Jack Lord & Jim MacArthur

Working Together - Keeping Apart

From Photoplay,
December 1971

On the "Hawaii Five-O" set, Jack Lord and James MacArthur step in measured tandem, disciplined by the same firm cadence -- professionalism. But after hours, they march to different drummers, each following his own background, his personal tastes and talents, and the woman he loves and lives with. It's good (in fact, essential) that both Jack and Jimmy are thoroughly professional actors, totally schooled in and dedicated to their craft. Otherwise, "Hawaii Five-O" surely would have foundered under the handicaps of its first season. During that first year, Hawaii offered no sound stage, so cast and crew worked in an old warehouse leased from the Navy. The shed (that's all it was) wasn't soundproofed, and planes flew over incessantly, ruining scenes and directors' dispositions. To further complicate matters, "Five-O" personnel had to drive for an hour to even reach the improvised sound stage which was located in a cane field some distance from downtown Honolulu, and that meant early rising.

"It's a rugged schedule," Jack said. "We start shooting at 6:30 a.m. and work until we lose the light.

"But we couldn't make this show in Hollywood. It's costing us 30 per cent more to make this show in Hawaii than it would on the Mainland, but we are getting from 50 to 60 per cent more in scenery, faces (the kind you can't get from the Screen Extras' Guild), and in the wonderful, translucent light you find in the islands."

Hawaiian weather is hot and humid. But the Navy warehouse, unlike a Hollywood sound stage, had no air conditioning, so shirts were soaked through early each day, and the make-up man stayed busy dabbing droplets of moisture from Lord's chiseled features and Jimmy's boyishly handsome face.

When the noon break rolled around, everybody trooped not to the Brown Derby or even to a commissary but through weeds and cane to another shed next door, where benches and tables had been set up to create a dining hall.

Working conditions that first year were rough. No doubt about it. Especially since everybody was nervous (Lord in particular), wondering whether the series was going to make it at all and be picked up for another season.

"If this show does five years," Jack said, "I can do whatever I like for the rest of my life."

Yet, nerves and handicaps notwithstanding, there were no temperamental flareups among the principals. Regardless of long hours and primitive facilities, the pros worked together as though they were part of a Broadway company appearing in an assured hit. Always, when they are working, Jack and Jimmy march as one.

They didn't, however, follow the same path to their present professional plateaus. James got there the relatively easy way. He was a chosen child, not only chosen by fate to be handsome, talented and intelligent, but chosen by Helen Hayes and Charles MacArthur when he was only ten days old to become their son through adoption. James grew up surrounded by the great names of the intellectual and artistic world.

His mother was a star of the Broadway stage and an Oscar-winning motion picture actress, while his father was a renowned journalist and playwright. Therefore, when Jim made his stage debut at the age of eight, it was more through inevitability than through personal interest and drive.

While admitting that he's "always been part of the theatre," Jim has also confessed, "I never just said to myself, 'I want to be an actor.'" Yet, when he became one, he was both effective and professional. As the son of Helen Hayes and Charles MacArthur, it could be expected.

Jim attended fine private schools: the Allen Stevenson School in New York; Solebury School in New Hope, Pennsylvania, Harvard University (for one year), where he majored in history.

Like Jack, Jimmy married very young, became a father and lost his first wife through divorce. Also like Jack, he remarried and is now a wonderfully happy husband.

Beyond this, however, there's almost no similarity in Lord's and MacArthur's origins and private lives.

Jack grew up in Brooklyn in a tough neighborhood. To survive, he had to be as rugged as his environment, and he was. Conditioning from his boyhood held over into young manhood so that his wife, Marie, remembers:

"When I first met Jack, he was a football player and had also been in the Merchant Marine. He used to settle everything with his fists, like mariners do. I was aghast! But then the opponents would make up and shake hands and forget it. Now, when I see the devious ways of the world, I think it was probably the cleanest way."

Still, Jack's always been closely attuned to the spiritual. Although he joined the Merchant Marine in his teens and sailed with hard men into rough-and-tumble ports, he took a sketch book with him and, with talented hand and eye, recorded the beautiful things he saw.

His career at New York University recognized both the physical and spiritual sides of Jack so that, as a student, he was an enigma: a tackle going through college on a football scholarship while majoring in fine arts. No previous fine arts major in the history of the school had held a football scholarship. Yet, neither the coach's confidence in Jack nor Jack's interest in his major was misplaced.

Bob Considine called Lord (then known by his real name, Ryan) "one of the best tackles ever turned out by NYU"; and, almost simultaneously, the Metropolitan Museum of Art bought two of his woodcuts and three of his lithographs for its permanent collection.

Jimmy MacArthur played football, too, for three years at Solebury School, where he also captained the basketball team. But he didn't play at Harvard, nor did he have to pay his tuition. This isn't to James' discredit. The comparison between his college life and Jack's is simply a comparison of the crucibles in which each man was tempered.

Lord went to college through the firmness of his muscle and purpose. Jim didn't need varsity football to put him through school.

After graduating from NYU, Jack financed his further education as an automobile salesman. Selling Cadillacs by day and studying by night, he invested three years in the Neighborhood Playhouse and Actors Studio before he junked his job to begin the rounds of Broadway and network casting offices.

His performance in a television show, "An Incident of Love," gave him a part in a Broadway play, "The Traveling Lady," opposite Kim Stanley, and this, in turn, brought him the role of Brick in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Even a magazine which attacked Lord in a recent article paused in its attack to reflect that on Broadway he gave "a powerful, emotion-charged performance."

Through years of study and hours of pavement pounding, Jack had mastered his craft.

Jim, who had literally learned acting at his mother's knee, had eased into the profession almost through osmosis -- almost, in fact, in spite of himself and his parents.

"When I was young," he's recalled, "my parents kept me away from the theatre, because it interfered with school. Still there were opportunities for walk-on parts. . .

Constant exposure to the theatre's finest talent and traditions permeated young MacArthur not only with acting techniques but with a thoroughly professional attitude which makes him the right man to work with Jack Lord.

Among people who don't know him, and who haven't worked on his show, Lord has the reputation of a tyrant, a one-man production company who can tell everyone how to do everything -- and does! The reputation, however, is unfair.

One of Hawaii's leading actors who worked on "Hawaii Five-O" during the first, ticklish year, appraises Lord this way: "He was driving hard. because he didn't know if the show would succeed. He did what was a star's prerogative: rewrote a line, added a bit while in production.

"He was often tense and sometimes impatient, but, if I were trying for the big time, and this were my last chance, I'd be nervous, too. Some of the first directors were very bad, and Lord showed his irritation. I didn't blame him. But he was always nice to me and patient when I flubbed."

A member of the cast says, "Jack is uptight only with a director who's incapable. I've never seem him put down -- or blow up at -- another actor."

Peggy Ryan, a regular in "Hawaii Five-O," tells a story which illustrates Lord's qualities, which another professional actor (like Jim MacArthur) has to respect.

She begins by describing a scene:

"McGarrett has to tell his sister that her child is dying of cancer. The scene takes eight minutes. I wish you could have felt the emotion. Nobody moved on the set, and we began to cry.

"After the first four minutes, the cameraman ran out of film but didn't have the heart to stop Lord because the scene was so great. Finally, after eight minutes, the director said, 'Cut.' Then the cameraman had to admit his flub.

"We held our breath. I've seen stars throw screaming fits over less. Jack paused for a long minute. Then he took a deep breath, wiped his face and said very softly, 'Okay. We'll do it again.' He did. The whole, blasted eight minutes. It was even greater!"

A principal ingredient of any fine actor's talent is sensitivity, and, because Lord has it, he could empathize with the cameraman. He also respects him.

Since Lord and MacArthur have important traits in common -- professionalism, talent, dedication to the success of "Five-O" -- one would assume they'd be close off camera. This, however, would be a very false assumption.

It's true that in their private lives they have at least one mutual passion: an enthusiasm for good art. But this isn't enough to make them buddies.

When they aren't working, they seldom see each other.

"I think one of the big reasons they never get together away from the set is the long hours they have to work," a friend of the two says firmly. "You've got to realize that they work six days a week. On his one, precious day off, why would any guy want to spend time with a fellow from the office?"

Yet more than over-exposure to each other during working hours keeps Lord and MacArthur apart when they don't have to be together. For Jim and his wife do invest some of his treasured free time with other members of the cast.

The MacArthurs pop in at the homes of Kono and Zulu and vice-versa. On the other hand, Jim and Melody have only visited the Lords' apartment once, and that was for a cocktail party planned through CBS to entertain network VIP's. Further, though Jack has stopped by Jim's place, he's never had dinner with the MacArthurs, nor has he brought his wife to call.

The Lords don't specifically slight the MacArthurs. They simply eschew almost all social life. Some neighbors who share their luxurious apartment building complain that they are "stand-offish," because they neither extend nor accept cocktail invitations. Yet, if they'd remember Jack's schedule, they'd understand why a full social life is an impossibility for the star and his wife.

A Sunday night dinner in a good restaurant -- just the two of them together with no outsiders -- is their idea of a big evening.

"We live like hermits," Jack admits. "We love to be alone."

Marie gets up at 3:30 a.m. every workday to brew Jack's coffee and bake his biscuits. Fresh out of bed, Jack exercises while Marie goes over his lines with him. Then he eats what he calls "a whopping big breakfast."

While Jack's at work, Marie answers his fan mail, selects produce at Times Supermarket in Waialae, putters in her superbly equipped kitchen and, if she has time left, designs her husband's shirts!

Jack says, "I can't wait to get home at night! I have a wonderful wife. She separates the wheat from the chaff for me. My life began when I met her."

He concedes that some women might get lonely as isolated from the social whirl as Marie is. But Jack insists she's content. She doesn't miss the career she had as a successful fashion designer or pine for a bridge game with the girls.

"Her career is taking care of me," Jack says. "That's a full-time job."

Marie answers, "Lots of women do as much and are as much to their husbands, but the difference is Jack appreciates it and that's what makes the difference. Multiply that appreciation by years, multiply his constancy -- and you will understand."

Since their marriage, every one of Jack's contracts has stipulated, at his insistence, that Marie go with him wherever he must go.

Home from a day on the set, Jack eats little or nothing, sinks into a long, relaxing bath, studies his script and goes to bed early.

On Saturdays, wearing an old smock, he paints, while Marie continues her household chores. "Marrying Marie is the smartest thing I ever did." Jack says with authority and, in all likelihood, truth.

When Melody Patterson MacArthur first settled in Hawaii as James' bride, her life was as isolated as Marie Lord's, and Melody, differing from Marie, couldn't accept it.

Since Jim isn't a breakfast-eater, be habitually slipped off to work without awakening his bride, so that for months the new Mrs. MacArthur seldom saw her husband except on Sundays. She longed for her friends and family on the Mainland.

Now, however, she's come to love Hawaii as much as she loves Jim, and the two of them have developed as lively a social life as his limited leisure permits.

"My secret for a happy marriage is to keep your wife barefooted and not pregnant," Jim smiles.

Though the MacArthurs' apartment is stylishly Eastern (New York, not Hong Kong) in decor, appointed with exquisite antiques Melody found through judicious shopping, and fine paintings Jim has collected, including some he inherited from his father, its occupants dress casually. They favor bare feet and beach clothes even when they are dining from a table set with expensive china and silver. And there's not a rattan settee in the place. Nevertheless, Jim and Melody are as relaxed as a pair of beach bums.

Jack and James have personalities as different as Melody's and Marie's. The wives, though. have one strong trait in common. Each loves her man completely and is happy to sacrifice for him.

Marie's sacrifices are obvious. Yet Melody also devotes her life to her husband. She has given up her acting career while James is co-starring in "Hawaii Five-O." However. she has been modeling since she's been in Hawaii.

Jim and Jack aren't pals. They don't drink beer after work or play golf or poker together.

Yet, on camera, they have the professionalism to work well together. And, off camera, each claims the same most treasured possession -- the perfect love of a perfectly lovely woman