reruns called ‘McGarrett’, but if I remember right, it only lasted one year. I think some people even call it the 13th Season. Whichever it was, there were no more scenes of our guys racing down the Iolani Palace steps, or the shouts of “Hold it! Five-0! Give it up!” or ‘Book ‘em, Danno!’ or McGarrett asking ‘Whatdaya got?’. But in reality, the show never truly died. It will live on forever in the memories of its fans and on their VCR tapes and now their DVD's to be watched over and over.
One of the fantastic twists about the show is the many times our favorite sayings have been and still is being mentioned in other shows. Inevitably, someone on another show will mention something like 'Who do you think this is? Five-0?’ I think it is great we still hearing our favorite phrases some 30 years later. All of this just adds to the mystic and majesty of the show. Only one other show has ever done this and not in the same volume Hawaii Five-0 has done.
During the show’s run a fan club was created – the Iolani Irregulars, who had a newsletter (hard copies only) which that kept the fans in touch with each other. After the club closed, some of the fans got together and created the Hawaii Five-0 Fan Club a web based club site, which has a newsletter called Central Dispatch. All of this happened with the advent of the computer and the internet. Since then the H50 fandom has increased ten-fold almost every year. There were also two Hawaii Five-0 conventions, one in Hawaii and the other in Los Angeles. New friendships were formed, commonalities learned and everyone had one thing in common – their love and devotion to one of the longest lasting television shows – HAWAII FIVE-0.
Sadly, as with all things, our favorite celebrities grew old and started to die. As we learned of their deaths, we mourned with their families.
I think the one death that really shook the world was the passing of Jack Lord. We all, in our hearts, never thought he would go. After his death, we turned to his wife, Marie. She was our last thread of connection to ‘the man’ and in a way, to the show. We all speculated what would happen when even this tidbit of our adoration was no longer there. Then it too happened and on October 13th 2006 we learned of Marie Lord’s death. We thought to ourselves, what will become of all the stuff the Lords had kept. When the Lord’s will was revealed, we learned they had left a lot of money to various charities. Okay, money is one thing, but what about the tangible items the Lords owned.
There were many speculations about what would happen to the Lord’s condominium after it was put up for sale. But even before Marie died, her condominium complex had many problems. There was the danger that the leaseholders would lose their homes. We, the fans, ponder on whether or not she would be forced to move. Thankfully, the problem was resolved and Marie was safe in her home. The last I knew from the website, the condo is still up for sale but now we can assume it is void on any of the private items the Lord’s had decorated their home with.
We all knew Jack Lord was a painter and a collector and these were the items we wanted to know about. Where would they be ending up at and with whom? Would there be a way of obtaining any of them and who would be selling them?
We didn’t have long to wait. A man acting as an agent for the estate contacted Hawaii Five-0 Fan Club informing them that the Jack Lord Personal Memorabilia auction would be held on Ebay. I believe there was around 1,000 items being sold.
Things being sold ranged from photos of Jack Lord, clothing, jewelry, furniture, desk items, scripts, film and film equipment and paintings, some done by Jack Lord, others by various other artists. There were even some personal items being sold that had some fans expressing their strong feelings on, like the Lord’s wedding certificate and wedding rings.
Prices for these items ranged from about $15 to $35,000. It was interesting to see how some of the bidding went. Most of the time the auction took 6 days to complete and sometimes there were no bids on an item until the last half hour. I saw some items that started off at $15 only to end up in the hundreds of dollars. There were discussions on the various egroups on how it seemed the same item was being listed several times. I’m not an expert on how Ebay lists the items, but I’m hoping each of those people got what they won.
Having looked over most of the items, I noticed several fans were extremely successful and bought well over 20 items. One buyer had to have spent somewhere near $10,000 total for everything they bought. To those who were successful, I say Congratulations. You have bought a piece of history. I hope some of you will share your fortunes with the others by offering scanned photos to the various websites out there, this way we can all have a piece of the Jack Lord legacy.
Now, on a lighter note, we, the fans, do have something to look forward to and that are the DVD’s of the show, which have finally been released. The sales of 1st Season episodes were hot and heavy with stores and websites selling out of them within a few days. Thankfully CBS/Viacom got their act together and had some additional DVD’s burned. There is also a rumor that the 2nd Season will be available around July 31st. If this is so and if they release a new season every 6 months, then maybe we, the fans, will be able to have the complete copies of the show so we can watch the tropical breezes flipping through the hair of Jack Lord again.
With the surge of newer younger fans discovering the show and the increasing fanfiction being posted to the internet (keep up the great work writers), I think the Era of Hawaii Five-0 will live forever. So in the words of Jack Lord….BE THERE – ALOHA!
A word from our sponsors:
Anyone interested in copies of Hawaii Five-0 episodes (mostly all full versions) can contact Barbara Brindle at 105 Warren Road, Sparta, NJ 07871. Barbara does not have an email address so you’ll need to phone her at 973-729-9232. Her rates are reasonable and she’s very reliable.
Ron Evans, owner of e/p Partners, www.networksplus.net/caseyguy/epPartners.htm, also offer VCR tapes of Hawaii Five-0, Jack Lord and James MacArthur, among others. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Rhodes, author of Booking Hawaii Five-0, would like contact from anyone who has purchased the unauthorized DVD set being sold on the internet by dvdavenue.tv or anyone else. She says she is specifically interested in getting a look at the episode guide they advertise to go with the DVD set, to check for possible copyright infringement. Contact Karen at email@example.com
Hard copies of the newsletter are available.
The Hawaii Five-0 Newsletter is available in print form. Membership is $10 per year for four issues (foreign subscriptions are $14.00 US funds). Checks for membership may be made out to Annette Nixon/H50FC. You can contact Annette at Spinkick@colint.net and ask her for her mailing address. Any additional financial contributions are always welcome. The newsletter will be available on the 15th of January, April, July and October.
Submissions, which are always welcomed, to the newsletter can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadlines are one month before each issue. You can find the Central Dispatch on Terri’s Jack Lord Connection located at www.thejacklordconnection.com.
See you in July, 2007
Be There! Aloha!