Remembering Jack Lord

Hawaii Five-0

World Premiere - February 19, 1968        Television Premiere - September 20, 1968       Series Premiere - September 26, 1968

...Jack Lord was Steve McGarrett,

and Steve McGarrett was the greatest television cop

of all time. 

(Meyers, Ric. Murder on the Air: Television's Great Mystery Series.

New York: The Mysterious Press, 1989, p. 152.)

Poster created by Jack Lord

...Mr. Ryan was and is a major influence in my life. I became a Law Enforcement Officer because of
his character on Hawaii Five O. I saw how he personified the character and I even developed my
methodology and demeanor of McGarrett. Many of my associates often called me McGarrett or
often just 5-0. My sister... told him that I was a huge fan and about my moniker in law enforce-
ment. She said he chuckled and extended his warmest wishes to me. I have always remembered
that. RIP, Mr Ryan.   (Tom B.)

Hawaii Five-0
is an award-winning police drama. Its prime-time run on CBS Television spanned 12 seasons. The world premiere of the pilot, "Cocoon," was shown by invitation only in a Honolulu theater on February 19, 1968. The pilot aired on national television on September 20th of the same year. The series began on September 26th with the airing of "Full Fathom Five" and ended on April 5, 1980, with the airing of "Woe to Wo Fat." Its re-runs began to be shown in syndication even before production ceased and continue to be shown to this day. Until 1993, when the original Law & Order series surpassed it, it was the longest-running police drama on American television. Today, it continues to enjoy enormous popularity through syndication, online viewing, and the release of remastered DVDs.


Five-0, as it is affectionately called, was groundbreaking in its day. Creator and executive producer, Leonard Freeman, wanted to make a series in Hawai'i. It is said that his mother-in-law lived in Honolulu, and with a series set there, he would be able to visit her more often. It is also said that Governor John A. Burns and the tourism board wanted the program to boost tourism in the islands. So did Jack. Read about his influence on where and how Hawai'i was shown to the viewing public:

At the same time, Governor John A. Burns (1962-1974), who began his career as a police officer and, later, a detective with the Honolulu Police Department, wanted to establish a state law enforcement unit. The unit would investigate complex crimes that were beyond the scope of local law enforcement agencies. His wish did not come true in real life, but it came very true in Hawaii Five-0.

In those days, the networks did not like to film on location any more than was necessary. Stirling Silliphant had shown that it could be done successfully with his series, Route 66, for which Leonard Freeman had written. Mr. Freeman managed to persuade the studio to let him film the pilot onsite, in our 50th state. Hawai'i had joined the Union only eight years earlier.

Mr. Freeman made contacts with and quickly won the support of government, business, and private individuals in Hawai'i. This made him aware of issues and conditions that could be included to truly site Five-0 in Hawai'i. This also allowed him to film in and around such historical sites as 'Iolani Palace. The Palace, then the state capitol building, had been the home of the last king of Hawai'i, David Kalakaua, and his sister and successor, Queen Lili'uokalani. And, so, in that day when the new state capitol building still was being constructed, Leonard Freeman sited Five-0's offices in the Palace, where the real-life offices of the governor and lieutenant governor, as well as the two houses of the legislature, were located.

When the preview was shown in Honolulu and New York, it  blew the rating sensors off the chart. Hawaii Five-0 would become a series! Even so, the studio was not convinced that the series needed to be filmed entirely in Hawai'i. Jack Lord, who portrayed Chief Investigator Steve McGarrett and held owner interest in the production, agreed with Mr. Freeman and insisted that the program be filmed entirely on location. With very few exceptions, it was.

Similarly, Mr. Freeman made connections with Mr. Chinn Ho, founder of the Ilikai Hotel. The Ilikai was Waikiki's first high-rise hotel, having opened in 1964 with 30 storeys and 1,050 guest rooms and apartments (now, condominiums). And, so, the star of the new show posed on the penthouse balcony in the opening sequence to welcome viewers to Hawai'i and to Hawaii Five-0.


Leonard Freeman, Creator of Hawaii Five-0

It would be a serious dereliction of duty to say so much about Hawaii Five-0 and so little about its creator, producer, and writer, Leonard Freeman. They say the good die young. Certainly that is true of Mr. Freeman, who passed away following heart surgery at the age of only 53. And, yet, when we look at his vast list of accomplishments, we know that he lived a very full life in those few years. Mr. Freeman, this page is offered in your memory.


Leonard Freeman was born on October 31, 1920, in Sonoma County, California. His career began at the Pasadena Playhouse, where he and actress Joan Taylor (nee Rose Marie Emma) were working to put on Here Comes Mr. Jordan.

Freeman began his career as a television actor in 1951, first appearing in the Fireside Theatre and The Lone Ranger, among others.

He began writing in 1952 with the stories for Steel Town and The All American. Soon, he was writing for Four Star Playhouse, Lassie, Men of Annapolis, and others.

In 1961, Freeman began producing television programs with an episode of Route 66. Over the next twelve years, he produced or served as executive producer for television series (The Untouchables, Naked City, Cimarron Strip, Storefront Lawyers), made-for-television movies (Visions, Cry Rape), and a motion picture (Hang 'Em High).

Far and away Freeman's best-known achievement was Hawaii Five-0. He created the series and served as executive producer for 129 episodes and as producer for 5 episodes during the series' first six seasons. He was responsible for Five-0's being filmed in Hawai'i, and he was responsible for making contact with governmental and business leaders and with citizens who acquainted him with the Hawaiian Islands, their personalities, and their issues.

Freeman was nominated three times for Emmy Awards: in 1955, for "Best Written Dramatic Material" for Four Star Playhouse; in 1965, for "Outstanding Program Achievements in Entertainment" for Mr. Novak; and in 1973, for "Outstanding Drama Series - Continuing" for Hawaii Five-0.

Leonard Freeman died on January 20, 1974, soon after filming was concluded for the sixth season of Five-0. He died in Palo Alto, California, as the result of complications from heart surgery. He was survived by his wife, Rose Freeman, and three daughters, Lisa, Robin, and Susan.

After his death, Freeman's name in the credits on Hawaii Five-0 ceased to appear as "Leonard Freeman, Executive Producer" and appeared as "Developed by Leonard Freeman Productions."

Rose Freeman Credited Jack with the Survival of Hawaii Five-0

From an interview with Emme Tomimbang on Emme's Island Moments, "Memories of Hawaii Five-0" (Emme, Inc. / KGMB-TV, 1996):

Emme Tomimbang: Your husband died during open-heart surgery in the fifth season, but [Hawaii Five-0] continued to live for six more years after that. That must say a lot about him for you.

Rose Freeman: It says a lot about him, and it also says a lot about Jack Lord. Jack kept the show going. He is a perfectionist, and I thank him for it.

Behind the Scenes