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Photoplay (October 1970)

"James MacArthur & Melody Patterson: Marriage on the Rocks"

By Lisa Reynolds

They got married in a cave. She had to change her gown ‘cause of the cave dust. After such a beginning, it must be love.

Two years ago, Jim MacArthur, still smarting from the rupture of his first marriage to Joyce Bulifant, swore up and down he’d be a bachelor for life. “I liked being married,” he said, “but once is enough. One day you have a nice home, a nice wife, two cars and two kids. Then, you come home, and she says ‘out.’ Your marriage is over and you don’t even know why. Yeh, I see girls. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for one, but don’t expect me to marry again.”

That, however, was two years ago. It was after nine years of marriage to his childhood sweetheart, and a letdown that was understandably huge. Jim was cast adrift in a sea of social gatherings. As a star of the hit TV series, Hawaii 5-0, he was one of the most wanted men in Honolulu -- where the program is filmed -- or anywhere else, for that matter. He kind of enjoyed his newfound freedom. After awhile, the memory of married life began to get dimmer and dimmer. Then, he met Melody Patterson at a party.

“Mel,” who became known to the public when she appeared on F Troop, is a peaches-and cream blonde who resembles the first Mrs. MacArthur. Besides her obvious good looks, she has a wonderfully optimistic attitude, and a bubbly personality. James got interested. An expert skier, he invited Mel on a ski trip. From one point of view, this date didn’t turn out too well: Mel fell and broke her leg. Yet the accident, which kept them off the slopes, enabled them to get to know one another.

Other ski trips followed and Melody visited Jim in Hawaii, but, even so, most observers were skeptical when a friend of MacArthur’s said, “Mark my word. He’s going to marry her.”

“No chance,” was the general rejoinder to that.

Then, a few months ago, Jim and Melody quit dating. She told her loyal manager that the break was traumatic for her but that, regardless of the sorrow of parting, she was still glad she’d known James MacArthur. The tears she might shed were a modest price to pay for the joy she’d found in loving Jim.

James didn’t say anything as he left to go skiing without his girl. Nevertheless, she was much on his mind, and, as days passed without her, he knew she was much in his heart as well.

Back in Hawaii, at work on Hawaii Five-O, he discovered he loved Melody so much he wanted to marry her, so, to show her how he felt, he bought a $12,000 engagement ring set with a five-carat, heart-shaped diamond and asked Melody to accept it. She not only accepted the ring but Jim’s proposal of marriage and pledge of eternal love.

On Sunday, July 12, they were married in a romantic fern grotto on the Island of Kauai, once used by ancient Polynesians for their most solemn religious rites. The Rev. Tuk Wah Lee, assistant pastor of Kawaiahao Church, Honolulu, performed the ceremony, addressing the couple in both English and Hawaiian.

The late afternoon sun, which had been behind a cloud when the wedding party arrived, came out to fill the grotto with its long-slanting rays. Thus, as Jim and Melody exchanged their most sacred vows, they were bathed in unexpected radiance.

James, with his friends and his mother, actress Helen Hayes, had traveled to the grotto in a gaily-decorated wedding barge filled with musicians playing island music. Melody, too, arrived on a wedding barge escorted by her father, Pat Patterson, who later gave the bride in marriage.

Her white satin wedding dress, with lace over-skirt and cathedral train, was worn with a Hawaiian bridal head dress and fingertip veil. The single ring used in the ceremony was a circle of diamonds.
Mrs. James Kreugar of Honolulu was matron of honor, and Beau Van Den Ecker of Los Angeles and Honolulu, a stunt man on Hawaii Five-O, was best man. Mary MacArthur, four, the bridegroom’s daughter, was flower girl; while her brother, Charles MacArthur, 10, was ring bearer.

A reception followed at the Cocoa Palms Hotel. During the reception, continuing the observance of Hawaiian traditions, the bride danced a slow hula with her mother. Hawaii Five-O star Jack Lord, in expressing his good wishes for the couple, recited a poem embodying “the real meaning of Aloha.” He’d memorized it, he said, when he was seven years old and had seen a poster in a travel agency window extolling the spirit of the islands.

Jim and Melody were permitted a two-day honeymoon before he had to report back to the Hawaii Five-O set. “We have something beautiful together,” he said looking proudly at Melody, and anyone whose eyes followed his knew that he had a beautiful wife.

James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

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