October 29, 2010 in Nation/World

Actor James MacArthur, 72, dies

Valerie J. Nelson Los Angeles Times

James MacArthur, an actor best known for portraying Detective Danny “Danno” Williams on the original “Hawaii Five-0,” the TV series that turned “Book ’em, Danno” into a national catchphrase, has died. He was 72.

MacArthur, who also appeared in the classic Disney film “Swiss Family Robinson,” died of natural causes Thursday in Florida, said his agent, Richard Lewis.

From 1968 to 1979, MacArthur appeared on “Hawaii Five-0” as the chief assistant to Detective Steve McGarrett, played by Jack Lord, who often ended episodes of the police drama by uttering the famous line.

“He said ‘book him’ to others in the cast, but I guess he said it to me the most,” MacArthur told Florida’s Bradenton Herald in 2007. “It wasn’t anything we really thought about at first.”

A year before “Hawaii Five-0” ended its run in 1980, MacArthur left the hit show.

Born Dec. 8, 1937, in Los Angeles, MacArthur was the adopted son of actress Helen Hayes, who was dubbed the first lady of the American theater, and Charles MacArthur, a playwright and screenwriter.

He attended Harvard University but eventually left to pursue a film career that featured him as a tortured teen in such dramatic films as “The Young Stranger” (1957) and “Light in the Forest” (1958).

MacArthur played Hayley Mills’ first boyfriend in “The Truth About Spring” (1965) and later joked: “I gave Hayley her first screen kiss. Somebody had to do it.”

When the “Hawaii Five-0” pilot was screened for a test audience, they liked the show but thought Tim O’Kelly, who was cast as Lord’s assistant, was too young. Writer Leonard Freeman asked MacArthur if he would like the part.

“I read a script and said, ‘Heck, yes,’ ” MacArthur said in 2007.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email