Thursday, October 28, 2010

James MacArthur Dies at 72

Actor James MacArthur, the son of a famous theatrical family and the star of Disney films and TV's HAWAII FIVE-O, has passed away at the age of 72.

MacArthur was the son of playwright Charles MacArthur (THE FRONT PAGE) and actress Helen Hayes.

MacArthur's earliest film roles included a string of titles for Disney, starting with the relatively little-known THE LIGHT IN THE FOREST (1958) and continuing through THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN (1959), KIDNAPPED (1960), and most notably Disney's classic SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (1960).

The long-running series HAWAII FIVE-O started in 1968. MacArthur played Detective Danny Williams, whose character inspired the classic line "Book 'em, Danno."

MacArthur's last screen appearance was in 1998.

One of MacArthur's most prominent film roles was playing the oldest son, Clay-Boy Spencer, in SPENCER'S MOUNTAIN (1963), starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara. The film was based on an Earl Hamner novel which -- after giving the characters name changes -- also inspired TV's THE WALTONS.

Coincidentally, two other actors associated with Earl Hamner projects have recently passed away. Character actor John Crawford, a WALTONS semiregular as Sheriff Ep Bridges, died in September at the age of 90. Crawford had over 200 screen credits.

And Chao-Li Chi, who played the butler on the Hamner-created series FALCON CREST, died October 16th. He was 83. His last role came two years ago in an episode of PUSHING DAISIES.

Update: The L.A. Times has now posted a complete obituary of MacArthur.

Friday Update: A nice tribute from 50 Westerns From the 50s.


Blogger DKoren said...

Aw, so sad. :-(

11:35 PM  
Blogger C.K. Dexter Haven said...

I'm a HUGE Hawaii Five-O fan and even wrote an email two years ago to Mr. MacArthur telling him how much I appreciated his work. The last two times I was in Walt Disney World, my wife and I visited the Swiss Family treehouse and I couldn't help but think of him in his pre-Danno days.

A common sentiment I've noticed on various message boards is the surprise on Mac's age, 72; it's as though many still remember him as young, freshfaced Danny Williams. He really made an impression on many of us who watched him way back when.

Pernell Roberts, Peter Graves, Robert Culp, and now James MacArthur... :(

2:05 AM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

It's no surprise that people only remember him as a young man because he basically stopped acting after Hawaii 5-0. Sounds like a lucky fellow. Invested his money wisely and enjoyed himself.

10:32 AM  

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