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Modern Screen (November 1971)

"James MacArthur and Melody Patterson: How a Divorced Dad and His New Wife Make the Most of His Kids"

In many families, when two people get divorced and later marry other mates, the children suffer. “Whom do we stay with, Mom or Dad?” they ask sadly.

There’s no such problem with James MacArthur, one of the stars of Hawaii Five-O, and his ex-wife, Joyce Bulifant. She knows how much their two kids, Charles, 10, and Mary, 5, mean to their dad, so she doesn’t limit their visits with him.

Every summer the children stay with Jim and his wife, TV actress Melody Patterson (remember F Troop?) in Hawaii, where Jim spends eight months a year acting in his TV show. Ask young Charles how he likes spending four weeks or more a year in Hawaii, and he says, eyes shining, “It’s just great. Dad’s place is right on the ocean so I can go surfing almost from our back porch.”

The children not only have a great time in Hawaii; the fun continues later in California. As soon as Jim’s hiatus from his TV show starts, he and Melody fly to their ranch home in the San Fernando Valley. Since they live just a stone’s throw from Joyce and her second husband, it’s easy for the children to visit whenever they feel like it. They have a great time romping around on the two-and-a-half-acre ranch -- with Jim and Charles playing touch football and baseball, and Mary and Melody cheering them on. Indoors, still full of animal spirits, they playfully rough-house on the beds, then relax with great home-cooked dinners. It’s a great life!

When the MacArthurs have guests in for a cocktail party, the children meet the guests during the early part of the party. In fact, the kids feel so much at home with them that at one cocktail party, Mary kissed each guest good night before going to bed, after which her father left the guests long enough to tuck her in.

During most of the year Jim may not see his children quite as often as a non divorced father, but he makes up for lost time by crowding a lot of living and loving and sheer fun into his four-month hiatus.

For instance, Jim taught Charlie, a natural athlete like himself, to ski, so when he and Melody go to the different ski resorts on weekends, they can take Charlie right along. Mary will go too, as soon as she’s big enough to learn to ski.

All this is possible because Jim and Melody are very friendly with Joyce and her husband -- when Joyce had a baby, Jim was among the first to visit her. They are two parents with two separate families, but as far as Jim and his kids are concerned, they’re one big family. Above all, Jim and Joyce have proved that even when two people divorce and marry new mates, their children don’t have to suffer and be torn apart.

Melody Patterson, Charlie MacArthur, Mary MacArthur, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

Mary MacArthur, James MacArthur

Charlie MacArthur, Mary MacArthur, James MacArthur

Charlie MacArthur, James MacArthur

Mary MacArthur, James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

Melody Patterson, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

Melody Patterson, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Mary MacArthur, Charlie MacArthur

Charlie MacArthur, Mary MacArthur, James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

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