Jack Lord, 77, Helped Direct And Starred In 'Hawaii Five-O'
By LAWRIE MIFFLIN
Published: Friday, January 23, 1998
Jack Lord, the deadpan star of ''Hawaii Five-O'' who made ''Book him, Danno'' a fixture of American slang, died Wednesday at his home in Honolulu.
The phrase ''Book him, Danno,'' used when the bad guy was captured, came from the name of Detective McGarrett's assistant, Detective Danny Williams, who was played until the show's penultimate season by James MacArthur.
Mr. Lord was not only the star; his contract gave him control over dramatic decisions on every episode, and it was he who insisted, against the network's wishes, that the show be shot entirely on location in Hawaii.
That decision enhanced not only the show's appeal, as viewers seemed as entranced by the idyllic island scenery as by the crime stories, but also the Hawaiian economy. The network's spending on the production and on staff members' living expenses was estimated at more than $100 million a year, and the show fostered what Hawaiian Government officials called significant increases in tourism.
''It was considered the ultimate travelogue for Hawaii,'' David F. Poltrack, executive vice president of research at CBS, said yesterday. ''The ascent of Hawaii as a major tourist location coincided with the strong years of that program. It really hit a chord.''
Mr. Lord helped shape the show with its creator and executive producer, the late Leonard Freeman. After Freeman's death in 1973, a succession of producers followed, but it was widely known that Mr. Lord controlled the show. He also directed several episodes.
''He was always a strict taskmaster, a perfectionist,'' said Kam Fong, an original cast member, who played Detective Chin Ho Kelly for 10 years. ''When we were on the set, it was strictly business; he wouldn't stand for any horseplay. And he was not the sociable type. After work, he had nothing to do with us socially.
''But I learned quite a lot from him, and so did others,'' said Mr. Fong, who had acted on stage but never in films or television until ''Hawaii Five-O.'' ''We always had a lot of local actors on the show who were inexperienced, and he helped them a lot. He would yell at them, but always to help them learn.''
Different biographies give varying birth dates for Mr. Lord, but Ms. Tanaka said the correct date was Dec. 30, 1920. He was born John Joseph Patrick Ryan, in Brooklyn, the son of a steamship company executive. As a youth, he served as a merchant marine officer, and pursued his first love, painting, while working on freighters around the world.
Returning to New York, he won a football scholarship to New York University, where he majored in fine arts.
Selling Cadillacs from a showroom at 57th and Broadway by day, Mr. Lord began studying acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse by night. His first break was a role in the Ralph Bellamy television series ''Man Against Crime,'' and he went on to play in numerous live television dramas in the early 1950's. He also appeared in four Broadway plays, including Elia Kazan's production of ''Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,'' in the role of Brick.
He later had roles in several movies, most notably ''Dr. No,'' one of the early James Bond films.
Before ''Hawaii Five-O,'' Mr. Lord won acclaim as the lead character, a rodeo rider, in ''Stoney Burke,'' a 1962-63 series that lasted one season competing against ''I Love Lucy'' and ''The Danny Thomas Show.''
According to Mr. Fong and to other acquaintances quoted in Hawaiian newspaper accounts, Mr. Lord and his wife, a former fashion designer, were famously reclusive. In recent years, when Mr. Lord's health deteriorated, he was rarely seen.
The Lords, who moved to Hawaii from New York during the show's early seasons and never left, were married for more than 50 years, according to Ms. Tanaka, and had occupied themselves since 1980 with charitable work and relaxation.
Photo with original article: Jack Lord, left, and James MacArthur as the detectives Steve McGarrett and Danny Williams in ''Hawaii Five-O,'' which ran for 12 seasons.