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Hawaii International Film Festival (6 November 2003)

Film in Hawaii Award

At their 2003 event, the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) chose to bestow its fourth annual Film in Hawaii Award upon James MacArthur and Hawaii Five-O. As described by the HIFF organization, "The Film in Hawai’i Award is presented by the State of Hawai’i to the film or television entity that has significantly contributed to promoting the local film industry. The recipient may be a filmmaker, a star, or a production company that has helped develop the reputation of Hawai’i as the world’s premiere tropical film location." Presented below is the text of James MacArthur's acceptance speech:

"I apologize for the fact that I'm reading my speech tonight, but I've recently joined a new organization: It's called C.R.A.F.T. -- Can't Remember A Thing...

Back in 1967, my phone rang one day and it was my agent -- agents used to make housecalls in those days -- he asked me if I wanted to do a cameo in a movie called Hang 'Em High. The writer/producer was a man named Leonard Freeman. I agreed, did my three days, had a great time, and that was that. A few months later, the phone rang again. This time it was Charleton Heston, asking me if I wanted to go to Viet Nam with the USO. I said yes, got on a plane, and some hours later we landed in Honolulu for refueling. It was my first-ever visit to the islands. I was here for a whole hour. At midnight. Nonetheless, I thought it might be nice to come back for a proper visit one day. Little did I know that just a few short months later, the phone would ring yet again and it would be Lenny Freeman, offering me the part of Dan Williams in Hawaii Five-O.

Lenny told me why he thought the show would be a hit. Five-O would debut at a time when the country was involved in the Viet Nam war, and we all lived in a very gray world. This would not be so on Hawaii Five-O. We would offer a black-and-white world, good versus evil, with you-know-who winning every week. And was he ever right. Unhappily, Lenny passed on after the sixth season, but, thanks to the kind and open generosity of people of this state, Governor Burns, the Mayors of Honolulu, the military, all branches, city and state officials and all the others involved, Five-O enjoyed a phenomenally successful 12-year run. And Hawaii has been a part of my life for over 35 years.

I am so delighted that Rose Freeman, Lenny's wife, is here to share this moment. Rose, thank you very much.

We also have so many other people here who were an integral part of the show, both in front of and behind the camera. Folks like Zulu, Beau van den Ecker, Al Harrington, Harry Endo, Doug Mossman, Jimmy Borges, Joe Moore, Dave Donnelly, Eddie Sherman, Seth Sakai, Wally White, Kwan Hi-Lim, Chris Ikeda, Charlotte Simmons, Dennis Chun (Kam Fong's son), Carol Wedemeyer, and so many others. To all of them I say a heartfelt "thank you, fellow collaborators."

You know, everything was so new -- so untried -- our first day we shot a master shot, after which Zulu got in his car and went home. The time came for closeups, and he was nowhere to be found. He'd gone to the beach and had to be brought back. But he was such a good guy. I'd have these scenes -- these lines -- I'd be in a phone booth somewhere reporting in and have to say something like: "Steve, I'm at the corner of Kalalaliakaka and Like-Like <mispronounced with long "I"> Highway." My buddy Zulu was always there to straighten me out on Hawaiian pronounciation. And of course, Kam Fong, who called himself "my son's Chinese grandfather," had been a real policeman, so he knew how to authenticate all the little pieces of business that helped give me the air of a real detective.

We worked hard and joked hard. I remember once Jack was rehearsing an arduous dramatic scene in the McGarrett office set. On the sound stage, there was another set which was a bedroom. Zulu had decided to take a little catnap, and was fast asleep on the bed. So I ran around behind a flat, and started <loud, obnoxious snoring noises>. With that, Jack came running out, furious, wanting to know who had the audacity to snore while he was working. Poor Zulu. But he got me back. More than once.

And speaking of Jack, the lynchpin who held it all together. I will always remember the inexhaustible enthusiasm he brought to the show each and every day. His Steve McGarrett was and always will be an indelible symbol of what a good TV cop can be.

It is fitting that Hawaii Five-O should receive this honor tonight because in many ways it was the crucible in which the Hawaiian film industry was forged. Oh, there were other shows before and since, but our show developed a wonderful stable of local talent, actors, and technicians. I only wish there were more shows for them to do today, especially a long-running series.

I think it's wonderful that we still have fans worldwide. The show's intrigue lives on. I think Lenny Freeman's insistence on fine scripts is one of the key factors in the longevity of this show. There are well over a dozen different web sites devoted to the show and its actors. Just last week I got a nice little note from a fellow in Arizona, who wrote: "You booked more criminals than any of us in our entire career, and you did it in under an hour. Signed, your fan, a retired DEA Special Agent." In fact, the video you just watched was developed with the help of a group of those same fans. One of them is even here with us tonight: Jerry Pickard, a graduate of the University of Hawaii, now living in Vancouver, British Columbia, who travelled here just to share this moment. Thanks to you, Jerry, and all the many fans like you for your continued support.

Hawaii Five-0 was seen in millions and millions of homes around the world and brought an incredible number of people to these lovely shores. It has done very good things for The State of Hawaii.

This honor means the world to me, and I share it with all those here in the audience as well as those could not join us tonight. We could ask for no finer recognition than from The Hawaiian Film Commission and The wonderful State of Hawaii.

Mahalo nui loa."

Admission Ticket

HIFF Program

HIFF Program

Seth and Pattie Sakai

Doug Mossman, Al Harrington

James MacArthur

HIFF Directors

Hawaii Five-O ladies

HIFF location

Kwan Hi Lim, Beau van den Ecker

James MacArthur, Ted Yu

Dennis Chun, Zulu

H.B. and James MacArthur

HIFF Directors

James MacArthur, HB MacArthur

HIFF Directors






Click here to view the award notification letter sent to James MacArthur by HIFF.

Click here to visit the Hawaii Five-O Fan club website to read a narrative of the event written by Five-O fan Jerry Pickard, who was in attendance.

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