Michael Anderson Jr. starred in four Five-O episodes: To Killed or Be Killed (#65), The Sunday Torch (#125), How to Steal a Masterpiece (#153) and Nine Dragons (#192). This interview was conducted January 29, 1998, shortly after Jack Lord's death, for an article on Stoney Burke for TV Collector magazine, but the discussion quickly turned to Hawaii Five-O. ©1998 Heather Henderson, used by permission.
M: Okay, let’s start at the beginning, when I first met Jack. Let’s see. He was doing a show -- I was set to do “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, but that movie was huge -- took forever -- and during the course of pre-production I was originally on expenses, so my agent said he would try to get me a job while I was waiting for the production to start, and came up with -- he called me one day and he said, “I got you six days” -- or five days, I think it was -- on “Stoney Burke”. [Episode is “Gold-Plated Maverick”] Well, I’d never heard of “Stoney Burke” and nobody else had, because it hadn’t been shown yet. So I go out -- never heard of Jack Lord, never heard of any of ‘em -- went out and met everyone --an amazing cast, Bruce Dern and Warren Oates and Jack. And Jack came up to me and greeted me warmly, said he knew my brother. Apparently my brother, who is a production manager and assistant director, had worked with him on some Bond film or something. I said, Oh, that’s nice. They were worried because I was English. They were worried about whether I could do the American accent. And I was too.
H: Was that the first time you had done an American accent?
M: No... in fact, the first time I’d done an American accent was... well, you know what, it probably was! Come to think of it, it probably was.
H: You do a great job.
M: Well, thanks. But yeah, that was the first time. I had been working with a dialogue coach -- and also, I had long hair, because I had been growing it for “Greatest Story Ever Told”, and they wanted to put a line in there about “Yeah, if he’d only get a haircut!”
H: That’s in there.
M: Yeah! Well, that was because I couldn’t get a haircut. So now I meet Jack, and he was very cool, very reserved -- but he was very friendly to me, and everybody had said to me, “Oh Jack can be difficult” -- “Have you met Jack yet?” -- you know -- and they all, in other words, I think this was episode 13 or something like that, and the crew had already sort of come to the conclusion that Jack -- I got the impression, anyway, that Jack could be -- let’s see -- not “difficult”, because I don’t think Jack WAS difficult -- but he could be “particular”. Which is a very good word for Jack, actually. All morning I’ve been thinking -- what one word can I use to describe Jack? He WAS particular. And by the way, I’m gonna miss Jack terribly because I had enormous affection for him. I really do, and my heart goes out to Marie. But let’s see... So I became VERY friendly with Warren Oates -- I ended up doing four films with Warren, and being very close to him. I liked Warren enormously.
H: He seems like a fascinating guy.
M: He WAS a fascinating guy. In England, when an actor admires and respects somebody, it’s not uncommon to go out and do what I did, which was, I actually went out and bought a script book and put Warren Oates’ name on it and tracked him down and gave it to him about two weeks after we’d finished shooting. I liked him that much. And he looked at me -- when I gave it to him, he looked at me like I was some FAGGOT. He wasn’t sure about me at all! And I said, “NO no no. It’s okay, it’s an English thing, we do that!” As it turned out, later we worked many times together.
H: You must have thrown him for a loop there!
M: [laughs] Oh, I have some FUNNY stories about Warren, but we won’t go into that! [laughs] Anyway, so Jack. So now I’m working with Jack. He did want to coach every scene. In other words, if I had a scene coming up, he’d want me in his trailer to go over it and over it. And I felt that it was because he was particular. He wanted to get it right. He wanted to make sure that the other actor in the scene was... Well, that was fine for me. But I think a lot of other actors probably didn’t appreciate that. I don’t know. I can only speak for myself. It didn’t bother me. But I remember -- where I won Jack’s loyalty -- because I think the one thing you CAN say about Jack is that if he liked you, he was EXTREMELY loyal -- was, I think it was the last day of production, they had to do a closeup on him, and it was where he sees something that makes him laugh. Now this -- Jack was somewhat self-conscious -- and for him, laughing on camera didn’t come naturally. So all I know is, I was, I think, in my trailer or something, and an assistant director came running up saying “Mike, Mike, Mike, ya gotta get on the set, ya gotta get on the set!” And I said, “Well, why? Why?” And he said, “Jack’s doing a closeup and he wants YOU to do something funny to make him laugh!” Well, that’s an AWFUL situation to be in. I mean, what the hell do you do? And what if it’s not funny? Then you’re an idiot for the rest of your life. Well, I didn’t know what to do. So the whole crew is there, and Jack is in front of the camera and everything, and they’re rolling the cameras and Jack says, “Okay, Mike, DO SOMETHING FUNNY!” Well, I didn’t know what to do, so I dropped my pants. [laughter] Which is the only thing I could think of to do. Well, he just laughed and chuckled and everything. But I think he appreciated the gesture! So to speak! [more laughter] It’s absolutely true. So that’s how I met Jack. And then years and years went by. I got busy doing stuff and doing my own thing, and then I got a call from my agent saying, did I want to go to Hawaii? I said wow, sure, why not? And it turned out Jack Lord had asked for me to do Hawaii Five-O. This was, I think, the first year. So I went there. You know, they weren’t paying very much, and he was very glad for me to be there. It was a GREAT story. And they felt they were doing something different and on the edge -- you have to remember that in the early years of Five-O, the Vietnam War was on, and all that stuff -- and I think I played a draft dodger --
H: Yes, and your brother has just come back from Vietnam --
M: And the military’s investigating him. Well, you know, that never aired when it was supposed to. And Jack told me later that the network had decided it was -- I don’t know, I was never given the whole, exact story -- but it was very sensitive. The military didn’t like the idea that we would do a movie on draft dodging in the first place. Or that -- I think somebody felt it was sensitive. I think somebody leaned on somebody at CBS. I don’t know, but that’s what I think.
H: There’s a scene where your brother talks about these atrocities --
M: My Lai -- what was supposed to be My Lai -- and it’s all being recorded by Army intelligence. So I think (laughs) that somebody felt they had gone too far. I know that first episode never aired until later. Many years later, in fact. The reason I know this is that I never got a residual for it! (laughs) That’s the way we track these things... Anyway.
H: The episode was “To Kill or Be Killed”.
M: That’s right, with John Anderson.
H: It was supposed to have aired in ‘71, but maybe it was actually filmed earlier, as you say -- you said it was the first season?
M: Well, it might not have been their first season. It may have been on for a year. What was their first year?
M: Yeah, it was ‘69 I did it... I think Jack liked the idea that they were doing something cutting-edge, taking on difficult issues, and stuff. But he was just charming to work with, and always cautioned actors to stay out of the sun and not get burned... So long as you were professional with Jack, he treated you ABSOLUTELY right. I don’t think he had any time -- I’m sure you’ve heard this from Kam Fong, and many other people -- he did NOT have time for anybody who was goofin’ around -- not that you couldn’t have a good time, but -- I think Jack was a very sensitive man.
H: It seems so, from what I’ve heard.
M: Yes. And -- I’ll tell you a WONDERFUL story about Jack. Okay. Now he and Marie told me this. I went to lunch with them once, on “Nine Dragons” -- or maybe it was the one before that, anyway, it was in Hawaii -- I don’t know, I’ve done so many of them that time blurs. But they took me to lunch one Sunday and -- oh no, it was about stolen paintings.
H: “How to Steal a Masterpiece”.
M: Yeah, right, right.
H: In fact, he directed that one.
M: Yeah, I believe he did. Right.
H: Anything you can remember about how he was as a director would be great too. But go ahead --
M: As a director, he was exactly the same. He would take the time to run a scene, he would take the time to work with the actors, and try to get -- it was a difficult piece, because as I recall it wasn’t terribly well-written -- and there were some problems in the long last scene that took a while to work out. But he took the time and worked it out. And I think he did a very good job.
H: When you say problems, you mean the lines didn’t flow right and they had to be redone?
M: Some of it didn’t make sense, when you broke it down. You know -- people said things that didn’t accurately reflect actions they’d taken earlier. And stuff like that.
H: So did you point that out, or did one of the other actors point that out --
M: Well, what happens is, you sit down and run a scene, and one of the actors says “You know, this really doesn’t make any sense --because was it, in fact, the Matisse that was taken?” Or, you know... then you have to sit down and start -- and I remember we all sat there and said, “Oh Jesus, don’t start pulling threads out”, because once you start to do that, you know... the whole thing unravels. But Jack was able to ride herd on everybody and get the job done.
H: And I think he did a very good job of directing himself, which is kind of odd, because you hear so many people talking about what an egomaniac he was, but that’s not evident in his playing when he’s directing himself.
M: I think Jack liked control. And he was in control.
H: And he relaxed.
M: Yes. There was no resistance. Nobody to please but himself. So the other story -- you know, he had this LONG marriage to Marie. They were telling me about the early days of their relationship -- and Jack’s eyes just SPARKLED when he told this story -- that he -- I don’t think he had married Marie yet, they were dating. And they were in a taxi. Or no, HE was in a taxi. No, THEY were in a taxi. I think it goes this way... They were in a taxi, in New York, and there was a small accident, and Jack -- the taxi driver got out and screamed at Jack, and Jack, I think, got upset with him and pushed the guy, and of course, he wasn’t going to be treated badly, and what have you. So lo and behold, he says, a week later he’s summoned to court for assault. This guy has produced photographs of himself with a bloody nose, and broken eyes, and doctor’s reports and the whole thing. And Jack said, the whole thing was just maddening because he hadn’t DONE THAT. You know. And the judge -- he says, when he got to court, the judge asked his side of the story, asked the taxi driver’s side of the story, and admired Marie, who must have been STUNNINGLY beautiful in those days. And he said, “So, you did in fact push him.” And Jack said, “Yes, I did, your honor, but I didn’t do the damage that this man is claiming.” And the judge said, “Okay, I’m going to dismiss this case -- but you DO have a temper.” And Jack said, “Well, I don’t have a TEMPER, but I suppose you could say that maybe I did get carried away.” So the judge smiled -- and Marie told me this story -- she said, “I’ll never forget his words: he said ‘I am releasing Thor into the arms of Aphrodite!’” [laughter]
M: And you know, they were like children. It was like this was yesterday, when they told this story. It was very sweet. And you know, that could, in embryo, be the story of their relationship. The story of their love. I mean, “I am releasing Thor into the arms of Aphrodite!” He obviously thought that she was beautiful, and that Jack was a hothead!
M: He was a Capricorn, you know.
H: That’s what I heard.
M: Now I don’t know what Marie is.
H: I don’t know either. I’ll have to ask one of my horoscope-oriented friends.
M: Yes. Because those things are fascinating to people, you know.
H: Yeah, and I remember reading in one of the interviews -- it seems that Jack believed in that but never really -- he claimed he didn’t, you know. And he said something like “We’re really not supposed to be together, because she’s the opposite”, you know --
M: Oh ho, okay. “Against all odds.” [laughs]
H: He does make a point in a lot of these interviews that he was kind of a wild man before she took him over.
M: Oh good, so I wasn’t telling stories out of...
H: Oh no, no. There are a couple of stories -- but you never know what to believe in these fan magazines -- and he was a little bit of a yarnspinner, you know, he would ...
M: Tell stories.
H: Yes, he would tell stories that sort of built up his myth, you know, his legend...
M: Yeah! [laughs]
H: Like the story about an English guy, some duke -- when he was in New York in the ‘50s selling Cadillacs, there was a story about an Englishman who came in with a cane, and was some sort of duke, or whatever, and walked around and wanted to see the cars, and started to get obnoxious to Jack, and then he asked Jack to hold his cane for him, and Jack said, “No, you hold it, I’m not a cane-holder,” and the duke got more obnoxious and Jack threw him out!
M: Well, you know, I can completely believe that. [laughter]
M: Oh, totally.
H: Have you seen anything like that happen?
M: No, I haven’t SEEN anything like that happen, but I’ve heard... No, Jack was always very well-behaved when I was on the set. Always. I never saw him -- I heard STORIES about Jack -- not particular stories. But actors would say, “Oh, I’m not doing any more Hawaii Five-Os.” You could get on Jack’s shit list very easily, I think. I just never got on it! [laughter]
H: I’ve heard some stories from people I’ve talked to, Marj Dusay, others who did guest spots, and they said that he was fine, but a lot of actors apparently would go down to Hawaii thinking it was a vacation, go out and get drunk and come in hung over the next day, and he would go through the roof.
M: Well, I never drank, so I think he liked that. I don’t know. It never came up. But yes, Jack would not like that. Professionalism. Jack was a consummate professional, in that respect. And if you treated him and your work with respect, you would get nothing but respect back. He wasn’t a schmoozer -- he wouldn’t sit and gab and laugh and talk and stuff -- but he was warm. If Jack knew you, and liked you, you could always knock on his trailer door and go in and he would be more than willing to spend time with you, and enjoy stories and stuff. Oh, the Elvis story. I have to tell you the Elvis story.
M: I was in his apartment at the Kahala one time, and he showed me a belt that was hanging on the bathroom wall. It was a show belt, and he said Elvis had given it to him. He had gone to -- it may have been the first night, that Elvis had performed in Hawaii. That was a big concert for him -- it was live, as I recall, it was the first beamed-live satellite thing that Elvis had done. Elvis also was a Capricorn.
H: I didn’t know that.
M: Yes. None of that came up at the time, I just put it all together later. Anyway, he showed me this belt that Elvis had given to him. He had gone to the concert, and Elvis had heard that he was there, or seen that he was there, and introduced him from the audience. And Jack was very, very touched by that, thought that it was very nice of Elvis to do. And later, somebody came up to him and said, would you like to go backstage? And he said sure, and he went backstage and met Elvis. And then one of the bodyguards said, “Listen, we have a problem, can Elvis stay with you for a couple of days?” And you know, this was, like, really HARD for Jack, because I DON’T think Jack liked people just moving in on him! But what do you say to The King? I mean, how does a Lord treat a King? [laughter] So he said, “Well, come on over.” But he said to me -- he was very funny -- he said “It went on for four or five DAYS! These guys --” he said -- “they eat thirty pizzas a day -- you know, all they do is drink beer and send out for more!” [laughter] He said it was really an imposition. But at the end of it, Elvis gave Jack a gun. Now he showed me this gun. It was one of his own private guns -- it was gold, with a filigreed handle -- that’s all I remember about it. It looked like a .44, I think. It was just beautiful. And that was one of Jack’s all-time favorite possessions. Absolutely. He LOVED it. I think Elvis had another one just like it.
H: It’s just kind of unbelievable to imagine those two in the same room.
M: Yeah! But they got along very well. And of course, people were dying -- Hendrix was dying, and stuff like that - - I think what I’m saying is that Five-O was made during turbulent times, they SEEMED turbulent at the time, but they WERE turbulent times. The war was going on, and the hippie movement, and all the -- that’s what I played for Jack, was hippies, I guess, a lot. [laughs]
H: Well, young guys.
M: Yes, young guys. Right. Oh, I remember one time -- I was in London, England and the phone rang. And it was Pam Dixon, who was casting then for CBS, and she said to me, “Can you get to Hawaii in 18 hours?” I said “Yeah, send me a ticket.” She said, “No problem -- and I’ll send you a script.” Well, of course I didn’t get the script until I got to the SET! Now, I went straight through L.A., on to Hawaii, by the time I got there I looked like, you know, the Wreck of the Hesperus. [laughter] So I arrive, I go from the airport straight to the set -- I had this little speech, it was hard for me to learn -- so I said hello to the crew, I KNEW all the crew, half of them had done “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, and other movies and stuff -- so as I was about to start, Jack came up to me and put this BEADED NECKLACE around my neck, and he said, “These are puka shells.” And I said “WHAT??” And he said, “Trust me. You’re gonna look fine. Everybody’s wearing them.” So he had a very strong eye for fashion. And Jack was -- I mean, ME wearing a necklace seemed strange, but Jack was a guy who, if he said “Trust me,” you trusted him.
H: Wow, a fashion consultant.
M: Yes, exactly. Well, his wife, you know, I’m sure he got a lot of that from her. But he was great fun. Jack was FUN. When you knew him. I’m sure a lot of actors who read that, if it’s ever printed, will say, “Jack LORD?? FUN??” But believe me, he was a lot of fun. We howled and giggled and laughed. If you could get past the guard and win his trust, Jack was a very warm, compassionate, kind person. I liked Jack very, very much.
H: Well, that’s what I was wondering about him. There are a lot of mysteries surrounding him, and one of them is, did he ever have a sense of humor. Because it’s so hard to tell --
M: Oh, very much so! Very much so. Oh, I’ve made Jack laugh so hard that he almost had to be carried out of Michael’s -- or Michelle’s -- no, Michael’s, I think the restaurant is called, in Hawaii. We just -- we got to giggling one day, and the whole place was packed, and I’m sure that everyone was looking and saying “Jack Lord, LAUGHING?? What’s going on?” But we were just -- it just got FUNNY!
H: It sounds like you’re the kind of person that he would gravitate to. It sounds like you didn’t have any fear of him to start with, which I think would probably put him on edge, and I think most people dealing with him for the first time would be terrified --
M: Yes. I was young, too, and I think he -- he -- you know -- he felt paternal. I guess. And after “Stoney Burke”, I mean, the first “Hawaii Five-O”, which was in ‘69 -- “Stoney Burke” was in ‘62 -- so that was seven years later that I worked with him.
H: But he asked for you specifically for that --
H: So he must have had some good memories of you from “Stoney”.
H: But did he ever initiate anything that was humorous, or was he mainly a good audience?
M: Oh no, he was a funny storyteller! Oh YEAH! I mean he told me that story about Thor! [laughter] I mean, Jack was dry, and I could see where a lot of people would -- but if you got to him, he could be very silly. He LIKED to be silly. But Capricorns have a natural reserve. Jack had a natural reserve. And I think once you broke through that [laughter] you know, you realized what a silly goose he was! [laughter]
H: I CAN’T imagine!
M: I know! But you see, that’s what’s strange about Jack, is that everybody knows a different Jack Lord. I was talking to one actor, who’s a star, recently, someone I was working with, and I said “So, did you ever do a Hawaii Five-O,” and he said “Oh God, not THAT show. Not that -- I couldn’t work with Jack!” [laughter] I said “Oh, okay.” He had done one, but he didn’t get along with Jack at all.
H: Who is this person?
M: I CAN’T tell you! [laughter]
H: Okay. But I had to ask! [laughter]
M: But he is a star. But he was just a young man then, and lookin’ for work. And he just didn’t get along well with Jack. And I said -- he’s a Capricorn too -- and I said, “Well, two Capricorns!” [laughter] Funnily enough, this guy reminds me of Jack. But there ya go!
H: Have you ever heard anything about what happened in his later years --
M: No, because I know that Jack absolutely wanted his privacy. I had his phone number for years and years and years, but I never felt -- I think there’s an understanding among actors who have done a series -- I did a series once -- and I mean, you can’t find three minutes to make a phone call. And if the phone rings, you’re never available. The privacy is respected and you only use a phone call like that -- but his wife did call me once. I was having a party and she called, and I go, “Oh my God, it’s Marie Lord!” She wanted to ask me something about a friend of mine. They would call once in a blue moon and say hello. Which is amazing because you wouldn’t think that -- Jack was not a guy who would call you every five minutes and schmooze. That was NOT Jack. But once in a great while. And he was very generous. He wanted me to have some extra cash when I went to Hawaii -- I think he gave me an extra $500 in cash. Which was really a nice gesture. I just remember Jack very, very, very fondly.
H: Do you remember anything about working with the other folks, like James MacArthur?
M: Oh sure. Jimmy and I have Hayley Mills in common. I had done Hayley’s first movie -- which was called “Tiger Bay” -- and then I did “In Search of the Castaways”, which was for Disney. And I was supposed to have given her her first on- screen kiss. And so we would talk about -- and I mean, Hayley was big, a big star in her day -- and he had done, I forget what it was, with her -- and we would talk about her. I got along very, very well with him. He was funny. [laughter] He was a funny guy. He was a counterpoint to Jack.
H: That was one of the funny things about the show, I think, is trying to figure out how the two of them could survive for eleven years and not just -- they must have made space for each other somehow.
M: Well, I think it was just a very professional -- I mean, Jimmy’s very professional, Jack was very professional, they ran the set that way. You didn’t argue with Jack -- he wanted things done his way. And Jimmy was smart enough not to get into a battle of egos with him.
H: I got the impression that he wasn’t interested in the star thing, so he didn’t feel the need to assert himself. He just let Jack run everything.
H: He seemed to think, well, I’m in the second banana role, but that’s okay, it’s a good job for me --
M: Take the money and run. [laughter] I think he was good with investments, and money, and that sort of thing, so I think he had other interests. This wasn’t his main focus. Also, with those shows, you never know when you’re going to be cancelled. So you always think that this year is going to be your last year.
H: In the early show that you did, did you sense anything with Jack where he was unusually edgy or the atmosphere on the set was harsh --
H: I had heard some stories about how the first few seasons they didn’t know that it was going to be a hit.
M: Well, that IS true. But if anything, Jack was very apologetic about the shoestring aspect. Because Jack was a classy guy, you know. He liked to go first class. He was also very concerned -- I remember one day he was watching the bad guys drive up in a Ford. And he said “What’s that? A Ford? Don’t they sponsor us? Why are the bad guys driving Fords?” [laughter] So he was concerned about every aspect of the show -- from the sponsor’s point of view, from the network’s point of view. The first couple of years, yes, I remember he was concerned about the budget, fighting to make the show better. He LOVED Hawaii.
H: Yes. That’s what I understand. And it’s kind of sad because in Hawaii they didn’t say much about him after he passed away. They kind of blew him off. And to do that to someone who has brought uncounted millions, maybe billions into the state...
M: I know. But I can see how -- I mean, a lot of the people I talk to feel that way about Jack Lord. They didn’t know the Jack Lord I knew. And I think when you’re “simpatico” with people, you see through those silly things, those ego things. Listen, I worked with John Wayne, and Bob Mitchum, and Glenn Ford, and loved those big guys! And some of the great directors, and great actors. And I think that I took myself seriously as an actor. I’ve stopped doing that now. [laughter] But at the time --
H: Well, you have to do that, don’t you? I mean, you have to take yourself seriously. The work is too hard, and you’re putting yourself on the line constantly --
M: Absolutely. But you know, what you learn as you get older is that your own ego is really just something you need to get you through. My grandmother had a great line -- at the age of 86 or something, she was looking through her trunk of [English accent] “her memorabilia” -- and she had been fairly successful in her life, and they had written articles and stuff about her, and she just smiled wistfully and she said, “You know, it all seemed so important at the time.” And that put things in another perspective.
H: That’s a great line.
H: It sounds like Jack took a lot of little details too seriously -- you can never tell what’s the media blowing something out of proportion, but there’s a story about how a reporter made the mistake of calling James MacArthur a “co- star”, and Jack went ballistic, announcing that he was the only star, and everyone else was merely a “supporting player”.
M: [laughs] Well, that would be -- I can understand, I can hear Jack saying something like that. Jack was older, and so I think his idea of the movie business was the “star system”. And the star was important. And everybody else wasn’t. If you weren’t THE STAR, you were lucky to be working. [laughs]
H: That’s an interesting point, because he was from that era.
M: Yes. And it was a different mentality. And it was HIS SHOW. Five-O was his show. And he felt that his contribution to the show was -- oh yeah, Jack took himself VERY seriously. There’s no doubt about it. But, you know, I knew Jack well enough to “nudge” him, and almost to tickle him, you know. Which would be unthinkable. Unimaginable! [laughter]
H: I know! My mind is boggling.
M: After all the people you’ve probably spoken to, to hear someone say “Oh, Jack was a pussycat” must be odd.
H: It is quite odd.
M: But that’s the Jack I knew. He had that other side. I knew him better than that-- that’s what I’m trying to say.
H: Did you talk to him at all about his artwork? because I know he was very serious about that, and he was actually a good painter, I think.
M: Yes, he was. And I think, in fact, he actually used a lot of his paintings on “How to Steal a Masterpiece”. I couldn’t begin to tell you which ones. As I told him, “I don’t know nothin’ about art.” [laughter] Because I didn’t want to get into a discussion of his art. [laughter]
H: Oh really?
M: You know. Because what if you say something unintentional, like “It’s very -- it’s very LOUD!” Or whatever. I don’t know. And upset him. You have to treat Jack with respect. But I could also say to him, “Who cares about your art? I got my own problems!” And he would laugh! [laughter] He would respect that.
H: You must have had some very interesting conversations with Jack.
M: Oh, I did. See, I thought he was CRUELLY funny. I mean, I could tell you some funny stories, but they’re silly.
H: Oh yeah, I want to hear that.
M: Oh no no no no. [laughter]
H: Aw come on.
M: Oh no.... [laughter] I think there was also a bawdy side to Jack. I’m sure you probably heard that.
H: No, not really. I suspected --
M: Oh! Well then, you didn’t hear it here!
H: Come on! [laughter]
M: Well, he LOVED stories. I -- you know, when I was a young man, I spent time with -- I made a film with Dennis Hopper down in Mexico. And John Wayne, and those people. It was called “The Sons of Katie Elder”. And Jack loved my stories about what we would do visiting the whorehouses on the weekends. I mean, he just thought those stories were absolutely great. That’s what got him goin’. And Marie was bawdy too! She would laugh too. They just really loved those stories. You wouldn’t think that you would tell Jack and Marie Lord stories like that. But we just got giggling one day, and that was the end of it...[laughter] It all came out!
H: My guess, just from his persona and the way he seemed to behave, is that if he got into any humorous stuff, it wouldn’t be the witty intellectual kind, it would be kidlike -- I don’t want to say immature, but earthy.
M: Bawdy. Yes, exactly.
H: He seems so serious on the outside.
M: Oh, I’ve heard everything about Jack. I mean, “he’s a stiff”, you know -- and I’d go “Oh no,” because I knew him better. But I could see where, if you didn’t know him better, and if you bought all the press, that you’d say, [intimidated voice] “Hello,” and just stand there, and be overwhelmed by this image. But if you knew him, as I did, from years before, he was charming. And somewhat insecure as an actor, I felt, early on.
H: I think he was an underrated actor. I read a couple of obits where they said he was wooden and stonefaced -- one person even compared him to Jack Webb, if you can believe it. But if anything, he was over the top, not the other end of the spectrum, the Joe Friday robot...
M: It always was sort of larger-than-life, Hawaii Five-O. I mean, there is no such THING as a “Hawaii Five-O” unit. The whole thing was just --
H: Yes, it’s like a comic-book, superhero thing. Which is great, but it’s not your typical cop show.
M: It’s funny to see it all come back. And the kids today really like it. I remember my son, who is now 21, he was 16 when they brought it back, and he calls me and he goes [goofy teenage voice] “Hey Pops! Saw ya on Five-O!” And I go, “Oh yeah?” And he says, “Those were the days, huh? Mr. Hippie!” And I go, “Oh yeah, okay.” “Long hair! Dad, you’re The Man!” [laughter] You know, it’s really funny, twenty years later, to see this stuff come flyin’ back atcha. You don’t know, when you do a Hawaii Five-O in the first year, that it’s going to be a classic. You don’t know. And you don’t care, because you can’t pick and sort. It’s just a job... I miss those days. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. I miss those days.
H: Did you notice any change in his behavior in his attitude between Stoney and when you saw him again in Five-O six years later?
M: No. Just that he was more confident. And more able to have people listen to his authority. He had more control. But Jack’s nature has never changed. His character has never changed. At least, I’ve never known it to change... Jack wasn’t an easy man to get to know. But once you did... I think the public’s perception of Jack would be very different from my perception of Jack. I think if you knew him... there was a sweet, soft side of Jack that was very different from his public persona. I don’t think you’d hear that from a lot of people, because they just didn’t get past it. They didn’t make the effort, or didn’t bother, or didn’t have the chemistry, or whatever.
H: I haven’t heard that from anybody. MacArthur may say something like that, just because he’s known him for so long...
M: Well, I think Jimmy’ll tell you the good and the bad. Listen, Jack would NOT have replaced Jimmy. I think he felt loyalty was important. And I don’t think Jimmy ever gave him cause to. But you’ll have to find out from Jimmy all about that stuff. [wicked laugh]
H: I think they must have had some sort of tangle at some point --
M: Oh, I think they did. Yeah.
H: They seem to be such different types.
M: They came to terms with each other. I think that’s the way to put that. They definitely came to terms with each other.
H: To tell the truth, I think the show needed MacArthur. I think he balanced Jack -- Jack was edgy, almost neurotic, and Jimmy “earthed” him in some way. The pilot movie doesn’t have him in it and it shows the lack of his presence. Everybody else is fine.
M: They must have sat down and said, “We need to bring other characters in...”
H: Well, there was another guy who played the same role, and he just wasn’t -- he didn’t do it very well.
M: Do you remember who that was?
H: Tim O’Kelly.
M: Ohhhhhhhhh, yeah....
H: You know him?
H: Someone was asking me lately, “Whatever happened to him?”
M: I would imagine, uhhhh, that probably Jack didn’t, uh, get along with Tim.
H: Oh really?
M: I won’t say any more than THAT. [wicked laughter]
H: Okay! [laughter] Well, that’s provocative!
M: In fact, I think Tim O’Kelly died. I’m not sure, but I think he did, a couple of years ago.
H: What are you doing lately, are you still acting?
M: I’m writing, and acting, and bouncing around... I’m very committed to my family, so I spend a lot of time with them, traveling and stuff. But yes, I’m working.
H: And you’re based in Canada?
M: Yes, at this point in time. I spend half a year here, and half a year there, in LA. I’m all over the place.
H: Oh, another question. Since you hung around with Warren Oates, I was wondering -- he and Jack also seem like two different people. I was wondering how they got along.
M: I think that they fulfilled different functions in “Stoney Burke”, completely. Jack was the leading man, and Warren was the character. And the thing about Warren was that he really WAS the character in real life. He was crazy as a bedbug. And lovable as all getout. I had done “Major Dundee” with him, which was a Sam Peckinpah film with Charlton Heston, and we spent four months, or whatever it was, in Mexico. So I did “Stoney Burke”, I did “Major Dundee” -- he had done an episode of “The Monroes”, which was the series I did for ABC. And then we did one other thing, I guess it was “The Name of the Game” or one of those sorts of things, I can’t remember what it was. But there was a fourth one in there. So our paths kept crossing. I just had a great affection for him. A genuine affection for him. He was his own worst enemy, as anybody will tell you, because he drank, and all that stuff. He must have been MISERABLE to live with. There were all these stories about, you know, “He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun! He’s threatening to kill everyone!!” You know, that kind of thing. He was from [incredulous voice] KENTUCKY! He was a Kentucky mountain man, you know. [laughter] But very sweet, and great fun. And kind of like, CRABBY. You know... very charming, funny guy. I just really always liked him.
H: It’s funny in Stoney Burke, because while Jack is great, his part is strange. Stoney is kind of boring.
M: Oh, YEAH!
H: He’s Mr. Clean Cut, always going around trying to save people from themselves... and if Warren Oates hadn’t been in it, I think it would have been a far inferior show. He’s wonderful. He’s one of these guys -- I guess he’s just a natural actor, I don’t know that he really studied anywhere.
M: I don't think so. I think he was truly a natural actor.
H: He can just read these lines and you just believe everything he says. He could read the phone book and you’d believe him.
M: I would watch, and be amazed... he was REAL. He was completely real. And that’s something actors strive so hard to be.
H: He and Jack seemed to be polar opposites.
M: I don’t think they spent a lot of time together. I don’t think Jack spent any time with any of that lot on “Stoney Burke”. I think he was FAR above spending time with Bruce Dern, for example. Of course, Bruce is not the most sociable guy in the world.
M: [catty voice] Well, turn that tape recorder off and I’ll tell you! [laughter] You know, Bruce can be summed up in one word for me: “Surly”.
H: You know, he always struck me that way, on-screen. I never liked the guy.
M: He’s a whiner. What I remember about Bruce was, and I was just a young boy -- he was complaining about the FOOD, he was complaining about the ride to WORK, he was complaining about JACK, he was complaining about EVERYTHING, and I thought, “Jeez, you’re lucky to be WORKING!” [laughter] Bruce is a good actor, but he’s no star. He doesn’t have star quality at all. And I think Jack was no actor, but he WAS a star.
H: Well, I don’t know if you’ve seen any of his early TV stuff, but he was really pretty good. But then he got sidetracked into the Five-O tough-cop stuff.
M: Oh, but believe me, he wouldn’t have done it for twelve years if he didn’t love it. He LOVED it.
H: The character became him, in a sense.
M: Oh absolutely. It was what they call a “signature role”. And his signature was all over it. McGarrett and Jack Lord are inseparable.
H: Do you think he got a lot of his own personality into the part?
M: What you saw was really JACK. Just a heightened version of Jack. You couldn’t really tell any difference. And I’ll tell you one thing about Jack -- he NEVER forgot his lines. And sometimes he had great long speeches -- he never forgot his lines. Or anything like that. He was very, very professional.
H: From what I’ve heard from other actors, he wanted everything planned, almost choreographed, which I guess might have been a problem with certain people who were more naturalistic and would want to just let things flow.
M: Yes. If it were up to Jack, you know -- he was like the bandleader who wanted to play all the parts. And tell everybody what to do. He would give actors line readings and stuff. But generally speaking, he had great respect for actors. There were a lot of older actors, like Luther Adler, who would come in and do stuff -- he liked the idea that he was working with them and was The Man. He had done the Actors Studio thing, and he was a Method actor. I was a young man, and never knew -- I mean, to me, acting’s acting, it’s all lying anyway. You know. One day you’re the painter, one day you’re the plumber, the next day you’re the ace pilot -- that’s acting. I didn’t know the difference between Method acting and standing up there and saying your lines. So, Jack would talk about the Method. I’ve always found that Method actors are a little on the SERIOUS side. And I don’t think acting is brain surgery, personally!