The Cop Who Cares
Jack Lord has led Hawaii Five-0 to the top of the TV ratings.
Now meet ?The Monk??and Mrs. Monk
Hollywood has a new phrase: A Hyphenated-Man. It?s a laudatory work with some of the nuances of A Renaissance Man. In print, it looks like this: Writer-Director-Actor-Producer. You don?t become a hyphenated-man overnight but metamorphose through stages - often disruptive, sometimes painful. Those who make it stride with pride. There are not many of them around.
Jack Lord, star and part owner of Hawaii Five-0 is a hyphenated-man-and-then-some. To writer-director-actor-producer, add athlete-painter-collector-gourmet-photographer-businessman. He laughs at the hyphens. What he likes to be called is a "cop who cares."
And that?s the heart of the TV series that began, woodenly two and one-half years ago in an old military warehouse near Pearl City. There was local head shaking over the contrived plots and hackneyed lines. Kamaainas howled that the show would spoil Hawaii?s image. All that shooting in Paradise?
"The physical problems alone were enormous," Lord recalls. "It took us an hour and a half to get out there. The set was primitive. The place was alive with cockroaches. Sometimes geckos chirped so loudly we had to re-shoot. Then a mongoose would run right past Danno and me. But we knew that any new show takes a year or two to shake down"
Lord & Company shook and, in the fashion of a hyphenated-man, strove mightily for excellence. This past summerHawaii Five-0 startled the industry by hitting No. 1 on the Neilsen ratings - that?s No. 1 our of the top 40 TV shows in America. It?s No. 1 in England, also.
Pretty good for a two-year-old.
Formula for Success: Virile cop with intense eyes; crime; the inevitable chase; surf and palm trees!
Rugged Days at Ruger
Location: Stage One, Hawaii Five-0 at Fort Ruger
Date: Mid-summer, 10:30 A.M.
Episode: "Trouble in Mind" with guest star, singer Nancy Wilson, playing a junkie
Dramatic Problem: Who put rat poison in the heroin that resulted in the death of a junkie and five others?
On Stage: Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) and Kono (Zulu) in their Iolani Palace office discussing a problem. This is the seventh "take" since 6 A.M. It?s been a rough morning.
Scene: Actors rehearse lines. Sound and camera equipment jockey into position. A crew of 70moves about the sound studio in a seemingly mad, man/machine ballet with no discernable pattern. Suddenly director Danny Arnold calls:
"Quiet! Settle! Let?s try it!"
Instant silence as men and machines miraculously swing into position. Freeze. Intense concentration as sound boom positions, camera turns. McGarrett?s chiseled face - perturbed, speculative, worried - turns to Kono. Dialogue begins. Suddenly a jet whines overhead.
"Cut!" calls Arnold. "I swear there are more planes in Hawaii than on the entire Mainland!" Crew relaxes, then?
McGarrett interrogates Kono. Someone drops a bucket.
"Cut!" Arnold turns imperiously like Caesar at the Forum and squint-eyed the bucket dropper.
McGarrett swings into position. Dialogue proceeds. McGarrett blows a line.
He spits out a common expletive, shakes his fingers hard, slaps his hands together, rolls his eyes, shakes his head as if to clear it and grabs script. He repeats his lines sotto voce.
"Today?s been like that spaghetti commercial," says a sweating crewman, "you know the one where everything goes wrong and finally the stove door falls in the spaghetti."
"Again. Quiet!" calls Arnold.
Keester Sweeney (who made up Gable, Garbo and Harlow) daubs McGarrett?s sweat shine.
This time the scene is flawless.
"Very good. Cut."
Lord sighs, turns, smiles and with the supple gait of a top-conditioned athlete, walks over to me.
"Let?s have some coffee and talk," he says while those deep. Trouble McGarrett eyes that luminance from millions of TV sets beam right in to size up the interviewer. We start in by his interviewing me and, finally, getting on to his game, I parry with an abrupt question:
"What?s the philosophy behind Hawaii Five-0?"
"The theme is clear,? answers Lord instantly. "We have a positive thing here. This is a police show. The message is that violence begets violence. Violence never solves anything. Anyone watching on any level, of any age, background or circumstances - anyone, subliminally, will get that message. We are a modern morality play.?
Rehearsing at Makaha at left and Lord and MacArthur going over their lines at right
"Lennie (Leonard Freeman is the executive producer and part owner of Hawaii Five-0. Jack Lord and CBS are the other owners. Mr. Lord declines to reveal what his percentage is.) and I set out to do this: We tried to avoid the conventional cop. The traps were set - you know what I mean - the hard-nosed cop in Dragnet, I Spy, Felony Squad. We tried to avoid the theme in those shows.
"McGarrett is a cop with first class training but he?s also a man with a man?s weaknesses. He loses his temper. He makes mistakes but he apologizes. He?s a compassionate man - a bleeder. He? is often torn. But most important of all, he cares."
"Your show?s often criticized because there?s so much violence."
"Yes, I know. The first criticism came from the kamaainas who said it would damage Hawaii?s image. But now they are changing. We were highly criticized when we opened one episode, Speed Kills, with a young girl, under the influence of LSD, hurling herself off a cliff. Of course, it was a violent scene but the message was there. We?re teaching. We?re teaching with parables and the message comes through. We?re getting 5,000 letters a week now. A large percentage comes from professional people - doctors, lawyers, ministers and parents-who-care.
"Our format?s always a major crime, a high felony against the state. Never a crime on a precinct level. Those crimes are here. Count up the bank robberies this simmer. The State of Hawaii's not seeking help to combat growing crime."
"Ready," calls the director. "So long," says Lord. "I?ll be back."
Jimmy MacArthur (Danno) whom Lord calls "My Strong Right Arm" quietly studies his lines, oblivious to the chaos around him. Among the assorted types, ages, sizes and costumes he looks immaculately tailored and coolly handsome.
The mad ballet begins again. An assistant cameraman, wearing a crazy lime green crocheted cap, trips on a cable. Quiet blasphemy. The company bus driver, Louis Ko, crochets during long waits and gives his bright handiwork to the crew.
"Stand-ins ready!" Nancy Hackleman, in hip hugger jeans and rib-tight sweater, moves under the hot spot. Jerry Lundberg, reading Valley of the Dolls and present in body only, holds McGarrett?s position. Fifteen spots on the perimeter of the Iolani Palace office "koa" walls blaze down. The humming air conditioners are turned off.
Heat rises rapidly. Camera dolly moves into position. A sound boom operator practices the movements of his agile mike. It tumbles over the stand-ins like a Japanese rice bird!
Lord - his coffee-break geniality gone - takes his place. Suddenly the main spotlight blows out. General laughter, but not from the head electrician.
"Come on boys, we?re laughing ourselves into midnight. Get another globe on the double." A boy comes running in with an enormous globe. It?s inserted into the big spot - flickers - and blows out.
?Those goddamn gloves cost $66 wholesale," says a cameraman. "We coulda bought a whole case of Scotch for what that bum globe costs!"
Another globe is inserted and blazes brilliantly.
"OK. We go!" shouts Arnold.
The Visible Vibrations
During the next scene, McGarrett chews out Kono. His anger is deep but controlled. Tension flows out I almost visible vibrations in the 100-degree heat. Oddly, 10 feet away I can scarcely hear Lord speak. Peggy Ryan, who plays Jennie, McGarrett's secretary, stands waiting her cue.
"How do you describe his acting?" I ask Peggy.
"He?s so under - so low keyed - it?s spooky. When I?m acting with him I speak more quietly than I have ever spoken in my life."
Jennie walks on and does her little shtick, actorese for a "little bit of business."
"Good! Cut!" Lord swings back to chat.
"You never register great highs or lows in your acting," I observe. "Control is McGarrett?s hallmark. Are you emotionally involved in these episodes?"
"I am very emotionally involved," says Lord. "I come alive under an imaginary situation. People think acting is talking. No. It?s emotion. I?m an instrument. I dredge up joy or anger or fear. I use myself totally. Sometimes, after a day?s work, the emotional drain is so great I go home and eat only an omelet or a piece of fruit. You?ve got to be a maniac to be in this business ? and a dedicated maniac to survive."
The load is tremendous. CBS is shooting 24 episodes this season, from April through December, with no breaks. It takes eight days to make one episode - Saturdays off - and the cost is around $210,000 each. CBS has spent $12 million on 60 episodes to date and $9 million of this has remained in Hawaii. Each episode is exactly 48.5 minutes long. The other 12.5 minutes are used for commercials. It?s an exact science. Sometimes the company works 12 to 18 hours a day.
"How do you prepare for the day?s shooting?"
"I get up before dawn and work out for 30 minutes. I can memorize 10 pages in an hour if the script is simple. But, if it?s highly dramatic ? and if there are twists and turns and under-currents in the theme - it takes a long time to memorize. Sometimes I blow a line like today. I slap my hands and roll my eyes and shake my head to break the tension. Then I start all over again."
Jack jogs at Kahala Beach
"Why has the tough cop with a compassionate heart never been involved in a romantic episode? Aren?t you a sex symbol?"
Lord breaks out laughing. "We get lots of mail from women who ask exactly that question. But be patient. One?s coming up next season."
Lunch break is announced. There is general relief as the hot, tired crew walks away.
When the Army Moves
Hawaii Five-O Stage One was built at Fort Ruger in April, 1969. The huge building that houses innumerable indoor sets covers 12,000 square feet and cost $200,000. Soundproofing alone cost $175,000.
Parked around the big lot are 17 pieces of mobile equipment, ready to transport crew and gear to special locations. There are two generator trucks. The "honey Wagon" has men?s and women?s facilities on one end and dressing rooms on the other.
The commissary truck, which carries two cooks and equipment to prepare meals for 70 persons, is followed by a truck with benches, tables, cutlery, etc. Add autos for crew, directors, featured players and star, and it?s easy to see thatHawaiiFive-0 requires the logistics of an army.
By far the most intriguing piece of rolling equipment is Jack Lord?s "motor home," a dressing room that?s a grown-up boy?s fantasy of how to camp, star style. The all-steel deluxe "camper" is build on a 330-horsepower bus chassis.
Today we queue with the crew and a cook heaps our plates with roast beef, mushroom gravy, rice and beans. There are platters of cool salads, bowls of fresh fruit, beverages and an ice cream bar.
Meantime, Jack?s mobile home has been driven nearby and we carry our trays into his cool "land yacht".
The cop who cares drops his cares, but not his concern for his guests. He pours glasses of icy white wine. Music flows softly from some place. Behind the table is a serigraph by Sister Mary Carita with this legend by Thoreau:
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears however measured or far away.
The mobile dressing room is decorated in deep greens, lemon yellow and splashes of bright color. On one side are flush counters, inset with a sink with hot and cold water, a water purifier and a stove.
The Swedish refrigerator runs on either gas or electricity and is stocked with cold drinks and Eskimo pies, which Jack is mad about. On the opposite side are two sofas that convert to beds, a dressing table with a shampoo bowl, a shower and two big closets for Steve McGarrett?s changes. The run on shirts is heavy as make-up smears his collars. The telephone on the dashboard has one line directly to the mainland.
Marie greets Perry Laferty, a CBS VIP.
Jack talks easily about his beginnings and youth. Born December 30, 1930, his ascension into the starry firmament has been a 40-year journey for the Brooklyn-born boy whose father was a steamship company executive. His mother?s family ran a fruit farm in the Hudson River valley where he learned the expert horseback riding seen in the TV series Stoney Burke. His tough Brooklyn neighborhood was populated with Jewish, Italian, Polish and Irish kids who had their own set of rules.
"How did a nice Irish boy hold his own?" I ask.
"Easy!" said the future McGarrett with a flash of chutzpah.
Jack is a product of the New York City school system that awarded him the St. Gaudens Plaque for art. During high school vacations, he signed on as a seaman, roving the world on freighters while filling his notebooks with sketches of the China coast, Africa and the Mediterranean.
The Gridiron Artist
Later, after a tour of duty as a merchant marine officer, he won a football scholarship to New York University where he majored in fine arts, a rarity in the gridiron set.
Working on training films during the Korean War, he became fascinated with filming and acting techniques that led to a three-year drama stint at the Neighborhood Playhouse and Actors Studio. He earned his tuition by working as a Cadillac salesman by day and studying at night, averaging five hours of sleep. When he quit selling Cadillacs, he was earning $18,000 a year.
"But I was hearing a different drummer," he said, and began the rounds of Broadway and network casting offices. Bit parts came and then recognition in a TV show called An Incident of Love. This led to the role of Slim Murray opposite Kim Stanley in The Traveling Lady.
Lord?s hit role was Brick in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof and the direction of his life was set, or so he thought: a home in Hollywood and a career divided between New York theater and TV.
Then Hawaii Five-0 was conceived. The rest is history: the Neilsen rating: 33 lines in the new listing of Who?s Who in America. Five-0 is now seen on 200 different affiliate stations in the U.S. and in 35 foreign countries. The residuals from the re-runs alone will make Jack a millionaire.
"We have a strong point in Five-0 that most shows don?t have," says Lord. "That is Leonard Freeman, the man who conceived the show, saw it through 32 months of changes?stops and goes?near misses?pigeon holes?shelving of it, and so forth. He?s also a top writer. He goes over every script and few things get past him.
But we do certain refinements on the spot such as a flash of inspiration, a new lighting condition, the things that come into play in this moment-to-moment business of television production. Everyone knows what to do. We have a handpicked staff of experts in a very technical business. We strive for quality but it?s easy to slough off after being cooped up together for 12 hours. It can be deadly and you think: ?Oh, hell! Let?s go home? but you can?t. Anger is very close to the surface then. But I get angrier with myself than anyone. You know ? sometimes you strike an A note but you don?t get an A back. That?s when I?ve had to learn to temper myself. Humor is the leveler then. I don?t allow ?shouters.? I don?t believe in it."
What?s it like to work with Lord on the set? One of the Island?s leading actors, who was in the show the first year, says:
"He was driving hard because he didn?t know if the show would succeed. He did what is 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 was 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 veteran cast member, still an integral part of the show, says, "There is a new director with each episode. Jack is uptight only with a director who?s incapable. I have never seen him put down - or blow up - at another actor. When Jack comes on the set from his trailer, we snap to. He gets right into his character. He IS McGarrett. People have called Jack The Great Stone Face and say he does just one thing. Well, don?t believe it."
Peggy Ryan has a story of significance: Jack?s real character as an actor showed a few months ago. It?s in one of the new episodes. McGarrett has to tell his sister that her child id 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 he didn?t have the heart to stop Lord because the scene was so great. Finally, after eight minutes, the director said "cut." The cameraman had to admit his flub.
"We all held our breath. I?ve seen stars throw screaming fits over less. Jack paused for a long minute. Then he took a very 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!"
Lord and Lady
Jack and Marie Lord live a totally private life in a luxurious apartment at the Kahala Beach. Deep-pile avocado green carpeting, off-white walls and simple, low-keyed furnishings create an excellent setting for Jack?s paintings and a few of the world-famous artists whom they collect. Jack?s canvases range from realistic still lifes to romantic impressionism to mystic abstractions. His range is impressive and his color as bold as a McGarrett decision.
As he turns table on an interviewer, he also turns the camera on a photographer, asking what speed, lens, etc. is being used on him. Photography is another hobby, which has placed his photos in national and international magazines.
"But painting is my release and my renewal," says Lord, who admits his oils not bring $1,000 and up and he sells them "off the easel." During his senior year in college, five of his works were acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His paintings and graphics are now represented in 40 museums and universities, including the Museum of Modern Art, Corcoran Gallery, Bibliotheque Nation in Paris, and the Whitney Museum in New York.
Jack and Marie and her 19-inch waist
On Saturday?s he paints in an old be-spattered wrap-around while Marie putters in her beautiful kitchen. If he?s working on the cool ocean-front lanai and drops a paint brush on the white vinyl floor, he uses the same merchant marine expletive he uses on the set. With this variation: in deference to his Gallic wife he switches to the French version, "merde!"
Jack speaks with devotion about the wife he met and married 17 years ago when she was Marie de Narde, a New York dress designer. She?s American-born of French parents.
"Marrying Marie was the smartest thing I ever did. We love to be alone (they have no children). We live like monks. Mr. Monk and Mrs. Monk. Marie gets up at 3:30 to brew my coffee. I?m up at 4. She cues me on my lines and I exercise, followed by a whopping big breakfast."
"What do you like best about her cooking?"
"Her 19-inch waist," he replies enjoying his non sequitur.
Marie moves with equal skill between French, Italian, Spanish, Mexican and American cooking while keeping a sensational figure. She prefers to remain in the background but is often seen at Times Supermarket in Waialae, brightly scarfed and wearing dark glasses, pouring carefully over produce like a good French housewife. There has been conjecturing over the fact that Marie always covers her hair in public. She knows it and laughs:
"I can?t stand to waste time at the hairdressers and I hate the dryer."
At home, her dark, curly hair is pulled back in simple, schoolgirl fashion, held by a ribbon or a band. It blows easily in the trades. In public, she wears glamorous ostrich feather cloches, big hats or bandeaux. She?s fascinated by beautiful fabrics and designs all her clothes, which have considerable originality and dash, abetted by that enviable figure.
Her kitchen is a housewife?s dream. All the cabinets and appliances are a soft pumpkin-orange color and the floor is a rare kappa shell vinyl. Wallpaper is in stylish floral print.
"I don?t like antiseptic kitchens and want utensils right where I can reach them." There are huge bowls of fresh fruit and vegetables (Jack borrows them for his still lifes) and near the sink hangs a big wire basket of potatoes. "Something nice happens to potatoes when you let them breathe and absorb natural warmth, she says with Gallic authority.
In the center of the kitchen is an English cart of anodized aluminum. She assembles meals on it and then wheels it for dinner for two some place, depending on the mood of the moment.
"If Jack is held up on set what happens to one of your gourmet dishes?"
"Sometimes they are ruined," she replies sadly. "But there is always tomorrow. When things aren?t going just right and Jack is blue, I fill the apartment with the scent of tomato paste. It always cheers him up." And her beautiful wide mouth curls up in the corners, as Cleopatra?s was supposed to have curled, in secret sweetness - a rarity in women.
On Sunday nights, the Lords dine out - usually alone- ? in the Mail Room of the Kahala Hilton. During the week, Marie spends hours, often with a secretary, on the mountains of minutiae - personal mail, requests, invitations, donations, business details of their new venture, Lord & Lady - all the often-boring business that accompanies international stardom.
The Core of the Matter
What is the core of the Lord?s special relationship?
"Lots of women do as much and are as much to their husbands," says Marie, "but the difference is that Jack appreciates it - and that?s what makes the difference. Multiply that appreciation by years, multiply his constancy - and you will understand.
"When I first met him he was a football player and had also been in the Merchant Marines. He used to settle everything with his fists like mariners do. I was aghast! But then the opponents would make up, shake hands and forget it. Now, when I see the devious ways of the world, I think it was probably the cleanest way. And it?s McGarrett?s way - and that?s why he?s right for the part.
"Yes, I devote myself to Jack. I think every creative person needs someone to take care of him. The world can befizzle you and destroy creativity. I am his refuge."
What do Honolulu people think of the star-spangled Lords? Everyone has an opinion and it ranges from high praise to potshots, if they don?t like Five-0. The Lords are rarely seen socially and are never "on the circuit." Actually, their social friends are few in number.
If it doesn?t matter to them, it does seem to matter a bit to Honolulu. Some occupants of the Kahala Beach Apartments are critical of their standoffish neighbors and several noses are out of joint because the Lords neither accept - nor extend - cocktail invitations.
But an acquaintance says: "They don?t mix for very good reasons. His schedule is harrowing." And another: "He?s a star and a very attractive man. There?s none of this running around with starlets and he has plenty of opportunity. He keeps his nose clean. Marie and Jack live with quiet dignity."
And another: "They don?t care. Marie gave up everything for Jack. Her eyes seldom leave his face. He calls her several times a day when he?s on the set. They are complete. It?s tea for two."
How Long, Oh Lord?
The hyphenated-man is now the No. 1 man on the No 1 TV show. How long can he remain a "fixed" star?
"Gunsmoke is 14 years old," he says. "The challenge is to keep Five-0 fresh. We now know where our show is going - it?s possibilities and limitations.
"I live it from moment to moment. There?s the excitement of new scripts, new actors, even amateurs. Sometimes the very naivet? of a new person gives me a spark. It?s working - and that?s what?s going to keep this show on top."
The new series has begun. The next few weeks will determine what TV show hits the top of the ratings and no matter what happens to Five-0, and any way you look it, our Lord has risen.