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Hawaii Five-O is an Americanmarker television series that starred Jack Lord in the lead role for a fictional Hawaiimarker state police department. The show ran for 12 seasons, from 1968 to 1980. The twelfth season was repackaged into syndication under the title McGarrett.


The CBS television network produced the program, which aired from September 20, 1968 to April 5, 1980. Currently, the program is broadcast in syndication throughout the world and on-demand streaming media via CBS Interactive.Created by Leonard Freeman, Hawaii Five-O was shot on location in Honolulu, Hawaiimarker, and throughout the island of Oahumarker as well as other Hawaiian islands — with occasional filming in other locales like Los Angelesmarker, Singaporemarker and Hong Kongmarker.

Hawaii Five-O centers on a fictional state police force (named in honor of Hawaii's status as the 50th State) led by former Navy officer Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord), who was appointed by the Governor Paul Jameson (Richard Denning). McGarrett was assisted regularly by State Police officers — a young officer, Danny Williams (played by Tim O'Kelley in the show's pilot, but replaced in the regular series by James MacArthur), Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong) and Kono Kalakaua (Zulu). Later, Honolulu Police Department Officer Duke Lukela (Herman Wedemeyer) joined the team as a regular, as did Ben Kokua (Al Harrington) who replaced Kono. Occasionally, they were assisted by other officers on an "as-needed" basis. During the course of the show, the team was also assisted regularly by: medical examiner Doc Bergman (Al Eben), forensic specialist Che Fong (Harry Endo) and a secretary. The first secretary was May (Maggi Parker), then Jenny (Peggy Ryan) and later Luana (Laura Sode-Matteson).

For twelve seasons, McGarrett and his team hounded international secret agents, criminals, and Mafia syndicates plaguing the Hawaiian Islands. With the aid of District Attorney and later Hawaii's Attorney General John Manicote (Glenn Cannon), McGarrett was successful in sending most of his enemies to prison. One such Mafia syndicate was led by crime family patriarch Honore Vashon (Harold Gould), a character introduced in the fifth season. Blaming McGarrett for the death of his son, Vashon swore vengeance using all of the resources available to him. Most episodes of Hawaii Five-O ended with the arrest of criminals with McGarrett's catch phrase to Williams, "Book 'em, Danno!", with the offense occasionally added after this phrase, such as "-Murder one!". Other criminals and organized crime bosses on the islands were played by actors such as Ricardo Montalban, Gavin MacLeod, and Ross Martin as Tony Alika. For the 12th and final season, series regular James MacArthur had left the show (in 1996, he admitted he had got tired and wanted to do other things), as did Kam Fong. Unlike other characters before him, Chin Ho did not just vanish from the show but was murdered while working undercover, trying to expose a protection ring in Chinatown (last episode, season 10). Previously Chin's family who lived locally had been mentioned. In this episode, his wife had died and his daughter now lived on the (US) mainland. New characters Jim 'Kimo' Carew (William Smith), Lori Wilson (Sharon Farrell), and Truck (Moe Keale) were introduced in season 12 alongside returning regular Duke Lukela.

The Five-O team consisted of four to five members (small for a real state police unit) and was portrayed as occupying a suite of offices in the Iolani Palacemarker. The office interiors were a soundstage set. Curiously, it lacked its own radio network, necessitating frequent requests by McGarrett to the Honolulu Police Department dispatchers to "Patch me through to Danno". McGarrett's tousled yet immovable hairstyle and proclivity for wearing a dark suit and tie on all possible occasions rapidly entered popular culture.

In many episodes (including the pilot), McGarrett was drawn into the world of international espionage and national intelligence. McGarrett's archnemesis was an intelligence officer of the People's Republic of Chinamarker, Wo Fat. The Communist rogue agent was played by veteran actor Khigh Dheigh. The show's final episode in 1980was titled "Woe to Wo Fat", in which McGarrett finally put his archnemesis in jail.

The show's action and straightforward story-telling left little time for personal stories such as wives and girlfriends, though a two-part story in the first season dealt with the loss of McGarrett's sister's baby. Occasionally, a show would flash back to McGarrett's younger years or to a romantic figure. The viewer is left with the impression that McGarrett, like Dragnet's Joe Friday, is wedded to the police force and to crime-fighting at this point in his life. Tee-totaller McGarrett often worked very late at the office, long after all others had gone home.

In the episode "Number One with a Bullet (Part 2)", McGarrett tells a criminal that "it was a bastard like you who killed my father." His 42 year old father was run down and killed by someone who had just held up a supermarket. Three days later at the funeral, 13 year old Steve McGarrett knew that he wanted to be a cop to stop such people.

Hawaii Five-O survived long enough to see reruns of early episodes enter syndication while new episodes were still being produced. The 12th season was repackaged into syndication under the title McGarrett.

Since McGarrett was also a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, he sometimes used their resources to help investigate and solve crimes, hence the Navy was credited in the closing credits of some episodes.

Creation of the show

The story behind the show's inception is inconsistent. A few sources claim the idea for the show came from a conversation producer Leonard Freeman had with then-Hawaii Governor John A. Burns. The governor's office, Iolani Palacemarker, ultimately became the setting for Five-O headquarters.Another source claims Freeman wanted to set a show in San Pedro, but his friend Richard Boone convinced him to shoot it entirely in Hawaii. A third source claims Freeman discussed the show with Governor Burns only after pitching the idea to CBS.

Before settling on the name "Hawaii Five-O", Freeman considered titling the show "The Man".


Freeman offered Richard Boone the part of McGarrett, although he turned it down; Gregory Peck and Robert Brown were also considered. Jack Lord, then living in Beverly Hills, was asked at the last moment. He read for the part on a Wednesday and got the part and flew to Hawaii two days later. On the following Monday he was in front of the cameras. Freeman and Lord had worked together previously on an unsold TV pilot called Grand Hotel.

Kam Fong, 18-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department, auditioned for the part of Wo Fat, the villain. However, one look at him and Freeman decided he would cast Kam Fong for the part of Chin Ho Kelly. Freeman got the name Wo Fat, the villain of the pilot episode, from a restaurant in downtown Honolulu. The name Chin Ho came from Chinn Ho, the owner of the Ilikai Hotelmarker where the penthouse shot shows Steve McGarrett in the opening titles. Richard Denning, who played the Governor, had retired to Hawaii and was asked to come out of retirement for the show. Zulu was a Waikiki beach boy and a local DJ when he got the part of Kono for the next four years. John Nordlum was hired as a stunt man for Jack Lord.


The first season was shot in a rusty military Quonset hut in Pearl Citymarker, nick-named Mongoose Manor by the actors and cast. The roof leaked and rats gnawed at the cables. The show then moved to a warehouse at 22nd Avenue and Kaimuki (which is now used by the National Guard). A third studio was also built on 18th Avenue at Diamond Head and was used for the next 11 seasons.

A problem from the beginning was the lack of a movie industry in Hawaii. Many people learned their jobs as they went along—not just the crew and main cast, but notably the many local people who ended up in the show. Jack Lord was known as a perfectionist who insisted on the best from everyone. Some suffered from his temper when he felt they did not give their best, but in later reunions, they admitted that Lord’s hard driving force had made them better actors and Hawaii Five-O a better show. Lord’s high standards also helped the show last another seven years after Leonard Freeman’s death at the end of the fifth season while undergoing open heart surgery.

It was rumored for many years that Jack Lord was a silent partner in all aspects of the production of Hawaii Five-O, even more so as the series grew in popularity during the 1970s. To critics and viewers, there was no question that Jack Lord was the center of the show, and that the other actors frequently served as little more than props, standing and watching while McGarrett emoted and paced around his office, analyzing the crime. But occasionally episodes would focus on the other players, and let them showcase their own talents.

Very few episodes were shot outside of Hawaii. At least two episodes were shot in Los Angelesmarker, one in Hong Kongmarker and one in Singaporemarker. Episodes shot in these locations were the only ones not to bear the "Filmed entirely on location in Hawaii" legend.


The opening title sequence was created by noted television director Reza S. Badiyi. The show would begin with a cold open suggesting the sinister plot for the night's program, then cut to a big ocean wave and the start of the dynamic theme song. A fast zoom-in to the top balcony of the Ilikai Hotel would follow, where McGarrett would turn to face the camera, followed by many quick-cuts and freeze-frames of Hawaiian scenery (including, memorably, model Elizabeth Logue turning to face the camera), a grass-skirted hula dancer from the pilot, "Cocoon" (played by Helen Kuoha-Torco, who is now a retired professor from the University of Hawaii community college system), and the supporting players, ending with the flashing blue light of a police motorcycle racing through a Honolulu street.

At the conclusion of an episode, after the obligatory "Book 'em Danno!", Jack Lord would narrate a teaser for the next week's episode, often emphasizing the "guest villain," especially if it was a recurring character such as Khigh Dheigh, Hume Cronyn, etc. He would open by saying "This is Jack Lord inviting you to be with us next week for " and then closing the preview by saying, "Be here...Aloha!" The next episode teasers were removed from the syndicated episodes to clear time for additional commercial sales, although most have been restored in the second, third and fourth season DVD releases.

There are two versions of the closing credits portion. During the first season, the theme music was played, along with a short film of a flashing blue light attached to the rear of a police motorcycle racing through Kalakaua Avenue in Waikikimarker heading west. The film is shown at twice the normal speed, as can be seen for people walking across a crossing behind the police motorcycle. In later seasons, the same music played over a short film of some outrigger canoeists battling the surf.


The show was the longest running crime show on American TV until the police drama Law & Order surpassed it in 2003. The popularity of the Hawaii Five-O format spawned various police dramas on all the major television networks since its debut.

Known for the location, theme song, and ensemble cast, Hawaii Five-O is also noted for its liberal use of exterior location shooting throughout the entire 12 seasons. A typical episode, on average, would have at least two-thirds of all footage shot on location, as opposed to a "typical" show of the time which would be shot largely on sound stages and backlots.

The term "Five-O" was adopted by American youth culture as a street slang term for the police.

The television show Magnum P.I. was created after Hawaii Five-O ended its run in order to make further use of the production equipment left there. The first few episodes made direct references to Five-O, suggesting that it takes place in the same fictional universe as the earlier show.

Criticism of the show pointed out that the vast majority of characters were Caucasian, while only 40% of the population of the state identify themselves as non-Hispanic Caucasian. However, many local people were cast in the show. The show was racially and ethnically diverse by the standards of the late 1960s, but the show did not have a comparable gender diversity. The first run and syndication were seen by an estimated 400,000,000 people around the world.

A measure of the show's continued high popularity is that it was lampooned in Mad Magazine, in a typical not-very-subtle satire called "How-Are-Ya Five-O", which appeared in 1971. The characters were renamed Steve "McGarrish" and "Dummy" Williams.

The closing-credits image of the police car flashing light point-of-view would be satirized years later in the opening credits of the TV series Police Squad! as well as The Naked Gun film series. Coincidentally, those shows starred Leslie Nielsen, who was in the guest cast of the Hawaii Five-O pilot.

A one-hour pilot for a new series was made in 1996 but never aired. Produced and written by Stephen J. Cannell, it starred Gary Busey and Russell Wong as the new Five-O team. James MacArthur briefly returned as Dan Williams, now governor of Hawaii. Several cameos were made by other Five-O regulars

On October 6, 2009 confirmed that CBS Television was keen on trying once again to revamp the series with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Fringe) to develop the series along with Peter M. Lenkov (CSI:NY).

Theme song

Another legacy of the show is the popularity of the Hawaii Five-O theme song. The song was composed by Morton Stevens, who also composed numerous episode scores. The song has been covered by The Ventures, and also by Radio Birdman, a punk-era band from Sydneymarker. A short cover can be seen at the end of the Massacre Palestina´s song, "Madamme X". The song is particularly popular with college and high school marching bands, especially at the University of Hawai'i, where it has become the unofficial fight song. In 1982 Australian ska/pop band No Nonsense recorded a version for their 'Round Tuit' release.

Although the theme song is most widely known as an instrumental, it has been released with at least two different sets of lyrics. The first, by Don Ho, starts with the familiar tempo, then settles into a ballad style. The second, by Sammy Davis, Jr., titled "You Can Count on Me (Theme from Hawaii Five-O)," maintains the driving style of the original instrumental throughout. The Radio Birdman version was called 'Aloha, Steve & Danno' only the middle section of the song was the original version, the rest of the song was a tribute to the show "Steve I wanna say thank you for all you've done for me, my nights are dark and empty when you're not on t.v." Another Australian band The Porkers recorded a cover of the Radio Birdman track in 1994 with Chris Masuak from R.B. on guitar.

In the Australian movie The Dish it was requested that a teen age band should play the national anthem of the United States on the occasion of a visit of the U.S. ambassador to a small Australian town. They played the Hawaii Five-O theme song instead.


See List of Hawaii Five-O episodes

Suppressed episode

The second season episode "Bored She Hung Herself" has not been broadcast since its original airing in 1970 and is not included in the second season DVD box set, released on July 31, 2007. According to Mrs. Leonard Freeman (wife of the late creator of the show), speaking to some fans at the 1996 Five-O convention, someone tried the hanging technique depicted in the show (supposedly yoga-related, but more like autoerotic asphyxiation) and killed themselves. As a result, the show was not rebroadcast and never included in any syndication packages.


On August 12, 2008, CBS announced that it was to bring Hawaii Five-O back to the network schedule, targeted for the 2009-2010 television season. The new version was to be an updated present-day reimaging of the original, this time centering around McGarrett's son Chris, who succeeded his late father as the head of the unit. Ed Bernero, executive producer and showrunner of Criminal Minds, was to helm the new take, which he described as "Hawaii Five-O, version 2.0". It was also to incorporate most of the iconic elements from the original, including the "Book 'em Danno" catchphrase, into the remake. Bernero, who was a fan of the original and had a ring tone of the series' theme song on his cellphone, had always wanted to bring the series back to TV. In October 2009, it was revealed that Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci had signed on to script a pilot episode, and Peter Lenkov will serve as the series showrunnner should it be picked up as a series.


Recurring characters

Streaming media

CBS Interactive had presented the entire first season of the show online via Adobe Flash streaming media.As of September 2009, selected episodes are available at are full-length episodes available free of charge, but with ads embedded into the stream of each episode.

DVD releases

CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount) has released the first seven seasons of Hawaii Five-O on DVD in Region 1. Seasons 2-7 on DVDcontain episode promos by Jack Lord. The Seventh Season was released on October 20, 2009; bonus features are unknown.[6644]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
The First Season 24 March 6, 2007
  • Original pilot
  • Retrospective
The Second Season 24 July 31, 2007
  • Episode entitled "Bored She Hung Herself" not included in set
The Third Season 24 January 22, 2008
  • Episode Promos
The Fourth Season 24 June 10, 2008
  • Episode Promos
The Fifth Season 24 November 18, 2008
The Sixth Season 24 April 21, 2009
  • Episode Promos
The Seventh Season 24 October 20, 2009

Other media

A soundtrack album featuring Morton Stevens' theme and incidental music was issued by Capitol Recordsmarker in 1970. One of the instrumental pieces on the album, "Call to Danger", was excerpted as background music accompanying a "Special Presentation" logo that CBS used to introduce its prime time television specials throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Hawaii Five-O was the subject of six novelizations. Each one had a plot line written for the book and was not based on a television episode. The first two books were published by Signet Paperbacks in 1968 and 1969. After that were two juvenile hard covers published by Whitman publishing in 1969 and 1971 and finally two more books were published in England.


  1. Quigley, Mike and Rhodes, Karen. "The Hawaii Five-O FAQ", The Hawaii Five-O Home Page.
  2. Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials, page 187 (Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG 1986).
  3. Newcomb, Horace. Encyclopedia of Television, page 1068 (CRC Press 2004).
  4. U.S. Navy. “Nurse Corps Miscellany, 1910-2008,” page 20.
  5. Harada, Wayne. “The Continuing Legacy of ‘Hawaii Five-O’”, Honolulu Advertiser (1998-01-26).
  6. “Richard Boone: U.S. Actor", The Museum of Broadcast Communications.
  7. Raddatz, Leslie. “How An Ex-Rodeo Rider Went West To Enjoy The Good Life As a A Hawaiian Cop”, TV Guide (1969-01-04).
  8. Quigley, Mike. "My Report on the 1996 Five-O Conventions", The Hawaii Five-O Home Page.
  9. Gomes, Andrew. “Now that Ilikai deal is done, is Hard Rock in its future? ”, Honolulu Advertiser (2006-07-13). Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  10. Davidson, Bill. “Hawaii’s Happy Almond: Giving up the spotlight to a glowering coconut doesn't faze James MacArthur,” TV Guide (1973-09-22).
  11. Mifflin, Lawrie. “Jack Lord, 77, Helped Direct And Starred In 'Hawaii Five-O'”, The New York Times (1998-01-23).
  13. Snauffer, Douglas. Crime Television, page 59 (Greenwood Publishing 2006).
  15. Hawaii Five-O theme song
  16. Don Ho version of theme song
  17. Sammy Davis Jr. version of theme song
  18. Chun, Gary. “Episode cut from ‘Five-0’ second-season set”, Honolulu Star-Bulletin (2007-08-03).
  19. Andreeva, Nellie. “’Hawaii Five-O’ 2.0 set up at CBS,” Reuters (2008-08-12).
  21. Rhodes, Karen. “An Analysis of the Hawaii Five-O Paperback Novels, American and British, and the American Whitman Five-O Stories for Youngsters,” Karen Rhodes Home Page.

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