'Hawaii 5-O' Actor James MacArthur Dies

James MacArthur, the son of actress Helen Hayes who spent 11 years booking bad guys as Det. "Danno" Williams on the original "Hawaii Five-O," died Oct. 26. He was 72. No place or cause of death was immediately known.

In 1967, producer Leonard Freeman remembered an actor who did a cameo in the Clint Eastwood movie "Hang 'Em High" as the traveling preacher who came on the set and required just one take. He called the boyish MacArthur and cast him as Det. Williams opposite Jack Lord on CBS' "Hawaii Five-O."

The phrase "Book 'em Danno!" has become one of the most popular lines in TV history, with the phrase returning to the airwaves with CBS' revamped "Hawaii Five-O" back on the schedule. Scott Caan plays the Williams character.

Born Dec. 8, 1937 in Los Angeles, MacArthur was raised in a theater atmosphere by Hayes and noted "Front Page" playwright and screenwriter Charles MacArthur, his adopted father, at their home nicknamed "Pretty Penny" on the bank of the Hudson River in Nyack, N.Y.

Before his senior year at the Solebury School in New Hope, Pa., MacArthur appeared in John Frankenheimer's "Deal a Blow," a live telefilm on the "Climax" series. Then, before leaving for Harvard, he went to Hollywood to make the film version of it, renamed "The Young Stranger" (1957).

During summer breaks from Harvard, he starred in "The Light in the Forest" (1958) and "Third Man on the Mountain" (1959) for Disney. In 1960, he did "Kidnapped" and "Swiss Family Robinson," also for Disney, then made his Broadway debut playing Aaron Jablonski opposite Jane Fonda in "Invitation to a March," which won him the 1961 Theatre World Award for best new actor.

The earnest MacArthur then appeared on stage in "Under the Yum Yum Tree," "The Moon Is Blue," "John Loves Mary," "Barefoot in the Park" and "Murder at the Howard Johnson's" before returning to Hollywood to star in such movies as "The Interns" (1962), "Spencer's Mountain" (1963), "Cry of Battle" (1963), "The Truth About Spring" (1965) and "The Bedford Incident"(1965).

He then was a member of the all-star cast which included Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews, George Montgomery, Charles Bronson and Telly Savalas in "Battle of the Bulge" (1965).

After many appearances on TV and more than a decade on "Hawaii Five-O," MacArthur returned to the stage in "The Hasty Hearst" with Caroline Lagerfelt, "The Front Page" -- the play written by his father and Ben Hecht -- and "A Bed Full of Foreigners" in several locals. He then played Mortimer in the national tour of "Arsenic and Old Lace" with Jean Stapleton, Marion Ross and Larry Storch.

In 1997, he returned to play Williams, now governor of Hawaii, in a "Hawaii Five-O" telefilm.

Outside of acting, MacArthur was a world traveler who in the early 1970s spent six months driving his Land Rover from London to Malawi in southeast Africa with a friend, Stan Hattie. He was a skilled flamenco guitarist, and his passion for golf led him to meet his future wife, LPGA tour player and teacher H.B. Duntz.

MacArthur's god parents were actress Lillian Gish and playwright Ned Sheldon. He also was married to actresses Joyce Bulifant, from 1958-67, and Melody Patterson, from 1970-75.

In addition to his wife of more than 25 years, survivors include children Charles P. MacArthur (Jenny), Mary McClure (Kevin), Juliette Rappaport (Kurt) and James D. MacArthur and seven grandchildren -- Ruby Johnstone, Riley Kea MacArthur, Ford and Daisy McClure, Jake, Luke, and Julia Rappaport.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington; the Helen Hayes Hospital in Nyack; the Solebury School MOM Fund in New Hope; the Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Church in Palm Desert, Calif.; and the Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu.

Church and memorial services will be held in Nyack, Palm Desert and Honolulu. 

comments powered by Disqus