And That's a Wrap!
Hawaii Five-0 took a heavy toll on its
executive producer / director / star.
In December 1979, Hawaii Five-0 ended production after 12 seasons had passed and 284 hours of film had been processed for airing. The final episode would not air until April 5, 1980, nearly four months after the last episode had been shipped to California to be processed, the lights had been extinguished, and the last bit of stage pancake had been removed. In some ways, it was a happy day; after all, twelve years is a very long time to do any one thing, especially when the work week comprises 80 hours, the series creator has passed away, and everyone from the guest stars to the directors must be imported from the mainland. In other ways, it was a sad day; after all, in twelve years, people cease being co-workers and become family. Family partings are especially great sorrow.
Of those who began working together in the pilot episode, "Cocoon" in December 1967, only two remained, the protagonist, Steve McGarrett, and the antagonist, Wo Fat. Perhaps, that is the reason that only they (aside from guest stars) appeared in the series finale, "Woe to Wo Fat." It was, after all, only fitting that McGarrett completed the task he had set out to accomplish in the series pilot: To put Wo Fat behind bars.
Herman Wedemeyer did not appear in the pilot episode, but he did appear in all twelve seasons. He started as Lt. Balta in two episodes of Season 1 and portrayed four other characters before, in "I Want Some Candy and a Gun That Shoots" (Season 4), he became known to us as "Duke," an HPD sergeant. It wasn't until "While You're at It, Bring in the Moon" (Season 4) that Mr. Wedemeyer began portraying the semi-regular Duke Lukela. At first, Duke was the HPD's liaison to Five-0. After the departure of Detective Ben Kokua (Al Harrington) Duke became a detective with Five-0. In all, Mr. Wedemeyer appeared in 155 episodes.
Of course, we must not forget the governor. Although Richard Denning did not appear in the pilot, nor did he portray the same character, he did appear in all 12 seasons. Initially, Mr. Denning portrayed Federal treasury agent Phil Gray. Only later did he begin playing the role of Governor Paul Jameson, the role that he would play throughout the remainder of the series. It is worth noting that Mr. Denning appeared without the benefit of a contract for all 12 seasons. If he was free when the casting director called, he flew in from his home on Maui to film his scenes. If he was not free, the script was rewritten to show McGarrett speaking to the governor by telephone without ever showing the governor. In all, Mr. Denning appeared in 73 episodes.
James MacArthur, who portrayed Detective Dan "Danno" Williams, remained for 11 of the 12 seasons, although he did not appear in the pilot episode, "Cocoon." At the end of Season 11, everyone felt the series had ended. And, so, when everyone was called back to make Season 12, it was no great surprise that Mr. MacArthur already had made other plans. Of course, nothing worked quite right without Danno as McGarrett's second-in-command.
Kam Fong Chun, who portrayed Detective Chin Ho Kelly, remained for 10 seasons. He chose to retire when he reached his 60th birthday. Of course, no one could blame him, but he was very sorely missed. Everyone loved Chin Ho.
Peggy Ryan portrayed the governor's secretary, Mildred / Milly, in Season 1 and Steve McGarrett's secretary, Jenny Sherman, in Seasons 2 through 8. In all, she appeared in 49 episodes. In real life, Peggy Ryan was married to Honolulu Advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman, who appeared in several episodes, sometimes as himself.
That takes care of the Five-0 Team. You can read more about the characters and the actors who portrayed them in McGarrett's Team.
When Hawaii Five-0 ended production, Jack Lord wrote in a letter to a fan that he would never act in another series. It was too demanding and too draining. He wrote that letter in August 1980, eight months after the show wrapped. We, his fans, still miss him, of course. It is not easy for us to remember that acting was Jack's career, not his life. His first love in this life was Marie. His second love was art. Acting was only his third love. We can be thankful that he left us so many wonderful hours of film, videotape, and DVDs that allow us to spend more time with him.
Mahalo nui, Jack.
Aloha ke akua.