LOS ANGELES, CA – He played “Danno” in the first series of “Hawaii Five-0” and died on Thursday at the age of 72 after a long career on stage and film. Richard Lewis, MacArthur’s agent, stated that the actor died in Florida of “natural causes,” although he did not provide any other information.
As Detective Danny “Danno” Williams on “Hawaii Five-0” from 1968 to 1980, MacArthur was best known for a career that lasted more than four decades. “Book ’em, Danno” was uttered by detective Steve McGarrett, the show’s protagonist, at the close of many episodes. He was the actor that played McGarrett, Jack Lord, and he died in 1998. Prior to the final season of the show, MacArthur stepped down as McGarrett’s sidekick. As he admitted on his website, “I became tired.” There was a decrease in the level of challenge I was dealt with as an actor since the plots grew more and more predictable.
The 278 episodes of “Hawaii Five-O,” one of television’s longest-running series, were shot on location in the Hawaiian islands. As far as I know, this was the first national TV show with a Hawaii-based cast. A fresh cast has been cast in this season’s remake of the show on CBS.
The Beginnings of A Person’s Life
MacArthur was adopted by playwright Charles MacArthur and his actress wife Helen Hayes when he was a baby and grew up in Los Angeles. He was raised in Nyack, New York, along with his older sister, Mary MacArthur, who died of polio in 1949. When he was a student at Allen-Stevenson School in New York, he was an all-star basketball player and football and baseball player.
After graduating from Solebury, MacArthur served as the president of the student government, as well as acting as Scrooge in a local production of A Christmas Carol. He also served as the class president, as well as editor of the school newspaper, The Scribe; he also served as a guard on the football team. The future actress Joyce Bulifant was a classmate of his who he began seeing, and they married in November 1958 but divorced nine years later. MacArthur grew up in a household full of writers and actors who inspired him to pursue a career in the arts. In addition to John Steinbeck, John Barrymore, Harpo Marx, Ben Hecht, and Beatrice Lillie, his godmother Lillian Gish hosted a variety of notable visitors, including humorist Robert Benchley and author John Steinbeck (whose grandson, Jaws-author Peter Benchley, was three years behind James at Allen-Stevenson).
As a Student
In 1948, he appeared in his first radio role on Theatre Guild on the Air. It was the most popular radio show of its era, with one-hour dramas performed in front of an audience of 800. As a result, Hayes was cast in one of the plays, which also had a minor role for an underage actor. Her son consented to participate after being asked whether he wanted to.
During a two-week run in The Corn Is Green in Olney, Maryland in 1949, MacArthur made his professional stage debut. Their mother called to ask if James could join his sister Mary in the play in Olney, and he agreed to go there as well.
When he returned to Dennis, Massachusetts, the following summer to reprise the role, his acting career had begun. ‘
Howard Lindsay and Dorothy Stickney cast him as John Day in their 1954 film Life with Father. This actor’s Broadway career began only after he graduated from the summer stock stage. Among his many responsibilities on set, he was a set painter, a lighting director, and the parking lot manager. When the Falmouth Playhouse on Cape Cod hosted a Helen Hayes Festival, the actor had a few minor roles. As a result of his efforts with the theatre electrician, he was allowed to stay on after his mother’s performances had ended. It is because of this that he lit the show for Barbara Bel Geddes and Gloria Vanderbilt.
Phyllis Thaxter, Edward Arnold, and Macdonald Carey starred in “Deal a Blow,” a John Frankenheimer-directed episode of Climax! in which he played Hal Ditmar at the age of 18. The New York Times praised his performance, calling it “simply splendid. MacArthur returned to the big screen the following year as The Young Stranger in Frankenheimer’s film adaptation of the play.
For his performance in the 1958 BAFTA award-winning film, he was awarded a nomination for Most Promising Newcomer for the second time A W. R. Burnett adaptation was announced for MacArthur and his mother, Susan Strasberg, in late 1956, but the film was never made.
Once again appearing on the small screen for Westinghouse, Studio One, and Westinghouse Desilu, MacArthur made a comeback in World in White (1957).