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Swiss Family Robinson: Additional Information from the Disney Pressbook

James MacArthur Pursues Stardom from Tobago To Hawaiian Islands

Stardom seemed to be the destiny for James MacArthur, the son of actress Helen Hayes and the late Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles MacArthur. Currently co-starred as Danny Williams on CBS-TV's Hawaii Five-O, MacArthur has "paid his dues" to achieve the ranks of stardom. One of the high points on his ladder to the top was the valuable experience he received portraing the role of Fritz, eldest son of a castaway family in Walt Disney's epic adventure feature, Swiss Family Robinson.

Swiss Family Robinson was produced entirely on the Caribbean Island of Tobago in the West Indies. MacArthur's TV series, which also features Jack Lord, is being shot on location in the Hawaiian Islands. The experience of having done Swiss Family Robinson has been a great help to the young actor.

During the demanding six-month production schedule on Tobago, James received more first-hand experience in acting under difficult conditions than most performers get in a lifetime.

Shooting took place on 30 sites all over the rugged little island, including an isolated tidal swamp where the script called for MacArthur to encounter a 250-pound, 20-foot-long Anaconda. Despite all precautions, which included a standby crew of animal handlers, the giant reptile took him by surprise, coiled itself around his shoulders and shoved him under three times before rescuers could pry him free.

Hurricane "Edith" added an unexpected chapter to his growing set of remembrances. When she flicked a wicked tail in the direction of the little South Sea island, many native houses were destroyed, not to mention inundating the crude enclosed stage Disney crews had erected. Resulting rains created a sea of mud everywhere. MacArthur, and many other members of the Swiss Family production force, turned to and helped the local natives rebuild their homes.

The intermittent rain, the wind-borne salt spray, the beating equitorial sun, coupled with high humidity, insects, mud and a hurricane add up to quite a factor in young MacArthur's favor when his performance is seen in "Swiss Family Robinson." Certainly, the conditions would be hard to match anywhere in the world, especially on a Hollywood studio's backlot.

In Panavision and Technicolor, Swiss Family Robinson stars John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, MacArthur and Janet Munro, and co-stars Sessue Hayakawa, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran and Cecil Parker. Bill Anderson produced for Disney. Ken Annakin directed the Lowell S. Hawley screenplay, Buena Vista re-releases.

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