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TVue One (19 March 1972)

“James MacArthur Ga-Ga Over Hawaii”

by Richard K. Shull

When it comes to ego-building, there’s nothing quite like having a major part in the only show in town.

That’s the kind of fame and fun James MacArthur enjoys these days as the second banana in the highly successful CBS television series, Hawaii Five-O.

MacArthur, the 34-year-old son of Helen Hayes and the late playwright Charles MacArthur, is happily settled in a condominium apartment beneath Diamond Head overlooking the Pacific on Oahu.

And it doesn’t bother him that a glance over his right shoulder at home would reveal a panorama of rampant commercialization and exploitation known as Waikiki.

“There’s one belt of hotels,” MacArthur said in defense of his new state, “but the rest of Hawaii is beautiful.

“Some people say Hawaii is spoiled, but I don’t think so. It’s modern. It’s a part of today’s world. I guess they want the natives to live in grass shacks. Well, the natives want washing machines and refrigerators and TV sets the same as anyone else. They don’t want to be quaint anymore,” he said.

MacArthur was talking in New York, where he’d stopped over after a quickie trip to Europe during a break in production of the show. That’s why he was talking.

In Hawaii, it’s no secret in the trade, the star of the show, Jack Lord, who has an ego big as the whole blue Pacific, does all the talking for Hawaii Five-O.

In Hawaii, Hawaii Five-O is an immensely popular show and anyone connected with it is some kind of folk hero. The program gets about 80 percent of the available audience during its weekly hour. Much of that is curiosity, since the program is filmed entirely in the Islands with scenery and people familiar to residents of Hawaii.

MacArthur’s part in the show is no big thing. Lord is THE star and for the most part, MacArthur contents himself with saying variations of “What will we do now, chief?”

He sidelines with a partnership in a travel company which features tours of the Islands and the Oahu nightlife.

MacArthur has been in Hawaii for four years now. At first, he admitted he had claustrophobia -- a common ailment among mainlanders who move there - “but after awhile you get used to it. And after four years, I thoroughly enjoy Hawaii and the success of the show.”

So how does he explain the success of Hawaii Five-O, which, after all, is basically a potboiler detective show?

“Once you’re a winner, you can give all sorts of reasons why you’re a winner. Of course, you could all those same reasons to explain why a show fails,” he replied, indicating one doesn’t ask questions, one enjoys.

Among other things, he said Hawaii Five-O now is distributed to 10 foreign countries. In Europe he discovered he had fans he wasn’t aware existed.

James MacArthur

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