top of page

Questions & Answers


Jack waiting to go on the set of

Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot

Photographer unknown. Deemed to be in the public domain as per Circular 3, Copyright Office, Library of Congress, 2017.

Did You Know?

In Route 66 : Play It Glissando, Jack portrayed a trumpet player.

The song he was heard playing was used by ME-TV to advertise their Sunday

Night Noir series. Hear it on You Tube:  Watch the complete episode on YouTube for $1.99.


Quite often, people searching for information about Jack and Marie are directed to this site. I am generating this page to help answer a few of their questions. If you have questions or answers that are relevant to this page, please leave a note in the comments box at the bottom of the home page. Mahalo!


Why did Jack receive such bad press?

Jack received some very bad press, yet most of it centered around two things: 


First, no one knew he had financial interest and producer status in Hawaii Five-0. That made it only natural that critics would see him as an actor whose ego had become overly inflated. Ironically, he declined to announce his status on the show out of a desire to keep himself to himself, which was considered good manners in his day (and still should be).


Second was jealousy. In a field where unemployment is ninety-five percent, anyone who co-stars in two Broadway shows and appears in two movies with the legendary Gary Cooper, in the first James Bond movie, and in two television series, to say nothing of appearing for more than 60 years in Colonial Williamsburg’s orientation film, Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot, is going to bring out the green-eyed monster. 


Was Jack a recluse?

In the sense of living like a hermit, no! In Jack’s mind, he was an artist first and an actor second. He stated that he only entered acting as a way to make his name known in order to sell his paintings. Thus, when he retired from acting in 1980, he left public life in favor of the private life that most of us take for granted. Even so, he remained quite active in business and philanthropy for many years. Jack and Marie continued to entertain, albeit much less often and with a few close, personal friends, rather than business associates. They traveled to New York each fall and enjoying world travels. If he still had been a car salesman and had retired, no one would have thought anything of it. "Congratulations, old man! See you on the golf course." And that would have been that. 

Did Jack Lord believe he was really Steve McGarrett?

No, he did not. The proof is in a statement he made . . .

"...When your job, day in and day out, is dealing with human emotions -- love, hate, jealousy, anger, fear -- they sometimes rub off on your personal life. I'm an adult. Yet I spend six days a week, eight months a year, dressed up in someone else's clothes, playing a cop named Steve McGarrett. Then I'm supposed to just walk off the set, change clothes, and go away laughing. Well, I can't do that. Maybe others can. Not me, I'm too involved..."

Did Jack Lord give up on Hawaii Five-0 in Season 12?

No, he did not! He had asked CBS to let Season 11 be the last. He thought the series was over after Season 11. As any actor who puts himself into a role with the intensity that Jack did, he had to shake off McGarrett when filming ended. Thus, Jack had trouble recapturing Steve McGarrett when Season 12 began filming. It took him several episodes to get back into the part.

Nor did he turn his back on his Five-0 fans. Pictures exist of his returning waves from fans post-Five-0. He attended a Magnum, PI cast party and is seen in a photograph having a thoroughly good time with Larry Manetti (Rick) and Roger Mosley (TC). He attended a CBS party and is seen in a photograph hamming it up with Jamie Farr (Corporal Klinger on M*A*S*H). If someone called, "Hey, McGarrett!", he went along with it. That's who he was.

Jack never gave up on anything in his life. It wasn't in his belief system. Just as he put everything he had into his acting, he put everything he had into his art and humanitarian efforts. His father taught him to do his best at everything he took on -- and he did!

Was Jack angry when Kam Fong and James MacArthur left the show?

No. Kam turned 60 the year he left Five-0. It was understandable that he would be ready to leave the show. James MacArthur, like the other members of the cast and crew, believed the series to have ended with Season 11. As such, he had made other plans and was not available when he was called back for another season. Jack was not angry. He was, however, disappointed, for his team was gone. Five-0 would never be the same. That is not to say all was lost. McGarrett, Duke (Herman Wedemeyer), and Truck (Moe Keale) made a good team in Seasons 11 (Duke) and 12 (Duke and Truck). This is especially visible in Season 12's "Voice of Terror."

What did Jack's father do for a living?

That is a confusing point. Most sources say William Lawrence Ryan was a steamship executive; in fact, Jack said his father owned a fleet of five ship with the word "angel" in their names; e.g., "Arch Angel." Turner Classic Movies' (TCM's) biography of Jack goes a step further and says Jack worked as a freighter crewman on his father's ships during hiatus from school while he was a teenager.

But, then, there are the 1930 and 1940 census reports, which state that Jack's father worked as a "ship surveyor" and "clerical - shipping office," respectively. TCM stated that Mr. Ryan's business suffered badly during The Great Depression. That ties in with a statement Jack made that his father had made and lost two fortunes in shipping. 

Were Jack Lord and Robert Ryan brothers?

Although Jack had a younger brother named Robert, he was not an actor; therefore, he was not the man who portrayed Jack's character's father in God's Little Acre. That man was born in Chicago on November 11, 1909 and died in New York City on July 11, 1973.

Jack's brother Robert was a lawyer, who specialized in immigration law. He was born April 11, 1935, and died in Germantown, New York, on November 4, 2003. He left behind two children, Kelly and Patrick.

Did Jack Ever Appear on Magnum, PI?

No. Although Jack was approached by Belisarius Productions, which produced Magnum, PI, and was asked to appear, he did not. True Five-0 fans felt that McGarrett was going to appear at critical moments, but he never did. Even so, Five-0 was mentioned several times during Magnum's run, beginning in the pilot episode, "Don't Eat the Snow in Hawaii."

Did Jack Ever Sing Professionally?

Yes. After Stoney Burke ceased production, Jack took an intensive four-week vocal music course to prepare him to sing Western songs on the rodeo circuit. He formed a group called The Wanderers and went out to entertain the rodeo crowds, who were delighted to see Stoney Burke in person. He drew more people to the Sidney, Iowa, rodeo than anyone else since 1958. Jack said he earned $250,000 from this venture, a figure that is substantiated by the Sidney, Iowa, rodeo officials. The musical scores to six of the songs sold recently on Ebay. In addition, Jack sang several songs with Glen Campbell on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour in October 1971. He sang "Strawberry Roan" and "Blow the Main Down," among others.

Did Jack like living in Hawai'i?

Yes. So much did Jack come to love the Hawaiian Islands and her people that he became an avid scholar of Hawaiian history, customs, and traditions. He managed to learn a bit of the language, as well. Some of what he learned he passed along to us in episodes of Hawaii Five-0. An excellent example is "Descent of the Torches" (Season 10).

Where can I find a copy of Jack's book, Jack Lord's Hawaii?

I'm afraid I don't have the answer. I've been unable to find copies of it. Only a few references indicate he was working on it, although a visitor to this site wrote and told me that he once had owned a copy but had given it away. He has not written back to tell me whether he knows who published it.  I presume he does not. I contacted the Myopic Bookstore, a large antiquarian bookseller in Chicago, and asked them if they had any record of it. Here is their reply: "Unfortunately, I can find no record of a book with this title or subject matter having been published." I also perused the listings of a number of antiquarian booksellers, both stateside and in Europe, and neither Jack's name nor the title of the book appeared.

I came across a statement made by columnist Lawrence Laurent, referring to such a book but under a different name. Here is what he wrote: "Lord has published a Tourists Guide to the Islands. He wrote the text and illustrated the book with his own color photographs." (Laurent, Lawrence. "Jack Lord boss of Hawaii Five-0 both on and off television camera" in Windsor Star. January 15, 1972, p. 37.) Is this the same book or a different book? 

Jack's entry in Who's Who in the World (Vol. 3, Part 4, 1976-1977) mentions two books by Jack: Jack Lord's Hawaii and A Trip Through the Last Eden. The latter is said to have been published in 1971, yet, again, no search of antiquarian bookshops reveals it.

Conversely, Jack said the following in an interview with Tom Cavanaugh (publication data unknown):


"I've mentioned a book on several occasions and I'm often sorry that I did. At one time I felt I was close to publication and then I put it away for a while and later I was not satisfied with some of the things in it. It's a kind of love letter to the world about Hawaii and its people and our experiences down here. I want it to be just right. Maybe by next Christmas I'll have it ready."

Since we cannot find these books, we have no way of knowing whether they published. Perhaps, it/they never was/were published. Perhaps, it/they was/were published, but very few copies were printed. In any case, Jack seems to have left us with a very good mystery to solve.

One more thought on the subject:  In the Five-0 episode Double Exposure (Season 9), Danno is touring a local photography exhibition and gives little attention to Anne Waring's (Meg Foster) photographs of Hawaiian scenery. She asks him why. Doesn't he like them? He refers to them as postcard pictures and directs her to another photographer's work that shows street people and others going about their daily lives, photographs in the vein of Saul Leiter and Diane Arbus. Is it possible that publishers found Jack's photographs to be too much like postcards from Hawaii and declined to publish his book? I don't know if this is what happened, but I find myself wondering about it.

Where can I see Jack's paintings?

You can see some of his paintings on Hawaii Five-0. Start with the episode "Invitation to Murder" (Season 10). Most of the paintings in the Barlow home are Jack's. Then, watch "How to Steal a Masterpiece" (Season 7) and study the paintings around the top of the Ogdens' private gallery. They hang above the masterpieces of Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and others. Unfortunately, we see only a few snatches of them. In "'V' for Vashon" part 1, you will see two of Jack's works on the wall of Honore Vashon's living room leading to the front door. Study his painting style. In time, you will come to recognize his work when you see it; however, be forewarned: Jack painted in several different styles, and that makes it difficult to be certain that works are his.

What can you tell me about Jack's charcoal drawing of a New England farmhouse?

This is the question of the century. Jack entitled seriographs of this drawing "Sand Island," but there are no such structures on Sand Island and never have been. The general consensus is that it actually was drawn on Block Island, Rhode Island; however, since so much has changed since Jack drew it, Block Island does not look the way it once might have. One thing is for sure: It is a structure that would have existed in New England. There, houses sometimes led to storage areas, which led to barns to allow a farmer to do his work in wintertime without having to brave the elements. Similarly, New England fishing shacks look very much like the structure in this drawing.  A photograph was seen on Jack and Marie's estate auction website that showed Jack sitting on a highway post and drawing, while off in the distance was a farmhouse similar to the one in "Sand / Block Island." It was taken in the Hudson River Valley, where his maternal grandparents lived. Was it the same drawing? We may never know.

What is the meaning of "I Keep Six Honest Serving Men"?

Jack recited the first few lines of this poem by Rudyard Kipling in the Five-0 episode "Leopard on the Rock" (Season 2). It begins, "I keep six honest serving men / (They taught me all I knew) / Their names are What and Why and When /  And How and Where and Who." The poem comes from Kipling's book The Elephant Child. The six words (what, why, when, how, where, and who) are used by detectives, journalists, and writers to ensure they have covered all angles. McGarrett used the words to ensure that he and his detectives explored all angles of the case being investigated.

Is it true that Jack only hired actors with blue eyes?

Guy Aoki, who watched the original and rebooted episodes and counted heads, reported that, in the original Five-0, the Asians and Pacific Islanders outnumbered the mainlanders by as much as 40 percent to 50 percent! Now, why would anyone think Jack was biased? He grew up in Queens, then home to Irish, Poles, Italians, and Jews. A biased man there would soon find himself beaten to a pulp! As McGarrett so often said, "No chance!" In truth, Jack was a good man, who liked people from all backgrounds and spent twelve years teaching those without formal training to act so well that they could appear in a top-rated, internationally aired television series. Ain't no bias there, bruddah!

Why did Jack Lord insist on using Ford automobiles on Hawaii Five-0?

It has been said in numerous sources that he insisted on using Ford automobiles in the series. If that is true, it may have related to the fact that he sold Fords for the Horgan Ford dealership in New York while he was studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. On the other hand, Jack accepted the role of McGarrett on a Saturday and reported for filming on the following Monday. It is entirely possible that contracts for cars already had been arranged before he joined the series. Having said that, let me add this: I've noticed that Fords were used in quite a few movies and television shows in that time period. My guess is that Ford made better deals with the studios than did the other car manufacturers.


Is it true that Jack did not get along with Gary Cooper when they appeared together in Man of the West? 

No. They were good friends. Jack met Gary Cooper in the automotive showroom, where he (Jack) worked. Cooper stopped by to admire an old Duesenberg, which was on display. They talked cars and went to lunch together. A few years later, when Jack and Marie moved to Hollywood, Gary Cooper recognized Jack and helped him get roles in The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell and Man of the West. Gary Cooper was a role model for Jack until his death in 1961. Jack admired Coop's laid-back method of acting and used it in Stoney Burke, the later seasons of Hawaii Five-0, and possibly in other productions, as well.

Why did Jack leave acting so abruptly?

Actually, he didn't leave abruptly. Hawaii Five-0 ended production at the end of 1979, with the last episode being aired on April 5, 1980. Initially, Jack's plans were to start another series, M Station: Hawaii, playing a cameo role as Admiral Henderson in Washington and assigning tasks to the M Station team in Hawaii, as well as producing and directing. When the networks failed to pick up the show as a series, he decided that it was time to move in a different direction. Jack then focused on his art and photography, his investments, and his humanitarian and philanthropic efforts. Most of all, he focused on Marie.

Was Jack Religious?

Yes. Jack was reared in the Catholic Church and attended elementary school at  church-owned St. Benedict Joseph Labre Catholic School in Queens, New York. Even today, according to the Adherents website, the Catholic Church considers Jack to have been an adherent to the Church. Throughout his life, Jack read his Bible, as well as the writings of theologians and religious writers. He is known to have read the writings of Christian Science healer Mary Baker Eddy.

Most importantly, he lived the life of one who adheres to Judeo-Christian principles: doing for others and giving selflessly. The people of Hawaii continue to benefit from the large financial legacy he left to them. Indeed, we all continue to benefit from the legacy of lessons learned and fatherly advice that he left to us.

Why did Jack change his name?

He didn't, not legally. His name remained John Joseph Patrick Ryan throughout his life. Because someone else had registered the name "Jack Ryan" with the actor's union, he had to take a different stage name. According to statements he made, he drew from his family tree and became "Jack Lord." 

What color were Jack Lord's eyes?

I don't know. In most instances of Hawaii Five-0, they are blue; however, in several episodes, including "The Silk Trap" (Season 10), they appear to be brown. Similarly, in some photographs, they appear too dark to be blue, even though the color cannot be determined. So, again, I don't know what color Jack's eyes were.

Did Jack have a face lift?

No official statement was ever released about it, but those who appeared with Jack on Hawaii Five-0 say he did. Certainly, his appearance changed between Seasons 1 and 2.

Did Jack use a hairpiece?

According to Cherie Huffman, who styled Jack's hair, Jack "...did not wear a wig; he just liked his hair neat..." (Huffman, Cherie. Fondling Follicles of the Rich and Famous: Hollywood Hair Stylist. Haverford, PA: Infinity Press, 2001, p. 59.). Dennis Donnelly, who appeared in six episodes of Hawaii Five-0 and sat in the adjacent chair in the hairstyling / makeup room, confirms that Jack's hair was his own.

Was Jack's hair curly or straight?

In his early pictures, his hair appeared to be very curly, yet in his middle years, his hair appeared to be straight.  In his later years, his hair appeared to be curly, but not as curly as in his early pictures. So, what's the story? Did he use a hair straightener? Did his hair change over time? Does anyone know the answer to this question?

Did Jack Lord wear makeup?

Yes. All actors wear makeup while performing and appearing in public.

Did Jack have tattoos all over his arms?

No. His arms were hairy, but they were not tattooed.

Did Jack have rheumatoid arthritis?

If so, he never mentioned it publicly. Still, evidence existed that he may have; for example, his fingers were bent in the way of one who has rheumatoid arthritis. Five-0 expert Karen Rhodes addressed the issue in an article entitled "Karen Rhodes' Theory Time." She wrote, in part (1997) . . .

"I began looking more closely at his hands. At times they appear pretty much normal. At times, though, his mid-finger knuckles (second metacarpals, for you medically-oriented ones) look swollen, enlarged. The joints at the base of his fingers (third metacarpals) also at times look swollen and red. This is diagnostic for arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, which I have had for 9 years now, does this -- it has exacerbations (bad times) and remissions (good times). His hands show that typical pattern. I wrote to another fan I know who is a registered nurse and who worked for 10 years in orthopedics, telling her my observations and asking her if she thought he might have arthritis. Her response was, 'I'm 99% sure he does.'"

While Ms. Rhodes did not claim to have all the answers, her theory seems highly plausible.

Did Jack have Alzheimer's?

If so, he never mentioned it publicly, and Marie flatly denied it. What we do know is that Jack had congestive heart failure in which the weakened heart has trouble pumping oxygenated blood to all parts of the body, including the brain. We also know that medicine prescribed for congestive heart failure can affect mental acuity. Similarly, medicine prescribed for arthritis can have this effect. You can read more about it in "Karen Rhodes' Theory Time" (1997) . . .

"Now some people NOT very close to him have apparently said -- though this has nothing more than the status of rumor -- that he seems "out of it" at times. If he does have severe arthritis, he has certainly gone way beyond the simple non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications that patients at my stage of arthritis routinely take. He's probably into some pretty heavy stuff, not only for the arthritis, but for the pain, and let me tell you, arthritis can be excruciatingly painful. Anyone taking such medications would seem "out of it" from time to time, and I think this is the origin of the stupid Alzheimer's rumor."

There are just too many plausible explanations. As such, I have decided to accept Marie's word for it: No, Jack definitely did not have Alzheimer's.

Did Jack wear shoe lifts?

Yes and no. In his personal life, he did not wear shoe lifts, although he did wear cowboy boots. As McGarrett, he did use lifts. According to RJL member, LordHowitHurtz . . .

"I own a pair of show-worn boots that have lifts in them. I purchased one of [Jack Lord's] suits (including shirt, tie and boots) on Ebay back in 2007...the clothes he wore in the final episodes, when he finally captured the evil Wo Fat. They were size 11 boots... So, after opening the box and slipping on the boots, I stood up and almost fell.   . . . I felt around and was able to pull [the lifts] out.  They are an inch and a half thick, . . . marked DiFabrizio Shoe, 8216 West 3rd St., Los Angeles, Cal, 655-5248, and on the bottom, they are marked "blizzard.' They are not the normal Florsheim boots. The other suit I purchased comes with a pair of Florsheims, and they do not have lifts in them." 

​McGarrett was to be seen as larger than life. Thus, he was a graduate of the US Naval Academy and a highly trained intelligence officer in the US Navy Reserve. He wore his hair high atop his head, bulky wool suits that made him look more broad-shouldered, and shoe lifts that made him look taller than nearly everyone around him.  In addition, he drove large, black cars that stood out in a crowd. He had the big office. He dated the prettiest ladies and dined in the finest restaurants. He could recite poetry and Bible verses with ease. He was adept at playing the guitar, sailing, and golfing, and he learned to play a fair game of tennis. In short, there was very little that Stephen J. “Aloysius” McGarrett couldn’t do. He was, indeed, larger than life. In addition, McGarrett wore Florsheim dress boots with 2-inch heels.


Was Jack Lord gay?

No. He was married twice, first for four years to the woman who bore his son, and, then, to Marie for 49 years, 4 days, until his death. On many occasions, Jack called Marie "...the bride of my youth who abides me still."  It was written into Jack's contract that, if he had to travel, Marie went with him. Upon Jack's death, Marie aged drastically, giving evidence that she had lost her mission in life. The literature does not even hint at homosexuality. Jack was exactly who he purported to be, a man who worked hard by day and went home to his wife at night.

Did Jack Drink?

He drank wine when he and Marie went out to dinner or had dinner with friends. Obviously, since he had to watch his weight -- and produce a series -- he did not overindulge. 

Why didn't Jack and Marie have children?

The official word from Jack and Marie was that they wanted to be free to focus on his acting career. Another possible reason, however, is Marie's age. Born in 1905, she was fifteen years older than Jack, 43 years old in January 1949, when they were married. By the mid-1950s, when Jack's career began to catch on, she was about 50 years old. In short, she was too old to begin a family. Of course, people didn't discuss such things in their day. 

What Can You Tell Me About Jack's Hats?

The sun is bright in Hawai'i; after all, as Steve McGarrett said more than once, Hawai'i is just above the 20th parallel. To protect himself from the sun, Jack (and sometimes, McGarrett) wore lauhala hats. Some of these hand-woven Hawaiian hats resemble Panamanian plantation hats, while others seem quite indigenous to the islands. See how they are woven:

Did Jack paint the portrait of Mrs. Mondrago that we saw in "Highest Castle, Deepest Grave" (Season 4)?

No. The portrait was painted by Hollywood artist Rosemary Caulder. (Many thanks to Steve's Girl)


Is it true that Jack Lord was the least popular actor in Hollywood circles?

Such has been said. We need to remember, however, that, under the old studio system, an actor was under long-term contract to a studio; was trained by it; and worked only for it, unless the studio agreed to loan him to another studio. In short, the actor was the studio's property as surely as the buildings in which the studio filmed. The studio demanded complete loyalty and strict obedience. An actor who asked questions or made suggestions was seen as a trouble maker. Jack did ask questions and make suggestions for how to improve the productions on which he worked. As such, he remained an independent actor, rather than a studio star. Interestingly, his questions and suggestions helped Leonard Freeman launch Hawaii Five-0 and to keep the show going after Freeman's death in mid-series.

Were Jack Lord and Paul Burke friends?

If not friends, then they certainly respected each other as actors. In addition to two episodes of Hawaii Five-0, "The Gunrunner" and "The Moroville Covenant", they appeared together in shows in which Paul Burke starred, 12 O'Clock High ("Big Brother" and "Face of a Shadow") and The Naked City ("The Human Trap"). 


*  Jack's dressing room, used when he was on location, filming Hawaii Five-0, was a lavish motor home. It was 30 feet long and weighed 16,000 pounds; featured a bedroom, dressing room with make-up area, a kitchen, stereo, two air conditioners, and a water purifier; and had multiple telephones, including a direct line to the West Coast. 

*  Paul Denis, who wrote for the New York Times and freelanced for various entertainment publications, was a good friend of Jack's; in fact, he and his wife, Helen, were close personal friends of Jack and Marie's. From time to time, Paul dropped a word to Jack, letting him know about upcoming auditions. At other times, he put in a plug for Jack in one of the entertainment publications, such as TV World. Jack and/or Marie always wrote back to thank him for his help in getting Jack's career off to a good start. Even after Jack and Marie moved to California, the two couples remained friends, and Paul continued to put in a good word for Jack. This information is verified by letters and postcards written by Jack and Marie in 1956, 1957, and 1958, which have been sold on Ebay.

*  In a memo to Paul Denis, dated 23 May 1958, Jack revealed the fact that he had hired public relations man, J. Les Kaufman, with Don Fedderson Productions, to work for him. Don Fedderson Productions created numerous television programs on CBS Television in the 1950s and 1960s. 

*  In a postcard to Paul Denis, dated 1956, while Jack was still living in New York, he wrote, "Out here [Los Angeles] to finish up on 'The Williamsburg Story.'" That movie is still shown daily at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor's Center.

*  Several years before Hawaii Five-0, Jack worked with Leonard Freeman on an unsold television pilot entitled Grand Hotel. According to Leonard Freeman in an interview on the PBS special Hawaii Now: Hawaii Five-0  (1972), he had been unable to find the actor he wanted to portray Steve McGarrett. His casting director called and asked if he could send Jack over for a reading. Freeman replied that he didn't need to meet Jack; he already knew him from Grand Hotel. He instructed the casting director to send a script to Jack with the message that, if Jack liked the script, the role was his. The rest, as they say, is history.

*  In 1972, in Liliha, Jack signed an autograph for pre-schooler Kelly Hu, then 4 years old. He was the first actor she ever had met, and she became completely smitten. She also became determined to become an actress. Now, she is. She has appeared in The Tournament, Vampire Diaries, X-Men 2, The Scorpion King, NCIS, Army Wives, and the Five-0 remake. We just never know whose life we will influence. If Ms. Hu's performance in NCIS ("Endgame," Season 7) is any indication, she is every bit the actress her mentor clearly inspired her to be. (Thanks, SG) 

*  Jack is reputed to have spent every Saturday morning at the tables in front of Safeway (grocery store). He wore a lauhala hat and a sweater and smiled at everyone who acknowledged him.

*  Jack and Marie's wedding rings and marriage license sold on Ebay for $4,050, in March 2007. 


bottom of page