THE HAWAII FIVE-0 NEWSLETTER
Volume 3 October, 2006
MAHALO CON REVISITED, TEN YEARS LATER
By Jerry Pickard, email@example.com
(Note: in the fall of 1996, the first 'formal' get-together of Five-0 performers or other principals, and fans, took place in both California and Hawai'i. Some highlights are remembered below, along with perspectives on the event's significance.)
This look-back is being written for those who were there - and those who were not but who would have liked to attend. It is largely my personal reminiscence, dedicated to everyone with a Five-0 connection, big or little. There is very special but sad recall of the too many who have passed away since. May their unique personalities and wonderful talents, which touched numerous people all over, always live on. And aloha nui loa to those we're still lucky to have around...including frequent episode writer Jerome Cooper-Smith. He had sent along a very nice letter, which was included in the packets received by attendees ten years ago. A call to him in September 2006 during a visit to New York, confirmed he is still well and busy, with recent radio-play works completed. He ask me to convey his best wishes to all, recalling with affection his Five-0 contributions.
No mention of this truly epic event can be made without giving heartfelt credit to those who followed up on the convention idea and turned it into reality.
An off-hand remark by James MacArthur in the mid-90's got it all underway. He commented how great it'd be if the series' cast and crew could somehow reunite once more, almost 15 years after the show's first run was done. Rita Ractliffe picked up the ball, so to speak, and ran hard with it. Her superb efforts and tremendous hard work for this cause deserve very grateful recognition. Without her, it would not likely have taken place. It is hoped she may send along her own good memories of the event for us all to enjoy, too. Other key players include Karen Rhodes, Luis Reyes, Sylvia Stoddard, Kathy Harter and Doug Mossman. My apology to anyone else inadvertently overlooked, but somehow, with great kokua (help) yet amid very imposing hurdles - and plenty of uncertainties both pre- and post-, Mahalo Con magnificently happened.
Before proceeding, some thoughts from a couple of folks who were much involved:
Karen Rhodes, who heroically came to the Con's rescue just as the event could have collapsed administratively, and whose in-depth series account (Booking Hawaii Five-0: An Episode Guide and Critical History) would be published the following year, had this to say recently when asked what she most recalled about the event:
"Just the wonderful memories of the great Five-0 cast and guests. I loved the telegram from Bill Edwards, written in character as Jonathan Kaye. That was great! Doug Mossman 'talking story.' Kam Fong - he and his son Dennis were personally wonderful to me in their support. I remember Kam fondly, and think often of him. What a privilege that I got to know him. I also had a chance to meet Marie Lord and ask her to tell her husband 'thank you' on behalf of Five-0 fans the world over.
"There were four of us - Chip Copper, Debbie Coley, Tammy Jordan, and I - who made a tour of Oahu in Chip's rented car. We went all over the place: found Sunhala (Honore Vashon's estate) in Kahala, ate Spam musubi bought at a minute market, and ate box lunch at a local place.
"Oh yes, and my ride in Steve McGarrett's car, thanks to John Boley Nordlum.
"And one of the most fun moments was in Burbank, in the film room. Chip Copper, bless his heart, ran the room, and when I went up there, he was running 'The Box.' Only...it was in FRENCH! We started making jokes during the scene where "Big Chicken" is being his usual smarmy self, talking about wanting a steak and all. Someone - Chip, I think - said something about le hamburger. I said, 'Avec fromage,' and he pointed at McGarrett on the screen and said, 'Le Grand Fromage! So to us, for the rest of the time, Steve was Le Grand Fromage."
Dennis Chun offered these meaningful insights for all of us:
"It is hard to believe that a decade has passed since we all gathered together for Mahalo Con. Yet as one reflects on the passage of those ten years, one cannot help but be moved by how many we have lost during that short passage of time. Jack, Zulu, Herman Wedeymer, Moe Keale, Richard Denning, Buck Henshaw, Dad and others have left us. That sobering and sad fact only makes those moments we shared that much more meaningful.
"Your love and aloha let each of them know how much their work and efforts meant to you. I know that for my father, that fact was of great comfort to him in his last days. I shall always be grateful for the time we shared together both in Burbank and in Hawaii.
"But as we remember those moments we also need to focus on the future. With this in mind, I pray that the winds of Hawaii will guide all of you to safe shores, that the gentle mist of Manoa will ease your cares and that the rainbow will always lead you to the fulfillment of your dreams. Again thank you for sharing those moments; your aloha will always be deeply appreciated."
Your writer first heard of the possibility of Mahalo Con some eight months before it occurred. Intrigued by a chance article in The Vancouver Sun, about local BC guy Mike Quigley and his pioneering Internet coverage of numerous aspects of Five-0, I met with him mainly out of sheer curiosity. Some background: coincidentally, during the same month that the series debuted, I had just begun four years of study at the University of Hawai'i's then fledgling School of Travel Industry Management. But apart from passing exposure to occasional criticisms by some Hawai'i residents that the episodes were often far too violent and that the show portrayed the still very new State quite unfavourably, I gave it all little thought. Later, i.e. in the early 1990's when I started to develop a renewed and deep interest in the Islands (which I'd left in '72 but had returned to visit for vacation often), I caught Five-0 reruns from time to time. It was great fun seeing old scenery again as I'd known it and "re-living" some times of yore!
In any case, the odd notion of being a casual observer at something like Mahalo Con, took hold. A deposit was dispatched, and in due course, the time came to fly down to Los Angeles for the first part of the Convention. I'd never done anything like this "fanning" stuff before and mused to myself, what if it's just a big flop?
That was the last thing it was, as things turned out, thanks again in large measure to the organizers, especially Rita who saw it through from start to finish. Arriving at the Burbank Airport Hilton on the second day, Saturday, October 26th, I at once got caught up in the spirit of the phenomenon. There were screenings of selected episodes, like The Box and Bored She Hung Herself (yes, that rarity!), on antiquated 16 mm equipment-which added a certain dated quaintness. And there were continuations of audience participation panel discussions from the previous day, which involved beloved performers such as James MacArthur, Kam Fong, Zoulou, Sharon Farrell, etc. Statuesque Ron Feinberg, whom I well recalled from the zany Mary Hartman Mary Hartman soap spoof of the mid-70's, also took part, recalling his various guest roles in the series. (Who among us devotees can ever forget, for example, his portrayal of 'Benny' in Pray Love Remember Pray Love Remember? Classic!)
The repartee was fascinatingly absorbing, and before long it dawned on me that something absolutely extraordinary was "comin' down" this day. Too, displays of Five-0 memorabilia, lovingly amassed over a good number of years, along with autograph sessions with the "stars," interspersed with show-centered interaction among fellow-fans, all added immensely to the excitement of the experience. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin was there capturing it all as well, with Tim Ryan's presence and knowledgeable input.
But what really capped it all in Burbank for me at least, was the gala banquet that evening. By some super-humanly fortuitous circumstance, I found myself seated at a table with many of the Leonard Freeman family, including graciously effervescent Rose. She was radiantly ecstatic about the entire event, and offered several sharings. What is perhaps best recalled, though, was her observation about how important the Mahalo Con would be regarded by her children and grandchildren, in terms of Mr. Freeman's benchmark work in TV drama history.
Besides the inherent charm of my table-partners at this feast, there was hearing the reading of the Hawai'i Governor's Proclamation, honoring Five-0. And, speeches by the dignitaries present (amid plenty of good-natured jibing among the featured performers, such as must been a mainstay when the show was in production). An auction of some series-related items (scripts, etc.) rounded out the evening, with proceeds to benefit children's charity-work in Hawai'i. To this day, I cherish my copies of the final drafts of the scripts "Six Kilos" and "Legacy of Terror!"
I returned to Vancouver the next day, head buzzing from all the positive vibes of the Con's first part. But more was still to come.
A few days later, it was on to Honolulu where Doug Mossman, Margaret Doversola and other able souls presented Mahalo Con's second installment. It began with breakfast at the Ilikai on the Thursday, which coincided with Halloween (and Leonard Freeman's birthday). Once more, show personalities and others with Five-0 affiliation demonstrated their support by coming out, mingling with the fans and from all indications, having a good-fun time themselves. Again, local media were on-hand to capture the uniqueness of the occasion. Herman Wedemeyer, Harry Endo, Moe Keale, Margaret Doversola and Doug Mossman of course (from whom I bought a Mahalo Con t-shirt which I still prize), joined James MacArthur, Kam Fong, Zoulou, Dennis Chun and others; many also participated in the all-day motor coach ride to series-related locales and sites.
This bus trip was just awesome. I don't know who was driving the larger of the two Polynesian Adventure Tours vehicles, but the smaller one where I rode was being chauffeured by the hilarious Dick Kindelon who had had major casting responsibilities during Five-0's run. We went many places, including - but not limited to - I'olani Palace, the State Capitol, by the restaurant called Wo Fat, Punchbowl Cemetery, the Pali Lookout, Byodo-In Temple, Makapu'u, Hana'uma Bay, and the Lords' condominium complex. I met up with a local lady on the tour, Joyce, and quite by happenstance we discovered we have a mutual friend, a fellow with whom I once worked at Honolulu Airport. All three of us are still buds, and at this writing, I'm planning to attend her niece's wedding in Honolulu in October 2006!
The fan group split off in various directions over the next day or so, with organizers invited to take in the Five-0 Sound Stage dedication ceremony at the Diamond Head Film Studios. Others prowled Waikiki and environs, looking for familiar settings. And some were fortunate to ride in "McGarrett's Merc," still roadworthy at that time, thanks to Jack Lord's double John Nordlum to whom this car had been given when the show was pau.
On Saturday afternoon, November 2, there was the opportunity to visit the beautiful penthouse atop the Ilikai, where the opening shot of Jack Lord doing his famous twirl was filmed. The view, needless to say, was just spectacular. It became quite a photo-op session, with many of us seemingly replicating that spin til dizziness was imminent.
Not long after, the action shifted next door to the venerable Tahitian Lanai dining establishment, which adjoined the rustic Waikikian Hotel where I was staying. (Both were demolished not long after Mahalo Con, sadly.) Here, tables had been set up near the lagoon water's edge for a commemorative luau. Five-0'ers once more graced the event, with folks like Tom Fujiwara and Jimmy Borges joining the throng. It was a fully superb way to bring the excitement of the past week to a suitable close, with plenty of Island cuisine, talk-story, mele, hula and speeches. Moe's prowess with the ukulele and vocally, were truly "cheecken-skin" goose-bump inducing; the abilities of the cast, we all learned, went well beyond what was conveyed in the episodes. James MacArthur perhaps best of all, put the entire experience in perspective, when he conveyed that Five-0 was not just a TV series but a lasting creation perpetuated by 'ohana (family, both blood and kindred spirit), and that with luck, this was only the first Mahalo Con - there would be further such gatherings.
For sure there were, sort of, but this initial get-together and how it was organized/how it evolved, remain unsurpassed. Big mahalo to everyone, and most certainly to Rita Ractliffe.
Word from the Editor
In order to keep this issue going out on time, I was unable to add some pictures for the MahaloCon and anything that Rita might have sent. When I get Rita’s comments and ‘finally’ find the pictures I do have of the MahaloCon, I’ll probably be putting out a December issue.
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, http: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. I'm 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
2007 Calendars are ready
The Five-0 has screen captures from 12 different episodes from Season 6 and the Jack Lord has pictures of Jack. Both are printed on heavy-weight cardstock and have a spiral binding. The cost is $10 per calendar ($14.00 in US dollars outside the US) and that includes postage. I accept checks, money orders and Paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org). Checks are to be made out to me: Debbie Fitzgerald and sent to me at 682 Durham Road, Adams, TN 37010. Again, all proceeds will go to charity.
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. To mail your membership dues contact Annette Nixon through her email at Spinkick@colint.net and she will give you her address. Any additional financial contributions are always welcome. The newsletter will be available on the 15th of January, April, July and October.
Submissions for the newsletter are always welcomed and can be emailed to Terri Whitman at TW1151@Comcast.Net. Deadlines are one month before each issue.
See you in January, 2006
Be There! Aloha!