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Hawaii Five-O Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

Blue waters, sunny skies, and white sands made an attractive setting for one of America's most popular police procedurals of the 1970s, "Hawaii Five-O." The state had only been a part of the U.S. for nine years when the show first aired in 1968, so the seemingly exotic locale no doubt played a part in the show's appeal. But it was the hard-hitting crime stories and memorable characters that kept the series going for 12 seasons — not to mention a super-catchy theme song.

The Five-O, a Hawaii state police task force led by Captain Steven McGarrett, went up against dangerous criminals, international spies, and organized crime syndicates. Nearly every episode wrapped up with the perpetrator going to jail and McGarrett delivering his famous catchphrase, "Book 'em, Danno." Of course, he is speaking to his partner Danny Williams (James MacArthur), who — despite often butting heads with McGarrett on several fronts — is the perfect yin to McGarrett's yang.

In 2010, a remake, "Hawaii Five-0" (now with an "0" instead of an "O"), aired on CBS, the first series' home. The show starred Alex O'Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, Scott Caan as Danny Williams, and "Lost" alum Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly. "Hawaii Five-0" had a successful run of 10 seasons before calling it quits, the final season airing in 2020. Sadly, some of the original show's actors would never get to see the remake, having died years beforehand — and one of them was meant to be in the new series' pilot episode.

Jack Lord played the hard-hitting Detective McGarrett

Jack Lord played Steven McGarrett, leading the cast for all 12 seasons of "Hawaii Five-O." He went on to executive-produce the show for the final six years of the police procedural, as well as gaining part ownership.

Lord began his career in the theater and was a student of the illustrious Actors Studio. He was the first actor to play Felix Leiter in the James Bond film "Dr. No." Lord also starred in the 1962 television series "Stoney Burke," in which he played a rodeo cowboy. He had several TV guest appearances in shows like "Bonanza," "The Fugitive," and "Rawhide," among others. According to William Shatner's 2005 autobiography, Gene Roddenberry first offered Lord the role of Captain James T. Kirk in "Star Trek," but Lord's demands were too high (via MeTV).

Lord died of congestive heart failure in 1998 at his home in Honolulu at 77 years old. His estate was donated to Hawaiian charities following the death of his wife in 2005.

The actor who played Chin Ho was a real police officer

Actor Kam Fong (born Kam Fong Chun) was not only a Hawaiian native but a former police officer as well, making him the perfect candidate to play Chin Ho Kelly in "Hawaii Five-O." Although Fong had a few uncredited film roles, it was the hit detective series that brought the actor into the spotlight. Fong played Chin Ho Kelly for ten years before his character was killed off from the series in 1978.

Curiously, plans for a remake of the series led to Fong reprising his role in a 1997 pilot. American television producer Stephen J. Cannell wished to bring back the show with the original cast, including Fong, but apparently hadn't realized that his character had died on the show. Fong filmed his scenes anyway, as Cannell and the other producers hoped the CBS executives wouldn't notice. The pilot aired as a TV movie on the network but never kicked off as a series. As reported by The New York Times, Fong died in 2002 from lung cancer when he was 84 years old.

James MacArthur had very famous parents

James MacArthur was the adopted son of the famous playwright Charles MacArthur and stage and screen starlet Helen Hayes. Following in his parents' footsteps, McArthur pursued a career in the arts, acting for radio, theater, television, and film. MacArthur starred in several Disney films of the 1950s and '60s, including "Third Man on the Mountain," "Kidnapped," and "Swiss Family Robinson." He had guest roles in many television episodes of popular series such as "Gunsmoke" and "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," and he played a preacher in the Clint Eastwood western "High 'Em High."

It was thanks to "High 'Em High" writer Leonard Freeman — also an executive producer of "Hawaii Five-O" — that MacArthur was cast as Danny "Danno" Williams. Although MacArthur played the role for 11 years, he left before the show's final season out of boredom, feeling that the series had become too predictable. He went on to guest-star in numerous television shows throughout the 1980s, although his career would slow down significantly in '90s. Like his co-star Kam Fong, MacArthur briefly reprised his role as Danny Williams in the 1997 "Hawaii Five-O" TV movie.

While MacArthur was in talks to make a cameo appearance in the pilot episode of "Hawaii Five-0" in 2010 (via Digital Spy), it did not come to pass. MacArthur died of natural causes in Jacksonville, Florida, in October 2010, at the age of 72.

Keo Woolford had a love for theater and film

Fans of 2010's "Hawaii Five-0" may remember Detective James Chang, a recurring supporting character on the series who once hunted down Steve McGarrett as a murder suspect. Chang was played by Hawaiian Keo Woolford, who was born in Honolulu and showcased his many talents on stage and screen. In 2001, Woolford played the king of Siam in the London production of "The King and I" opposite theater great Elaine Paige. According to The Washington Post, Woolford starred in his own one-man show titled "I Land," a journey of storytelling and dance through traditional Hawaiian hula. Woolford had small roles in 2014's "Godzilla" and "Act of Valor" and wrote and directed the independent film "The Haumana," which won Best First Feature at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in 2013. 

Although Woolford had begun plans to film a sequel to "The Haumana," those plans were, sadly, cut short. Woolford died at 49 years old after complications from a stoke in 2016 (via the BBC). His "Hawaii Five-0" co-stars were deeply saddened by the news. Daniel Dae Kim posted a tribute to Woolford on his Twitter, saying: "As talented as you were, I will remember you most for your kindness. Thank you for sharing your light with us, @KeoWoolford. Rest In Peace."