The rolling waves crashed and Polynesians rowed frantically across the wild ocean as that all familiar theme tune signalled he start of another episode of Hawaii Five-O. Sadly the curtain has come down on James MacArthur, famous for his role as “Danno” in the original Hawaii Five-0, after he died on Thursday aged 72.
MacArthur’s agent, Richard Lewis, issued a statement which said the actor died of natural causes at his home in Florida, although no specific cause of death was given.
MacArthur’s career stretched four decades but he was best known in the role of Detective Danny “Danno” Williams on Hawaii Five-0, a popular detective series which ran from 1968 to 1980. Steve McGarret (as played by Jack Lord who died in 1998), the main character in the series, would often end an episode by saying “book ‘em Danno”. The show was highly influential and even rap artists got in on the act by coining the phrase “five-o” as a reference to the police.
On his own website he said, “Quite frankly, I grew bored. The stories became more bland and predictable and presented less and less challenge to me as an actor.”
Hawaii Five-O was one of the longest running cop shows with a staggering 278 episodes, and was filmed entirely on location in the Hawaiian Islands.
MacArthur was born Dec. 8, 1937, and was always destined to become an actor. He was adopted by playwright Charles MacArthur and Helen Hayes, herself an award-winning actress known as the “First Lady of the American Theatre.” His godmother was silent movie star Lillian Gish.
In a 1957 interview with Teen Life Magazine he said, “They did teach me a lot about the theatre just through my life with them. They never pushed me in any direction. Any major decision has always been my own to make.”
When asked by the Hawaii Star Bulletin newspaper in 2003 what his fondest memories of Hawaii Five-O were, MacArthur replied, “Living in Hawaii.”
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