1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: James MacArthur
Reed Saxon  /  AP file
Actor James MacArthur holds a photo from the late 1940s of himself as a child with his mother, actress Helen Hayes and Bob Hope on Aug. 23, 2003.
updated 10/28/2010 1:34:02 PM ET 2010-10-28T17:34:02

Stage and screen actor James MacArthur, who played "Danno" in the original version of television's "Hawaii Five-O," died Thursday at age 72.

MacArthur's agent, Richard Lewis, said the actor died in Florida of "natural causes," but no direct cause was specified.

In a career that spanned more than four decades, MacArthur was most recognized for his role as detective Danny "Danno" Williams on "Hawaii Five-O," which aired from 1968 to 1980. Episodes often ended with detective Steve McGarrett, the lead character, uttering what became a pop culture catch phrase: "Book 'em, Danno."

Jack Lord, who starred as McGarrett, died in 1998.

MacArthur quit the role of McGarrett's sidekick a year before the program's final season.

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

"Quite frankly, I grew bored," he explained on his website. "The stories became more bland and predictable and presented less and less challenge to me as an actor."

"Hawaii Five-O," one of the longest running crime shows in TV history with 278 episodes, was shot on location in the Hawaiian islands. It was the first Hawaii-based national TV series.

Glenn Cannon, a University of Hawaii theater professor who had a recurring role as the district attorney in the original series, said Lord and MacArthur were "a great part" of the team that produced the series and kept it "strong and positive."

The use of many local actors, scenery and flavor of the islands led Hawaii residents "to feel very positively about the series," added Cannon, who still acts, directs and leads the local branch of the Screen Actors Guild. "People in Hawaii felt they had an ownership of the series."

The drama has been remade by CBS with a new cast this season.

MacArthur, born Dec. 8, 1937, seemed destined to become an actor. He was the adopted son of playwright Charles MacArthur and Helen Hayes, an award-winning actress often referred to as "First Lady of the American Theater." Silent film star Lillian Gish was his godmother.

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

"They did teach me a lot about the theatre just through my life with them," he said of his parents in a 1957 interview in Teen Life magazine. "They never pushed me in any direction. Any major decision has always been my own to make."

James MacArthur made his stage debut at age 8 in a summer stock production of "The Corn is Green."

His breakout role was in the 1957 "Climax!" television series production of "The Young Stranger," in which he starred as the 17-year-old son of a movie executive who has a run-in with the law.

He entered Harvard that same year, but dropped out in his sophomore year to pursue an acting career.

  1. Most popular

As a young actor, James MacArthur appeared in the Walt Disney movies "Kidnapped," "Third Man on the Mountain," "Swiss Family Robinson" and "The Light in the Forest."

He also had roles in "The Interns, "Spencer's Mountain," "Battle of the Bulge" and "Hang 'Em High," as well as many guest roles on TV series such as "Gunsmoke."

He performed in many stage plays, including the lead role of Hildy Johnson in a 1981 production of "The Front Page," which was co-written by his father in the late 1920s, at the Stanford Community Theatre in Palo Alto, Calif.

His live acting career won him the 1961 Theatre World Award for best new actor for his performance in "Invitation to a March."

James MacArthur said that one of his favorite "Hawaii Five-O" episodes was a 1975 segment called "Retire in Sunny Hawaii Forever" because it marked one of the rare times that he worked on screen with his mother. Hayes played Danno's Aunt Clara, who visits Hawaii and helps the detectives solve a murder.

Asked by the Hawaii Star Bulletin newspaper in 2003 about his fondest memories about working on "Hawaii Five-O," he replied: "Living in Hawaii."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: 'Hawaii 5-0's' Danno dies

  1. Transcript of: 'Hawaii 5-0's' Danno dies

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Without him, we would not have one of the great phrases in the modern American lexicon.

    Unidentified Actor #1: Book him, Danno .

    Unidentified Actor #2: Book him, Danno .

    Mr. JACK LORD: Book him, Danno . Murder one .

    WILLIAMS: The man who played Danno has died. James MacArthur was cast to play opposite Jack Lord in " Hawaii_Five -O." Some said he was destined for the performing arts. He was the adopted son of Helen Hayes , godson to Lillian Gish . He was a Harvard dropout and a stage veteran. " Hawaii_Five -0" ran so long, for so many years, MacArthur got bored and quit before the last season. He died today in Florida . He was 72

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

Exclusive
  1. TODAY

    Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly talks near-death ordeal, recovery

    9/3/2014 2:31:06 AM +00:00 2014-09-03T02:31:06
  1. Kelly Gunderson via YouTube

    'I'm lovin' you': Woman with Alzheimer's connects with daughter in viral video

    9/2/2014 11:38:34 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T23:38:34
  1. Kirsty Grant / Kirsty Grant

    See why this baby is smiling... and why his dad is cringing

    9/2/2014 5:26:01 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:26:01
  1. Dan Hallman / Dan Hallman/Invision/AP

    Joan Rivers remains on life support, her daughter Melissa Rivers says

    9/2/2014 5:59:58 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:59:58
  1. Report: ISIS kills second American journalist

    SITE Intel Group, a jihadist monitoring organization, announced on Tuesday that the Islamic militant group ISIS has killed American journalist Steven Joel Sotloff.

    9/2/2014 5:34:24 PM +00:00 2014-09-02T17:34:24