THE HAWAII FIVE-0 FAN CLUB NEWSLETTER
Volume 6 January, 2004 Issue 21
A Chance to Meet Al Harrington!
by Leilani Kimmel-Dagostino
Saturday, October 11 the American Airlines Islander Club was pleased to have Al
Harrington serve as the Master of Ceremonies for its annual fundraiser luau in
Gardena, California. Al has homes in Santa Monica, Utah, and Hawaii and is
always generous in volunteering his time to work on charitable events. In fact
the very next week after the luau, I ran into him again at the Go For Broke
Evening of Aloha at the Hyatt Regency in Long Beach. Go For Broke is a
foundation which sponsors programs to educate students in the role of Japanese
Americans who volunteered to serve America in World War II in the 442nd
and MIS Regiments even though their families were imprisoned behind barbed wire
concentration camps on the West Coast. Al is very active in this group also.
Al introduced himself as
“the guy who jumped over the fence in the opening credits of the Hawaii Five-0
television show.” He spoke warmly of Jack Lord and said he owed everything to
the show, which allowed him to live comfortably and send his children through
Al wore a Hawaiian shirt,
sunglasses, and a feather headband and sang songs, played ukulele, danced, and
joked with the audience. Gardena, California has one of the densest populations
of Hawaiians than any city in the mainland. In fact when Al jokingly asked how
many people were either from Hawaii or had been to Hawaii, just about everybody
raised their hand.
Al is from Pago Pago but
was raised in Honolulu. He attended the Punahou private school there. We locals
have a joke about people who attend Punahou because when you do not speak the
native pidgin, we jokingly say, “You sound like you go Punahou!”
I had a chance to visit
with him between sets and he graciously autographed a flyer for me. He said he
still was good friends with James MacArthur and other cast members from the
show. He said he is always amazed at the enduring popularity of the show even
after all these years.
At 57 years old, Al
Harrington is timeless. I think this is because he has found the right balance
between career and lifestyle. He was a teacher for 7 years before transitioning
into a full time entertainer. I sense that his education background continues to
fuel his zeal for charitable work and his scholarship programs.
He said to give him a call anytime we needed help for a fundraiser. I am sure that we will cross paths again soon.
A Chat with Eddie Sherman
by Jerry Pickard, UH '72, firstname.lastname@example.org
the early 70's when this troubled reporter (me) lived in Hawai'i,
virtually everybody read Eddie Sherman's daily column, characterized
by numerous 'three-dot'* item separators, in the Honolulu Advertiser.
One HAD to, in order to gain some idea of what was going on in Paradise
on the people side. Now, 30 years later, virtually everybody in Hawai'i is
quasi-obligatorily still reading Eddie Sherman. But it's not daily, at
this stage of life, and it's not in the 'ol 'Tiser. Instead, he writes for
rival Star-Bulletin's Midweek. And he has his own website (with a link to
his latest column) at www.eddiesherman.com from which you can email him, should
you have such a hankering--it's probable he'd be especially happy to
hear from ones knowledgeable about Five-0.
We got together for Sunday breakfast at the Ala Moana Hotel in February 2003. He had recently undergone surgery on his nose for a malignancy. But even with his hatchetized honker, folks from the local citizenry were not at all shy about politely interrupting our chat and having a word with the highly seasoned Hawai'i media pro. Not a bit, whether it was to confide in him that their offspring was now working at a Los Angeles hotel and would be happy to book him a room, or just inform him of a return to living in the Islands after a 21year absence in Deutschland. And due recordings were made in each case, in his omni- present notebook. As he pointed out afterwards, he has a great deal of respect and affection for the "good, solid local people of Hawai'i," who comparatively have no big axe to grind from his perspective!
It can be readily said that Eddie Sherman is a quintessentially, exceptionally personable being. Which is not a bad thing to be, given his line of work and expertise. Coming to the Islands in the early 40's, he never again considered the Mainland as home. He worked as an entertainer himself, but it was a short-lived venture. The lure of the press and later the small screen to some extent, helped take him away from such aspirations. Through marriage to Peggy Ryan (there's that magic surname again!), among other ties, he kept his association with show business very much alive, as he does today. Incidentally, Eddie shared that he has been working on a book about celebrities he's met in Hawai'i -- this sounds like a gotta-get, whenever it comes out.
Back to Peggy, whom of course we knew as 'Jenny Sherman, ‘ throughout much of the series. She broke into professional dancing at a VERY early age, as a young girl co-starring with George Murphy and then with Donald O'Connor at Universal Studios, before she was even through her teens. She had major roles in most of the 60 movies in which she appeared, and could be seen around the world, including quite prestigious venues like the London Palladium.
Eddie first laid smitten eyes on her when he was at the impressionable, hormone-charged age of 16, in Boston, where she was performing. Peggy was still very much in his thoughts years later when, knowing that she was in Honolulu (with five-year old Carrie) for an engagement, he happened to be asked by a mutual acquaintance if he would mind being her date at a lunch. There was a reciprocal attraction on her part during this occasion, intensified when Peggy learned there was no Mrs. Sherman. He was introduced to Carrie, all looked promising, he proposed to Peggy, and the response was an immediate 'yes!' Then the two females had to return to the Mainland but only, said Peggy, for as long as it took to get a Mexican divorce. Eddie recalled thinking he'd likely never see them again, though, because as he put it, "so often when people fly past Diamond Head, Island romances become just a memory." But come back Peggy did, to a 1958 marriage that lasted some thirty years. When it was over she went to Nevada where her vast dance experience and repertoire continue to be vicariously played out.
Both Peggy and Eddie, of course, have left their mark on Five-0. Originally, she had not actually wanted to be in the series, considering it somewhat beneath the stature of entertainment she'd previously enjoyed. But Leonard Freeman, who was "almost a brother" to Eddie, persevered in his efforts to have her on-camera. The stage- name 'Jenny' was given to her as a tribute to Lenny's mother, incidentally. Peggy found that for her role as secretary, the commitment was only a manageable one day a week, and she found such an outing kind of fun, away from their children who had occasional parts on the show, too.
The relationship between Eddie and Lenny was very strong, indeed. At one stage in the early 70's, he said, Lenny even offered him a position with Leonard Freeman Productions. It would have required his moving to California to learn the nitty-gritty of the television industry. He seriously considered going, but it was not to be...Lenny passed on during heart surgery before the proposal could be further advanced.
A great deal of commentary was offered up by Eddie with regard to Zoulou, and particularly to the incident which led to the end of the Kono character and Zoulou's departure from Five-0. This will not be repeated by this writer. Suffice it to say, Eddie showed remarkable aloha in the aftermath, doing his best to help his client-friend to re-launch his nightclub career, under very difficult conditions. Indeed, Eddie has always been a very strong promoter of local Hawai'i-grown talent, which he said he felt was a key part of his job. Eddie's own ingrained show-business empathies meant that he could understand a lot of the problems that many entertainers face, not the least of which are some very real underlying insecurities.
A bit of chronological backing up, however, to the show's first season. Halfway through, i.e. just before the end of 1968 when it was beginning to manifest some very encouraging initial popularity, CBS decided to move it to different day/time slot. Leonard Freeman did not agree at all with this strategy. Eddie, however, pointed out that the debut for the new day was Christmas Eve, "a joyous time, when many people would be away from their televisions--unless bad weather cancels their plans." He suggested that Lenny pray for snow where possible on the Mainland, because then people might stay home and look for tropical refuge by tuning in to Five-0. As matters developed, the praying worked and there was a substantial snowstorm in the big viewing markets of the East and Midwest. The ratings went through the roof and that night, the show beat out every one of its competitors!
But the stories got even better as Eddie launched himself further into the Five-0 reminiscing mode. He recounted how, after the show's first year, Lenny made a major announcement during dinner at Waikiki's acclaimed Canlis Broiler with Eddie and Paul King. (The latter was the top CBS honcho assigned to Five-0.) It was that unless Hawaii came up with an acceptable covered set for Five-0, he would take the series back to L.A. when he returned in a few months. The substandard production conditions that everyone had endured since the pilot, were not befitting a show of its caliber and potential, he emphatically stated, citing a lack of cooperation locally, on top of inferior physical plant, etc.
Because of his closeness to Lenny, Eddie said he tended to consider himself as sort of a 'self-appointed exec for Five-0.' He realized this was a critical time for this program which would come to mean so much for Hawai'i's future well-being. So, he went to a friend who owned a prominent finance and realty firm. The question was put to this individual, could he help build a sound stage? The unsuspecting benefactor did not know what this was, nor whether it would be a good investment. Finally, after some very persuasive representations from Eddie, along with agreement from his lawyer, as well as the State's willingness (assisted by Governor John Burns) to provide a substantial piece of land for it on the slopes by Diamond Head; he consented. Both lawyer and financier wished to low-ball their involvement, so Eddie was named as the president of this project. He, however, never publicized the arrangement very much either. His
partners elected to give the facility to CBS after a few years, and ultimately, it was replaced by the current version.
Sherman, of course, enjoyed a few appearances in front of the cameras. After all, he pointed out, "everyone did something on Five- 0." Besides portraying a corpse, he played himself -- and ended up directing that segment on his own!
Eddie remembers Jack Lord as one whose heart was in the right place. Despite his well-documented contentiousness (again, the reference to Zoulou was drawn), Jack loved Hawai'i, was extremely dedicated, helped a lot of people...and fired a lot of folks too. He said Jack's age always kept under wraps; even when a court case came up during production, the opposing lawyer was frustratedly unable to "crack the age question." After the series' conclusion, Eddie seldom saw Jack unless they bumped into each other at Kahala Mall's Times Supermarket.
It was Eddie's thought that what most likely finally did Jack in was that, apart from doing a modicum of painting and writing after 1980, Jack chose mainly to sit on his lanai and gaze at the ocean. Perhaps he'd decided in view of his having worked so hard for so long, that that's all he wanted to do. But per Eddie – who himself is continuing to keep busy after the generally accepted retirement age -- one simply has to pursue mental and physical stimulation to remain alive. He recognized that Jack was tending to "lose it," when they would have the occasional chance encounter, and Jack would repeatedly ask him the same questions over and over. It was very sad, he said.
All this notwithstanding, Eddie's recollections of his association with Hawaii Five-0 are predominantly positive, as was our get-together at the Ala Moana Hotel. His book, when it's finished, will definitely be on my 'must-read' list, and he is thanked most sincerely for the opportunity to meet with him as well as for his many good turns for Hawai'i!
From the "Who Knew" Department
by Sandy Sturdivant
At the Western Film Festival held in Tombstone, Arizona, on July5-7, 2002, Dennis Weaver and Buck Taylor were sitting around, reminiscing with Don Collier (The Outlaws and High Chaparral). Buck's father was Dub Taylor (Dear Enemy), a very well-known character actor and long-time friend of Don's. Buck is himself a very well-known character actor having achieved a great deal of fame as Newly O'Brien on Gunsmoke for ten years.
In 1967, three film projects were being proposed and all three wanted Buck who was still very new in the film business but showed a lot of promise from the work he had already done. One was Hang Em High with Clint Eastwood, one was the Newly O'Brien character on Gunsmoke and the other was the part of Dan Williams on Hawaii Five-0. The director of Hang Em High wanted Buck to play the part of the preacher, the part that James MacArthur eventually played and working with Clint Eastwood was a young actor's dream. Jim Arness of Gunsmoke wanted Buck for the role of Newly O'Brien, the gunsmith and working with the legendary Matt Dillon was every kid's ream. Jack Lord wanted Buck for the role of Dan Williams, and Jack Lord was a man with a goal and enough determination to achieve it.
Buck had made his "official" television acting debut on Stoney Burke and he and Jack Lord became very close friends.. Buck even went back for more Stoney's and this led to other roles on other westerns, including Gunsmoke, which brought him to the attention of Hang Em High. Buck really didn't know what he should do. All three jobs were gold mines. The movie was a one-time deal, but the part was very important with a lot of exposure. Gunsmoke was arleady a television legend, although there was no way to predict how much longer it would last. Hawaii Five-o was brand new, untested and there was no way of knowing if it would be picked up by the networks or not, but with Jack Lord at the helm, it seemed logical to succeed. After a great deal of inner struggle, Buck decided to go with Gunsmoke, which made him a big name overnight. He never regretted not taking the other two parts and he is so tickled that James MacArthur not only went on to fame and glory as Danno, but also got to play the preacher in Hang Em High!
Beau van den Ecker
In August, the Hawaii Five-0 Fan Club (internet) let us know that James MacArthur had recently met up with Beau and had lunch with him. Beau was living at that time in the San Fernando valley but he health was not all that it could be. When the subject of Hawaii Five-0 came up, Beau was astonished to learn that his name is still mentioned and that he still has fans. He was tickled
to learn of the informal "spot the Beau" comments which arise from time to time in discussions of episodes.
Then in January, Jerry Pickard heard from Katharine Rich- who he met along with Beau at the November HIFF awards night in Honolulu. She sent along this message:
"Early this month, Beau was admitted to a Residential Care Facility here in Tustin, California. We are in the process of getting Beau admited into the Motion Picture & Television Home in Woodland Hills. CA. He is a tough guy and hanging in there and praying for a cure for this disease. Beau also has Dementia with the Parkinson's Pass the word around for me if you would and I can get all messages to Beau every day. He is staying near my home. Five-0 was such a huge part of his life and the cast and crew were like family to him. I would love to hear from some of Beau's old buddies so that I can pass on a hug to him from his friends. "
Katharine's fax number is 714-838-9684 and her email address is: email@example.com)
Calendars and Memorial Update
Thank you once again to everyone who purchased either the Jack Lord 2004 calendar and/or the Hawaii Five-0 4th Season calendar. I'll be sending another check off to the Memorial Committee in the amount of $250. I have recently heard from the committee members that the bust of Jack is coming along nicely. If I haven't already mentioned it, they found a young art student who is working devotedly on the project. She lives in Hawaii and has been in close contact with Doug Mossman and other committee members who are watching her work-in-progress. I know we have said this before, but hopefully the project will be completed very soon and everyone involved in the project thanks all the fans for their patience and support on this memorial to Jack.
Next issue: April, 2004