Monday, November 1, 2010

James MacArthur (Dec 8, 1937 – Oct 28, 2010)

James Gordon MacArthur (December 8, 1937 – October 28, 2010)

James was an American actor best known for the role of Danny "Danno" Williams, the reliable second-in-command of the fictional Hawaiian State Police squad Hawaii Five-O.

In 1967, Leonard Freeman, the producer of Hang 'Em High, made the pilot for a new television cop show, Hawaii Five-O. Before it went to air, the pilot was well-received by test audiences, except for some dislike of the actor playing Dan Williams. Freeman remembered MacArthur's portrayal of the traveling preacher in Hang 'Em High: He had come on the set and done the scene in one take. He called MacArthur and offered him the role of Dan Williams. Hawaii Five-O ran for twelve years — eleven with MacArthur. Leaving Hawaii Five-O at the end of its eleventh season, MacArthur returned to the theatre, appearing in The Lunch Hour with Cybill Shepherd.

He appeared in A Bedfull of Foreigners in Chicago in 1984, and in Michigan in 1985. He followed this with The Hasty Heart, before taking a year out of show business. In 1987, he returned to the stage in The Foreigner, then played Mortimer in the national tour of Arsenic and Old Lace with Jean Stapleton, Marion Ross and Larry Storch. In 1989, he followed another stint in The Foreigner with Love Letters and, in 1990–1991, A Bedfull of Foreigners, this time in Las Vegas.

After leaving Hawaii Five-O, McArthur guest-starred on such television shows as Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Vega$, as well as in the mini series Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story and The Night the Bridge Fell Down, and in the 1998 television movie Stormchasers: Revenge of the Twister, with Kelly McGillis.

Throughout his career, MacArthur had also found time for various other ventures. From 1959–60, he partnered with actor James Franciscus and Alan Ladd, Jr. in a Beverly Hills telephone answering service; in June 1972, he directed The Honolulu Community Theatre in a production of his father's play The Front Page, and, for a period in the 1990s he was part-owner of Senior World publication, as well as writing the occasional celebrity interview. In 2000 MacArthur was awarded his own "sidewalk star" in Palm Springs. He continued to appear at conventions, collectors' shows, and celebrity sporting events. A keen golfer, he was the winner of the 2002 Frank Sinatra Invitational Charity Golf Tournament.

He also appeared in television and radio specials and interview programs. His most recent appearances include spots on Entertainment Tonight, Christopher's Closeup and the BBC Radio 5 Live obituary program Brief Lives, in which he paid tribute to his Hawaii Five-O castmate, the late Kam Fong. In 1997, MacArthur returned without Jack Lord (who was in declining health) to play Governor Danny Williams in the 1997 unaired pilot of Hawaii Five-O which starred actor Gary Busey. In April 2003, he traveled to Honolulu's historic Hawaii Theatre for a cameo role in Joe Moore's play Dirty Laundry. Negotiations were underway in late 2010 for MacArthur to make a cameo appearance in the new CBS prime time remake of Hawaii Five-0 at the time of his death.

MacArthur died of natural causes on October 28, 2010, age 72, at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. He was survived by his third wife, H. B. Duntz, and his four children and six grandchildren.

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