Hawaii Five-O is an American television series produced by CBS Productions, and set in Hawaii. The show originally aired for twelve seasons from 1968 to 1980, and continued in reruns. The show featured a fictional state police unit run by Detective Steve McGarrett, played by actor Jack Lord. The theme music composed by Morton Stevens became especially popular. Most episodes would end with McGarrett instructing his subordinate to "Book 'em, Danno" sometimes specifying a charge such as "murder one."
- Steve McGarrett played by Jack Lord
- Danny "Danno" Williams played by James MacArthur
- Kono Kalakaua played by Gilbert Lani Kauhi
- Chin Ho Kelly played by Kam Fong
- Attorney General John Manicote played by Glenn Cannon
- Ben Kokua played by Al Harrington
- Duke Lukela played by Herman Wedemeyer
- Governor Paul Jameson played by Richard Denning
- James Carew played by William Smith
- Truck Kealoha played by Moe Keale
- Frank Kamana played by Douglas Mossman
- Lori Wilson played by Sharon Farrell
- May played by Maggi Parker
- Jenny Sherman played by Peggy Ryan.
The CBS television network produced Hawaii Five-O, which aired from September 20, 1968 to April 4, 1980. Currently, the program is broadcast in syndication worldwide and via on-demand streaming media from CBS Interactive. Created by Leonard Freeman, Hawaii Five-O was shot on location in Honolulu, Hawaii, and throughout the island of Oahu as well as other Hawaiian islands—with occasional filming in other locales like Los Angeles, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Hawaii Five-O was named in honor of Hawaii's status as the 50th State, although the show's name ends with the letter "O" instead of the number zero. The show centers on a fictional state police force led by former U.S. naval officer Steve McGarrett (played by Jack Lord), who was appointed by the Governor, Paul Jameson (played by Richard Denning, though Lew Ayres played the Governor in the pilot). In the show, McGarrett oversaw State Police officers—a young officer, Danny Williams (played by Tim O'Kelly in the show's pilot but replaced in the regular series by James MacArthur), Chin Ho Kelly (played by Kam Fong) and Kono Kalakaua (played by Zulu). Also, Honolulu Police Department Officer Duke Lukela (played by Herman Wedemeyer) joined the team as a regular, as did Ben Kokua (played by Al Harrington) who replaced Kono. Occasionally, McGarrett's Five-O team was assisted by other officers as needed: medical examiner Doc Bergman (played by Al Eben), forensic specialist Che Fong (played by Harry Endo) and a secretary. The first secretary was May (played by Maggi Parker), then Jenny (played by Peggy Ryan) and later Luana (played by Laura Sode-Matteson).
For twelve seasons, McGarrett and his team hounded international secret agents, criminals, and organized crime syndicates plaguing the Hawaiian Islands. With the aid of District Attorney and later Hawaii's Attorney General John Manicote (played by Glenn Cannon), McGarrett was successful in sending most of his enemies to prison. One such Mafia syndicate was led by crime family patriarch Honore Vashon (played by Harold Gould), a character introduced in the fifth season. Most episodes of Hawaii Five-O ended with the arrest of criminals and McGarrett snapping, "Book 'em." The offense occasionally was added after this phrase, for example, "Book 'em—murder one." In many episodes this was directed to Williams and became McGarrett's catch phrase, "Book 'em, Danno."
Other criminals and organized crime bosses on the islands were played by actors such as Ricardo Montalbán, Gavin MacLeod, and Ross Martin as Tony Alika. By the 12th and final season, series regular James MacArthur had left the show (in 1996, he admitted that he had become tired and wanted to do other things), as had Kam Fong. Unlike other characters before him, Fong's character Chin Ho, at Fong's request, did not just vanish from the show but instead was murdered while working undercover to expose a protection ring in Chinatown in the last episode of season 10. New characters Jim 'Kimo' Carew (played by William Smith), Lori Wilson (played by Sharon Farrell), and Truck (played by Moe Keale) were introduced in season 12 alongside returning regular character Duke Lukela.
The Five-O team consisted of three to five members (small for a real state police unit), and was portrayed as occupying a suite of offices in the Iolani Palace. The office interiors were sets on a soundstage. Five-O lacked its own radio network, necessitating frequent requests by McGarrett to the Honolulu Police Department dispatchers, "Patch me through to Danno." McGarrett's tousled yet immovable hairstyle, as well as his proclivity for wearing a dark suit and tie on all possible occasions (uncommon in the islands), rapidly entered popular culture. While the other members of Five-O also "dressed mainland" much of the time, they also often wore local styles, such as the ubiquitous "Aloha shirt."
In many episodes (including the pilot), McGarrett was drawn into the world of international espionage and national intelligence. McGarrett's arch-nemesis was a rogue intelligence officer of the People's Republic of China, named Wo Fat. The Communist rogue agent was played by veteran actor Khigh Dhiegh. The show's final episode in 1980 was titled "Woe to Wo Fat," in which McGarrett finally saw his foe Wo go to jail.
This television show's action and straightforward story-telling left little time for personal stories involving wives or girlfriends, though a two-part story in the first season dealt with the loss of McGarrett's sister's baby. Occasionally, a show would flash back to McGarrett's younger years or to a romantic figure. The viewer was left with the impression that McGarrett, at that point in his life, much like Dragnet's Joe Friday, was wedded to the police force and to crime-fighting. Teetotaler McGarrett often worked very late at the office, long after his colleagues had gone home.
In the episode "Number One with a Bullet, Part 2," McGarrett spat at a criminal, "It was a bastard like you who killed my father." His 42-year-old father had been run down and killed by someone who had just held up a supermarket. Since Steve McGarrett was also a commander in the Naval Reserve, he sometimes used their resources to help investigate and solve crimes. Hence the closing credits of some episodes mentioned the Naval Reserve. A 1975 episode involving Danno's aunt, played by MacArthur's adoptive mother Helen Hayes, provided a bit of Williams's back story.
Hawaii Five-O would use actual phone numbers instead of the fictional "555" exchange for the first half of the series' run. In the 1969 episode, "Blind Tiger," McGarrett, who had been temporarily blinded by an attempt on his life (a criminal bombing his car), asked a hospital operator to connect him to 732-5577, which was the phone number at Five-O headquarters.
Hawaii Five-O survived long enough to overlap with reruns of early episodes, which by then had entered syndication while new episodes were still being produced. The 12th season was repackaged into syndication under the title McGarrett.
Sources differ on how the show came to be. One source states the idea for the show may have come from a conversation producer Leonard Freeman had with Hawaii's then-Governor John A. Burns. Another source instead claims that Freeman wanted to set a show in San Pedro, California until his friend Richard Boone convinced him to shoot it entirely in Hawaii. A third source claims Freeman discussed the show with Governor Burns only after pitching the idea to CBS. Before settling on the name "Hawaii Five-O", Freeman considered titling the show "The Man".
Freeman offered Richard Boone the part of McGarrett, but Boone turned it down; Gregory Peck and Robert Brown were also considered for the part. Brown was actually cast, but dismissed without explanation by CBS just days before shooting on the pilot was to commence. Ultimately, Jack Lord—then living in Beverly Hills—was asked at the last moment. Lord read for the part on a Wednesday and was cast for the part and flew to Hawaii two days later. On the following Monday, Lord was in front of the cameras. Freeman and Lord had worked together previously on an unsold TV pilot called Grand Hotel.
Kam Fong, an 18-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department, auditioned for the part of the lead villain Wo Fat, but Freeman cast him in the part of Chin Ho Kelly instead. Freeman took the name Wo Fat from a restaurant in downtown Honolulu. The name Chin Ho came from Chinn Ho, the owner of the Ilikai Hotel where the penthouse shot of Steve McGarrett in the opening title sequence was made. Richard Denning, who played the governor, had retired to Hawaii and came out of retirement for the show. Zulu was a Waikiki beach boy and local DJ when he was cast for the part of Kono, which he played for the next four years.
The first season was shot in a rusty military Quonset hut in Pearl City, which the various cast members quickly nicknamed "Mongoose Manor." The roof tended to leak, and rats would often gnaw at the cables. The show then moved to a Fort Ruger location for seasons two to eight. A third studio was built at Diamond Head, and was used during the last four seasons.
A problem from the beginning was the lack of a movie industry in Hawaii. Therefore, much of the crew and cast, including many locals who ended up participating in the show, all had to learn their respective jobs as they went along. Jack Lord was known as a perfectionist who insisted on the best from everyone. His temper flared when he felt that others did not give their best, but in later reunions they admitted that Lord's hard driving force had made them better actors and made Hawaii Five-O a better show. Lord's high standards also helped the show last another seven years after Leonard Freeman's death from heart trouble during the sixth season.
To critics and viewers, there was no question that Jack Lord was the center of the show, and that the other actors frequently served as little more than props, standing and watching while McGarrett emoted and paced around his office, analyzing the crime. But occasionally episodes would focus on the other actors, and let them showcase their own talents. In addition to his on-screen role, Jack Lord is reputed to have been a silent partner in all aspects of the production of Hawaii Five-O, even more so as the series grew in popularity during the 1970s.
Very few episodes were shot outside of Hawaii. At least two episodes were shot in Los Angeles, one in Hong Kong and one in Singapore. Episodes shot in these locations were the only ones not to bear the "Filmed entirely on location in Hawaii" legend.
The opening title sequence was created by noted television director Reza S. Badiyi. Early shows began with a cold open suggesting the sinister plot for that program, then cut to shot of a big ocean wave and the start of the theme song. A fast zoom-in to the top balcony of the Ilikai Hotel followed, showing McGarrett turning to face the camera, followed by many quick-cuts and freeze-frames of Hawaiian scenery, and Hawaiian-Chinese-Caucasian model Elizabeth Malamalamaokalani Logue turning to face the camera. A grass-skirted hula dancer from the pilot episode was also included, played by Helen Kuoha-Torco who later became a professor of business technology at Windward Community College. The opening scene ended with shots of the supporting players, and the flashing blue light of a police motorcycle racing through a Honolulu street.
At the conclusion of each episode, Jack Lord narrated a teaser for the next episode, often emphasizing the "guest villain", especially if the villain is a recurring character, such as that played by actor Hume Cronyn. The line he spoke was, "This is Jack Lord inviting you to be with us next week for <name of episode>" and then, "Be here. Aloha." The teasers were removed from the syndicated episodes but most have been restored in DVD releases from the second season onward. Most of the teasers are slightly edited to remove references to "next week."
This tradition has been continued in the 2010 version of Hawaii Five-0, but is not limited to Alex O'Loughlin. All of the primary cast members take turns with the iconic "Be here. Aloha." line at the end of the preview segment.
There were two versions of the closing credits portion of the show. During the first season, the theme music was played over a short film of a flashing blue light attached to the rear of a police motorcycle in Waikiki heading west (the film is shown at twice the normal speed, as can be seen from people crossing a street behind the police motorcycle). In later seasons, the same music was played over film of outrigger canoeists battling the surf.
In a 2010 issue of TV Guide, the show’s opening title sequence ranked #4 on a list of TV's top 10 credits sequences, as selected by readers.
The show was the longest running crime show on American television until Law & Order surpassed it in 2003. The popularity of the Hawaii Five-O format spawned various police dramas on all the major television networks.
Known for the location, theme song, and ensemble cast, Hawaii Five-O is also noted for its liberal use of exterior location shooting throughout the entire twelve seasons. A typical episode, on average, would have at least two-thirds of all footage shot on location, as opposed to a "typical" show of the time which would be shot largely on sound stages and backlots. It is also remembered for its relatively unique setting, notable during a time when most crime dramas of the era were set in or around the Los Angeles or New York City areas.
The Hawaiian-based television show Magnum, P.I. was created after Hawaii Five-O ended its run, in order to make further use of the expensive production facilities created there for Five-O. The first few Magnum P.I. episodes made direct references to Five-O, suggesting that it takes place in the same fictional universe. (A few attempts were made by Magnum's producers to coax Jack Lord out of retirement to do a cameo appearance, but he refused.)
The vast majority of characters in the show were non-Hispanic Caucasian, whereas only 40% of the population of the state identified themselves as such. However, many local people were cast in the show, which was ethnically diverse by the standards of the late 1960s. The first run and syndication were seen by an estimated 400,000,000 people around the world.
A one-hour pilot for a new series was made in 1996 but never aired. Produced and written by Stephen J. Cannell, it starred Gary Busey and Russell Wong as the new Five-O team. James MacArthur briefly returned as Dan Williams, now governor of Hawaii. Several cameos were made by other Five-O regulars, including Kam Fong as Chin Ho Kelly (even though the character had been killed off at the end of Season 10).
The one-hour pilot for a revived show, called Hawaii Five-0 (the last character is a zero instead of the letter "O"), aired 20 September 2010 on CBS, and as of October 2010, the series now airs Monday nights at 10 PM Eastern, 9 PM Central time. The reimagined Hawaii Five-0 uses the same principal character names as the original, and the new Steve McGarrett's late father's vintage 1974 Mercury Marquis is the actual specimen driven by Lord in the original series' final seasons. The new series' opening credit sequence is an homage to the original; the theme song is cut in half, from 60 to 30 seconds but is an otherwise identical instrumentation; most of the iconic shots are replicated, beginning with the helicopter approach and close-up turn of McGarrett at the Ilikai Hotel penthouse, the jet engine intake, a hula dancer's hips, the quickly stepped zoom-in to the face of the Lady Columbia statue at the Punchbowl, the close-up of the Kamehameha Statue's face, and ending a police motorcycle's flashing blue gumball light.
Another legacy of the show is the popularity of the Hawaii Five-O theme music. The tune was composed by Morton Stevens, who also composed numerous episode scores. The theme, which has been performed by The Ventures, is particularly popular with college and high school marching bands, especially at the University of Hawaii where it has become the unofficial fight song. The tune has also been heard at Robertson Stadium after Houston Dynamo goals scored by Brian Ching, a native of Hawaii.
Although the theme is most widely known as an instrumental, it has been released with at least two different sets of lyrics. The first, by Don Ho, starts with the familiar tempo, then settles into a ballad style. The second, by Sammy Davis, Jr., titled "You Can Count on Me (Theme from Hawaii Five-O)", maintains the driving style of the original instrumental throughout. The Radio Birdman version was called "Aloha, Steve & Danno".