What are your hobbies?
Reading is something I've enjoyed since I first picked up a book; I'm never without a book or a magazine close at hand. I'm also a gourmet cook and spend many hours every week pottering around in the kitchen putting together interesting and fun things. I like to play golf and tennis, listen to music, and maybe watch the occasional movie. I've never spent a lot of time watching movies or television, but I've just recently had a marvelous home theatre system installed in my house and though I haven't had the chance to use it much, what I have seen has astounded me. I've amassed quite a collection of my own and my parents' works and I'm greatly looking forward to viewing them on my new system.
Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?
Like many people, whatever author I'm currently reading is generally the first name that comes to mind when I'm asked to list favorites. Right now it's Tony Horwitz and his wonderful exploration of the life of Captain Cook in his book Blue Latitudes. Other favorites include Edward Rutherfurd, Simon Brett, Ellis Peters, Patrick O'Brian, and the writings of Thomas Jefferson. Two writers of my youth who were very influential were G.A. Henty and Peter B. Kyne. As far as types of literature, I like both fiction and nonfiction. Some of the most enjoyable reads I can remember are fictional works based on historical facts and/or the lives of great people; biographies and autobiographies, especially those of lesser-known individuals; and nonfiction works that contain observations of our times, whether from a political, economic, anthropological, or other viewpoint. I like to be challenged and intrigued by what I read; therefore, anything of a thought-provoking nature will get my full attention.
What are your favorite movies?
Just about anything with Sir Alec Guinness gets my vote, particularly Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Naturally, some of my own work ranks high on the list, as does that of my parents and my godmother, Lillian Gish. I could probably make a list a mile long if I really thought about it, but a few other titles that come to mind include Bridge on the River Kwai and The Third Man, as well as many other classics from the 30's and 40's. Although I'm not as thrilled with most newer movies, Robert Downey, Jr.'s outstanding performance in the title role of Chaplin is an exception to the rule, as is Master and Commander: Far Side of the World.
How can I get an autograph?
I am unable to respond to the requests I receive from fans at my home or via email. However, I try to make public appearances a few times a year so that I can meet the many wonderful fans in person and give an autograph then. My future public appearances will always be listed here.
Where can I send a fan letter?
If you have been able to locate my home address, I would prefer that you respect my privacy and that of my family and not use it to send fanmail. I prefer to be contacted through the internet. My email address is JamesMacArthur@jmdigitalscrapbook.com. I do answer all emails I receive.
I am a professional and would like to discuss an acting job with you. How can I contact you?
You may use the same email address listed above: JamesMacArthur@jmdigitalscrapbook.com.
Which of your performances were your favorites?
On the stage, I much preferred comedic roles to the more serious ones, such as those in Bedfull of Foreigners and Murder at the Howard Johnson's. In movies it's hard to compare a small picture like The Young Stranger to a sweeping epic like Battle of the Bulge or Swiss Family Robinson. Each was fun in its own way. I can't really rank any one over all the others. Even something as brief as the Preacher in Hang 'Em High or the Census Taker in Ride Beyond Vengeance, each only a few days' work, were rewarding in their own right. On television, I liked the majority of the guest roles I played, especially Rodger Young, Tarzan, The Untouchables, The Innocent Assassin, and Tongues of Angels, and of course Deal A Blow. My stint on Vegas was not among my favorites, nor was Murder, She Wrote. Then, of course, as a regular on Five-O for many years, being Danno became as comfortable as wearing a favorite old pair of shoes.
With which actors did you most enjoy working?
Well, the list I'll give you is huge and I'm sure I'll leave out some dear people who should be there; nevertheless, the memory is only as good as it is, so here goes: John Mills, William Shatner, Stefanie Powers, Susan Oliver, Bo Svenson, Dick Powell, Kim Hunter, Jim Daly, Jessica Tandy, Tommy Kirk, Janet Munro, Fess Parker, Carol Lynley, Wendell Corey, JoAnne Dru, John MacIntire, Finley Currey, John Laurie, Peter Finch, Whit Bissell, Jim Gregory, Piper Laurie, Franchot Tone, Harry Andrews, David Tomlinson, Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara, Dorothy McGuire, Kevin Corcoran, Raphael Campos, Michael Rennie, Sidney Poitier, Wally Cox, Hayden Rourke, Mimsy Farmer, Van Heflin, Ed Lauder, Telly Savalas, Buddy Ebsen, Anne Archer, Joe Pantoliano, Nick Adams, Jack King, Cliff Robertson, Mickey Callan, Kurt Russell, Peggy Lipton, Celeste Holm, Eileen Heckert, Jane Fonda, Margaret O'Brien, Robert Stack, Jackie Cooper, Michael Landon, Ron Ely, Geoffrey Holder, Dick Powell, Sidney Clute, Cybill Shephard, Ben Gazzara, Chuck Connors, Paul Burke, Donna Pescow, Eva La Gallienne, Frances Starr, Howard Lindsey, Dorothy Stickney, Helen Hayes, Leopaldo Salcedo, Ed Flanders, Herbert Lom, Mark Goddard, Richard Todd, Jan Sterling, and Hayley Mills. The overwhelming majority of people with whom I worked were wonderful, warm, dear people and actors. Rather than continue with the copious list of those I did enjoy, it would be easier for me to point out the few I didn't; however, I won't.
With which directors did you most enjoy working?
Ken Annakin, who remains to this day a close friend, was probably my biggest favorite. There are some directors with whom I was more in tune than others, but it doesn't mean their work wasn't as good as another director, so I can't really single out anybody as not enjoyable.
Why did you leave Hawaii Five-O before it ceased production? Do you ever wish you'd stayed on for the final season?
Quite frankly, I grew bored. After Leonard Freeman died, the series began to stagnate. It had started out very fresh and 'cutting edge' with stories and villains relevant to the times, but this did not continue once he was gone. The stories became more bland and predictable and presented less and less challenge to me as an actor. I haven't seen much of the 12th season, but no, I don't have any regrets about leaving when I did.
I've heard that Jack Lord was really hard to work with. Was that true?
Perhaps it was for some, but I never had any difficulties working with Jack. He was a consummate professional who always came to work fully prepared. This was also important to me, so we always got along just fine. Jack was very perfectionistic and always demanded the best from himself and the people around him. He had little tolerance for those who didn't hold themselves to the same high standards, which is probably where the rumors of him being difficult to work with got started. I always respected Jack's sense of purpose and, although he was sometimes more outspoken about it than I was, I agreed with him in that attitude.
What were your favorite episode(s) of Hawaii Five-O and why?
I think Three Dead Cows at Makapuu was one of the best shows we ever did. It was a tight story, full of intrigue, human drama, and a gripping race against time. The 'villain' of the piece wasn't really a bad guy, but simply a man who had gotten caught up in events beyond his control. Not only that, but it was one of several opportunities I had to work with Ed Flanders, a talented actor whose skills I admire very much and who became a good friend. I also enjoyed Pig in a Blanket because it provided a lot of insight into the character of Dan Williams and gave me a chance to stretch as an actor. Other favorites were Over Fifty? Steal and Odd Man In because I got to work with Hume Cronyn, who is an extraordinary actor and a fine gentleman. Of course, Retire in Sunny Hawaii Forever is high on my list because it was one of the rare times I got to work with my mother. We had quite a lot of excellent opportunities to work with exceptional writers, actors, and directors throughout the run of Five-O; if I listed every one of them here, I'd never finish!
Speaking of Retire in Sunny Hawaii Forever, there's a line Aunt Clara, the character portrayed by your mother, delivers early in the episode which seemed as though it might have been unscripted. It occurs when Danny meets her at the airport and she chides him for having gained a little weight. Was that line ad libbed?
I'd have to watch that episode again to be sure, but it sounds like my mother's sense of humor. She was quite well known for her ability to throw in ad libs during rehearsal that my father used to say were better than anything a writer could have given her, and these would frequently end up in the final version. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that line was her own invention.
Do you still keep in touch with other actors from Hawaii Five-O?
Yes, although not as much as I would like. We are all growing older and have our own busy lives, but I talk with many of them, particularly Beau Van den Ecker, Zulu and Kam Fong, whenever we have the chance. [Webweaver's note: The answer to this question was prepared prior to the passing of Kam Fong and Zulu.]
I've read that you have traveled all over the world. What are some of your favorite places?
I never get tired of visiting London, though I've been there more times than I can count. I also enjoyed tremendously the five months I spent driving from London all the way to the bottom of Africa, and my three-week trip to the Soviet Union in the late 1950s. My favorite places are those which are 'off the beaten track' or not listed in the usual top 10 must-see list of guidebooks. I like to get a real feel for the places I visit, meet the locals, and spend time just soaking up the atmosphere. Museums and monuments are all well and good, and I enjoy visiting them, but the real pleasure for me is in just strolling down the streets, peeking into the shop windows and browsing through the bookstores.
Is there anywhere you haven't been that you'd like to visit?
This sounds a little silly, but I've never been to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I hope to remedy that before too much longer.
What are your favorite foods?
I don't really have a particular favorite as long as it's well prepared and well presented. I've often joked that I'm a human garbage disposal when it comes to foods; there's virtually nothing I won't eat and don't enjoy. Since I love to cook, and do it as often as I can, I'm always experimenting and trying new things. I do some Japanese cooking such as sukiyaki as well as clay pot cooking in which you can do most anything well from fish to lamb to chicken. There isn't anything you can't do well in that, actually. Caesar salad is one of my specialties. I also enjoy preparing oxtail, not as a soup but fried. Currently, I've just had a new barbecue installed at my home and gotten a wonderful book full of unusual and exotic recipes. I can't wait to try them!
What kind of music do you like? Do you have any favorite performers?
As with my food preferences, my music preferences tend to run the gamut. I like just about anything, as long as it's not too jarring, like rap or heavy metal. The CD which I can't seem to stop playing when I'm in the car is one by Phil Coulter, a wonderful Irish singer and songwriter who really has an extraordinary talent for synthesizing with just a few words and notes a whole range of thoughts and feelings. Two of his songs in particular -- The Old Man and The Town I Love So Well -- are among my favorite pieces. At home, I often enjoy playing something from my extensive vinyl record collection. I'm especially fond of my collection of flamenco records and I listen to those often.
What kind of car do you drive?
I usually drive a GMC Yukon Denali. I also sometimes drive a Lexus LX.
Who was your favorite villain on Hawaii Five-O?
Which type of role do you prefer to play: good guy or bad guy?
I don't really have a preference per se, so long as the role is meaty and realistic. Oftentimes, the 'bad guy' seems to have a more dramatic role, so I do enjoy those, but a well-developed and well-written 'good guy' is just as enjoyable.
If they really do another movie version of Hawaii Five-O and you are offered a part, will you take it?
I really don't think that's in the cards. I think any future Hawaii Five-O movie will take on a very different tone, and I don't think there will be any room for the original cast.
If you weren't an actor, what other job would you like to have?
It's hard to answer a question like that because I always knew I'd eventually end up acting. Although I did other things early in my career such as lighting, sound, and electrical work, I never considered any of those fields as a permanent one. There was never any thought of my working in the theater, films, or television unless I was going to be an actor. Even in going to college, I never did it in order to pursue some other line of work. College was simply something one did if one had the money and the opportunity. I started out studying history and anthropology because those subjects interested me, but I never really gave any consideration to pursuing a career in either field. I probably would have ended up with some sort of business degree if I'd stayed at Harvard, and perhaps if my acting career hadn't gotten off the ground I'd have ended up as an executive at some large corporation or the like, but that's about as far as I can speculate when it comes to playing what-if.
What is your favorite color?
Did you find those times that you worked with your mother to be any more or less difficult than working with other performers? Was it harder to play scenes such as the one in Tarzan where the mother/son relationship was so very different from the one you had in real life?
No, I can't really say that it was either more or less difficult, but it was certainly more enjoyable and memorable. As far as the Tarzan episode, no it was no harder. When I worked with my mother and the scene called for us to behave as we would if we weren't in front of the camera, such as the wonderful hug at the end of the Love Boat episode we did together, that was, of course, something that required very little acting for either of us, but it didn't make doing something like Tarzan any more difficult. In a case like that, my mother was only another actor, just like any other actor. We put ourselves into the minds of our characters and performed accordingly. Even though we were playing mother and son, just as we were mother and son in real life, we were not playing ourselves but characters devised by the episode's writer. That role could have been filled by anyone else -- Jessica Tandy, for instance -- and I still would have performed it in the same or a very similar fashion as I did when playing opposite my own mother.
Do you ever get sick of wearing Hawaiian shirts?
No, but I don't actually wear them all that frequently either. It just seems that way because most of the time when I'm being filmed or photographed it is somehow in conjunction with Five-O, and so I naturally tend to dress the part.
Do you ever get tired of hearing 'Book 'em, Danno'?
No, not really. I'm always gratified that people remember me and the role well enough to want to say hello and I've never yet heard it uttered by someone who wasn't smiling, so how could I ever get tired of that?
Is there anything you never learned to do but wish that you had?
I've always wished I could sing. Being possessed of that kind of talent is something I've always envied of those who have it.
In which sport(s) do you enjoy participating?
I've been an avid tennis player for more years than I care to count and I still play twice a week. Golf is my second favorite sport, one which I play (or at least *attempt* to play) whenever I get the chance. Actually, I won the Frank Sinatra golf tournament a few years ago, so I'm not doing too badly.
Was there ever a role which you badly wanted but did not get?
Yes, certainly. There were several that I can recall, chief among them the part of Dov Langdon in Exodus, which eventually went to Sal Mineo. I did well in the reading for the part and was told by Otto Preminger that I would have been fine for the part, but I simply didn't have the right 'look.' I also remember being unhappy when I didn't get the role for which I read in Ship of Fools, but later actually being relieved as the final movie didn't turn out as well as it could have. Another role I remember wanting and not getting was that of Lt. Lyman P. Jones in the Bob Hope feature The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell; Jeffrey Hunter won out over me for that one because I was deemed too young-looking at the time. Finally, I was quite disappointed with the loss of the part of Spencer Tracy's son in Ten North Frederick, as I'd always wanted to work with him and I'm sure it would have been a terrific experience. For once, my looks were exactly what was needed on that occasion since Spencer and I have the same build. However, when he dropped out and was replaced by Gary Cooper, that no longer held true and the part went to someone else.
Are there any roles you took which you now regret?
No, not particularly. Even those in films such as The Love-Ins and The Angry Breed, which I think we can all agree were not among my best, aren't roles I regret. Those parts came along at a time when work provided a welcome respite from my personal troubles so that even though I'm not exactly thrilled with the final product, I'm still glad I took the parts.
Do you speak any foreign languages?
Having traveled as widely as I have and having lived all over the world, of course I've picked up a smattering of quite a few languages, but the only one in which I have any facility is Spanish. Living in Southern California as I do, with its large population of native Spanish-speakers, it comes in quite handy and I get plenty of opportunity to keep from getting rusty.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I can hammer out a couple of tunes on the piano if I really put my mind to it, but my real expertise is in playing the Spanish guitar. I studied a long time for that and still play whenever the mood strikes. I have a very fine Jose Ramirez guitar which I bought in Spain thirty-eight years ago; in fact, whenever you see a picture of me with a guitar, it's almost certain that's the one you're seeing.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I don't think I really would change much. I'm pretty content with myself and my life the way they are right now and I'm lucky enough to have a terrific family and wonderful friends who seem to agree with me. It's often diverting or interesting to speculate about how one's life might have been different if one had made different choices or if certain important things hadn't happened in the way that they did, but in the end it doesn't really change anything. I'm having too much fun living my life and don't see any need to fret over what might or might not have been.
Would you describe yourself as primarily an optimist or a pessimist; in other words, is the glass half empty or half full?
Definitely half full. I don't spend my time viewing the world through rose-colored glasses or anything like that, but I've had my share of disappointments and bad choices and I've been around long enough to learn that with the right attitude you can always seem to land on your feet.
What is your shoe size?
If you were asked to give someone one piece of philosophical advice, what would it be?
Never lose your sense of humor. Even in the darkest times of life, there is always something to smile about or a happy moment to remember. It is also important to be able to laugh at yourself. We all make mistakes from time to time and being able to see the humorous aspect of any situation makes it less overpowering. As long as you don't take life too seriously, you can manage to get through anything. When you're depressed, add up your assets (I don't mean just money or material goods) and you will find there is more in the asset column than you believe at the moment.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I can be either, depending on the reasons. If I'm with a group of people and having a good time, I can sit up until the sunrise merrily chatting away. On the other hand, I have no difficulty getting up at the crack of dawn if there's a reason to start my day that early.
All things being equal, if you found yourself with an entire day on your hands with nothing pressing to do and no one else to consider, how would you spend your time?
I would probably start off with a nice English breakfast -- nobody makes breakfast like the English -- then go find a nice, quiet, shady spot and read for a long stretch, probably until it was time for lunch. After that, I'd likely stay in the kitchen and spend the whole afternoon preparing something interesting and unusual for dinner, share that with my wife and son, and then spend the evening in conversation with them or with other family and friends or perhaps sit at the computer for a bit catching up on my email. I might also spend some of the day browsing a favorite book store or throw in a game of tennis or perhaps even play my guitar, time and other things permitting.
You have a 300-mile drive ahead of you. Would you take the fastest route or the scenic route? If you have made the drive before, would you take the exact same route every time or vary it somewhat just to see what else is out there?
Well, I spend a lot of time in the car getting to and from Los Angeles and its environs. I've also driven across the U.S. at least a dozen times and throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and many other places. The highways and byways have nearly always proven more interesting than the sterile freeways or expressways, so yes, I'd probably vary the route if it could still get me there in a reasonable amount of time.
Do you think you could have been a policeman and if so, would you have been a detective or a beat cop? Would you have been any good at it?
I'll tell you a little story to answer that question. Years ago when I was living in a small apartment during the filming of one my movies, I had a group of friends who came over quite often to share a meal or sit and chat. At some point, I began to notice that small sums of money were disappearing from the pocket of the jacket I usually left hanging in the bedroom. The apartment was laid out in such a way that one had to pass through the bedroom in order to get to the bathroom, so I hatched a brilliant idea. I went out and bought a mouse trap, being careful to remove the little pin that would normally pierce the body of the mouse. I set the trap and placed it in the pocket where I kept my cash. That evening each time one of my friends excused himself to go to the bathroom, I would find an excuse to linger outside the bedroom door and listen for the sound of someone having triggered the trap. Sure enough, partway through the evening, I heard a loud yelp and walked in to find one of my 'friends' desperately trying to remove the trap from his finger and explain how he'd gotten it there in the first place. Without a word, I walked up behind him, frogmarched him to the front door, and literally kicked him in the backside to send him on his way. That was the last I saw of him, as you can imagine. So, I leave it for you to decide: Would I have made a good detective?
Have you ever considered writing an autobiography? If not, why not?
Although several fans have told me with great enthusiasm that they would enjoy reading such a work, I honestly don't think it would be of enough interest to the general public to make it worthwhile. It seems that everyone and his cousin is writing a biography these days and mine would just be one among too many. In order to distinguish it from the run-of-the-mill bio, I would need to tell the kinds of tales I'm not interested in sharing. I prefer that others respect my privacy and I do the same. However, having said that, I am currently working on developing a one-man show which I would like to take around the country and present to groups who might find it interesting. I do have some fun and interesting tales to tell and I think I could fill out a one-hour presentation quite nicely.
Which is your favorite season? Favorite holiday? Least favorite?
Like many brought up in a part of the world where Christmas meant snow and cold, I used to feel it wasn't Christmas without it -- but I got over it. Nowadays, living in the desert, if I want a change of seasons, I just get on an airplane. As for holidays, it's a tossup between Thanksgiving and Easter; Christmas is too much work.
Do you prefer working in the theater, television, or movies?
It's hard to pick one medium over another as each has its pluses and minuses. In television and movies, one has the ability to redo a scene until all parties are satisfied and there is no need to panic over a mistake; neither of these holds true in the theatre. However, when performing live there is the instant gratification of the audience's reaction, something that doesn't happen with film.
What type of situation frightens you?
Answering a long series of questions about my life and career.
Is there anything you avoid because it's just too stressful or scary?
Yes, but I'm too stressed just thinking about it to talk about it.
Do you still get stage fright?
Absolutely. Most actors who claim not to suffer from some form of stage fright are either lying or don't recognize the symptoms.
What is your favorite word?
I love all words and would find it impossible to narrow it down to just one. Language fascinates me -- so much so that I actually collect dictionaries. I love learning new words or discovering there is another meaning for a familiar one. As a native English-speaker I feel particularly blessed because I get to use one of the world's richest and most varied tongues every day.
Alimony. I don't think I need to explain that one any further, do I?
What is your favorite sound?
Hmmm. I think I'd have to say a sudden, unexpected rainshower falling on the roof or outside my open window as I lie stretched out relaxing or reading. Distant thunder is nice, too.
That horrible, irritating, makes-your-teeth-itch, 'scritching' sound of a length of yarn being pulled through tautly stretched embroidery or crewel fabric. I cringe just thinking about it!
What's your favorite pig-out food?
Poki, in Hawaii.
Whom would you most like to meet, living or dead? What would you do if you had the chance to spend an afternoon with him or her?
I'd really enjoy a chance to spend time with Thomas Jefferson, one of my all-time heroes. I don't think I'd do much talking though; instead I'd probably just sit with chin propped on my hand and listen with complete absorption to anything and everything that genius of a human being would care to say.
Is there any physical trait about yourself that you wish you could change?
Yes, I would have absolutely perfect vision.
What is your most annoying bad habit?
I have no bad habits, which I am told is very annoying.
Window or aisle seat? Why?
Either one is okay as long as it's not that awful, squished-up seat in the middle.
Do you have any hidden talents of which your fans are unaware?
Actually, yes; I'm a fairly decent mimic (voice impersonator).
Do you believe the Bible is fact, fiction, or a mixture of both?
I believe that Jesus Christ was a real person who lived approximately 2000 years ago and is the subject of much of what is written in the Bible. Whether or not he is the son of God is a matter of faith and a different subject entirely. As far as the Old Testament, much of what is written there has been proven to have occurred or can be found in even older works, such as the flood story, which dates all the way back to Gilgamesh (4500 BCE). I think that, of course, as with any legendary occurrence or story handed down by word of mouth or the translation from one language to the next, many stories in the Bible, while based on fact, have been subtly changed and altered with each retelling so that the modern King James Bible is indeed a mix of both fact and fiction.
Are you a cat person or a dog person? Do you have any pets?
I grew up in a house which saw a succession of several poodles (the big kind, not the toy kind) and other animals sharing it with us, including at one point even a donkey! As an adult, I've gravitated more toward cats, perhaps because they can be left on their own more easily and I do travel quite a bit. We currently have a 13-year-old female Maine Coon cat called Kittery in residence. She's a very affectionate creature who loves to plop herself in the middle of my desk so that before I can sit down and work, she'll get my attention. Another favorite ploy of hers is to wait until I turn my back to face the computer and then she'll creep up and tap me insistently on the shoulder with her paw. She's startled me more than once doing that, but I can't get annoyed with her for it because she's just too adorable!
Although Jack Lord directed several episodes of Hawaii Five-O, you never did. You did, however, direct one or two plays. Did you ever consider more directing, either for Five-O or for other projects? Might you consider directing something in the future?
The directing of a TV show is quite hard as you have so little time. I admire greatly those who can do it really well. Yes, I have directed in the theater a few times, and it is more satisyfing to me than trying to do a TV show. It's possible that I might try my hand at that again some time in the future. Now, if you have the time and the money to do a movie that would be something else again. However, I never have really had the desire or I suppose I would have tried to make that happen.
Which team of Monday Night Football commentators do you think is best? Is it Cosell/Meredith/Gifford, Gifford/Michaels/Dierdorf, or the current Michaels/Madden team?
I've always enjoyed watched Monday Night Football, no matter who was in the booth. I'd probably pick the Cosell/Meredith/Gifford team not so much because I think they were better than any other team but because they were there in the beginning. I was living in Hawaii at the time, and had been for several years, and back then we just didn't get much football. Pro ball was only played on Sundays, and TV technology being what it was, it was usually broadcast at ungodly times like 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. There weren't any home VCRs yet. Also, if you did get up to watch a game, that was the only thing you saw. They didn't have the technology to cut away and show clips from other games or anything like that. Then along came Monday Night Football with their halftime show which would have footage of the best plays from all the games the day before, plus it was on at a decent hour! It was a tremendously exciting show and I loved watching it. I used to go nuts when shooting ran late on Monday nights during football season. I'd go tearing out of the studio, race home, and head straight for the TV. Woe betide anyone who got in my way on one of those nights!
I simply have to ask; the wrestling with the anaconda during the filming of Swiss Family Robinson, it looks so real! Was it a real snake? You made that scene so absolutely realistic I think I would be surprised to learn that it was not a real snake and not the real James MacArthur in the scene!
Although there were two stunt actors used for part of that scene, there was definitely no stunt anaconda. That 20-foot monster was very real! Because nobody knew how well Tommy Kirk and I would be able to handle working with the snake -- especially neither one of us! -- the scene was first filmed using long shots and two stunt doubles. Then Tommy and I got in the water and went to work. Ken Annakin wanted a scene that would look as realistic and dramatic as possible, so that meant a lot of closeup shots where viewers could really see our faces and the snake coiling and slithering all around us, and watch us spluttering and struggling. In the end, about 90% of what made it into the movie is the real Tommy Kirk and James MacArthur, about 10% stunt doubles, and 100% live snake.