In November 2009, Charley Memminger, an award-winning humor columnist, screenwriter, and author, as well as a former investigative reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, wrote an article for HONOLULU magazine. You will recognize quite a few of the names he mentions as H50 Beloved Semi-Regulars. Enjoy!
Many actors appeared in multiple episodes throughout Five-0's twelve-year run. The following actors appeared in supporting roles. Many were Hawaiians, who had little, if any, training as actors, before they learned by keeping company with the Five-0 cast and crew. Here are their stories.
One of my heroes was Herman Wedemeyer. He went to St. Louis, I went to St. Louis. And he was a great, great football player. And I tried to emulate his moves. …he was in the twelfth grade when I was in the first grade. But he was like one of my, wow, my heroes. I would go to every football game that St. Louis played. And I would watch him, and watch the way he ran, and the way he juked, and all this, and I learned from that.¨
Wilcox, Leslie. “Jimmy Borges: The First Verse” in Long Story Short. PBS:Hawaii. February 21 [year not given]. http://www.pbshawaii.org/ourproductions/longstory_guests/borges.htm
Jimmy Borges was born in the Kalihi neighborhood of Honolulu circa 1935. He graduated from St. Louis High School in Honolulu and attended college in San Francisco on a football scholarship. While in college, he sang in college rallies with such singers as Johnny Mathis.
He left college to sing and learned the ropes by singing in places like Las Vegas, Nevada; New York City; Miami, Florida; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Auckland, Australia; and Tokyo, Japan. Having paid his dues, he returned to Hawaii to perform.
Jimmy was singing at a jazz spot called Keone’s in Waikiki when Jack Lord stopped by. He liked Jimmy’s extemporaneous connection with his audience and invited him to read for a part on Hawaii Five-0. Long story short, Jimmy appeared in 15 episodes.
He went on to appear in Magnum P.I., Charlie’s Angels, and other shows and movies-of-the-week that filmed in Hawai‘i. Now, he has appeared in the H50 remake, as well.
Jimmy continues to perform in jazz concerts and lectures at universities concerning his career and his battle with liver cancer that threatened (but failed) to cut short his 57-year career in the entertainment industry.Photographs provided by and used courtesy of Jimmy Borges. Photograph 2 is a screen capture from "The Bells Toll at Noon" (Season 9).
Born Joseph Brice Moore, Jr., Joe is the son of an Air Force officer. He grew up in Honolulu and attended Aiea High School. His father’s transfer to Ohio resulted in his graduating from high school there. He went on to study communications and history at the University of Maryland. He dropped out in 1967 and served two tours of duty in Vietnam as an Army journalist and newscaster.
Moore has been a familiar face on television since 1969, when he settled in Hawai‘i. He became a sportscaster for CBS-TV affiliate KGMB in 1969. His mentor was news director Bob Sevey, a popular Five-0 face.
In 1972, Joe made his first of eleven appearances on Five-0 in "Skinhead" (Season 4). He considers his best work to have been done in "Sign of the Ram" (Season 12), "Dealer's Choice...Blackmail" (Season 9), "You Don't See Many Pirates These Days" (Season 10), and "The Case Against Philip Christie" (Season 11). Other episodes include "Murder With a Golden Touch" ( Season 6), "Bones of Contention" (Season 7), "Turkey Shoot at Makapuu" (Season 8), and "Deep Cover" (Season 10). In 1979, Jack Lord offered him a regular role on Five-0 as Danno’s replacement; however, he turned it down in favor of his sportscasting career. In 1978, he moved to NBC-TV (later FOX) affiliate KHON, where he serves as a newscaster to this day.
Moore starred in two independent films, Goodbye Paradise and Moonglow, and guest-starred in several television series set in Hawai‘i, including the original Hawaii Five-0; Magnum, PI; Tour of Duty; Jake and the Fatman; and One West Waikiki. Moore’s stage work includes three productions with Pat Sajak (Wheel of Fortune): The Odd Couple, The Honeymooners, and The Boys in Autumn. Notably, he has written and starred in plays on a number of stages in Hawai‘i. Read about them via the links, below.
He is married to Teresa and has a son, Bryce.
Read more about Joe Moore's experiences on Five-0 in "KHON's Joe Moore declined chance to be a 'Five-0' Star", which appeared in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on February 10, 2012.Mahalo nui loa to Joe Moore for correcting and adding to this article and for providing the photograph. Mahalo to EricW, for suggesting and contributing to this article.
Les Keiter was born on April 27, 1919, in Seattle, Washington, and attended the University of Washington. He married Lila Hamerslough Keiter. The couple had five children and eight grandchildren. While still newlyweds, Les and Lila Keiter moved to Hawai‘i, where Les did baseball recreations.
In the 1950s, Les moved to the mainland, where he served as sportscaster at several television stations during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1968, he announced Olympics coverage in Mexico City for Mutual Radio. He returned to Hawai‘i and began announcing the sports at KHON in the late-1960s.
Les appeared in 9 episodes (one source says 14 episodes) of H50. He was given the nickname “The General” by Joe Moore after he portrayed generals in multiple episodes of Five-0. He became a personal friend of Jack Lord.
Les Keiter’s autobiography, "Fifty Years Behind the Microphone," was formally added to the Special Collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, on June 6, 1998.
After retiring from sportscasting, he served as the media relations coordinator for the Aloha Stadium. He was a member of the Honolulu Quarterback Club. He also was inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame and the Big 5 Hall of Fame.Les Keiter died on April 14, 2009, at the age of 89, in Kailua, O'ahu.
Born on October 28, 1901, in Honolulu as Clarissa “Clara” Haili, Hilo Hattie was a vivacious personality, who loved to sing, dance, and perform naughty and comedic hulas. She began to establish her trademark movements as a child, when she danced the hula despite her mother’s objections and sang in the church choir.
Even while a teacher at Waipahu Elementary School, Clara began performing at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Waialae Country Club. She made her mark at a teacher’s convention in Portland, Oregon, when she performed Don McDiarmid’s song, When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop. Her interpretation shocked the composer, who conducted the Royal Hawaiian Hotel orchestra. When his dancer fell ill, Clara was chosen to perform her adaptation. The audience loved her, prompting her to begin using the name “Hilo Hattie.” She took the name legally when she performed in the movie Song of the Islands (1941).
In the late-1930s until well into the 1950s, Hilo Hattie performed all across the mainland in Hawaiian-themed nightclubs, which were popular at the time. She was in California when World War II broke out and performed for departing sailors in San Francisco. She went on to perform for the Red Cross, the USO, and troop hospitals, spending half of each year on the mainland.
Clara also performed on Honolulu radio station KPOA, on the (Harry) Owens/Hilo Hattie Show and went on to perform on Owens’ television program and other televised variety shows. She also performed at the Tapa Room in the Hilton Hawaiian Village, at Canoes at the Ilikai, the Kahala Hilton, the Royal Hawaiian, and the Moana Surfrider.
Hilo Hattie appeared in two episodes of Hawaii Five-0: as Tommy Kapali’s mother in “Strangers in Our Own Land” (Season 1) and as next-door neighbor, Mrs. Pruitt, in “The Late John Louisiana” (Season 3).
In 1971, at the Merrie Monarch festival in Hilo, Clara was approached by Evelyn and Richard Margolis, who wanted to design and sell Hawaiian clothing under the name of Hilo Hattie. She thus lent her name to the shop of aloha attire and souvenirs. A hybrid orchid was named for her. She was awarded the Hawai`i Aloha Award and honored with a benefit by the March of Dimes. The State of Hawai`i honored her, as well.
Clara and her (second) husband, Carlyle Nelson, retired to their home in Kaaawa. She passed away on December 12, 1979.
Derek Arthur Mau, Jr. was born in Honolulu on April 27, 1941. A graphic designer, he created props and signs used in Hawaii Five-0.
Mau appeared in four episodes of Five-0 between 1969 and 1975. He is perhaps best remembered as Mouse Hakaya in "Which Way Did They Go?" (Season 2). In addition, he appeared in two movies (names unknown). One was a western in which he portrayed an American Indian; the other was a World War II movie in which he portrayed a Japanese soldier.
Married, Mau had two daughters and a son. He passed away on August 18, 1986, of heart problems.
Yankee Chang was born Yun Kui Chang on November 13, 1907, in Honolulu. He attended McKinley High School in Honolulu and was honored by the school for admission to the Hall of Fame in 1989. He worked as chief statistician for the Honolulu Rapid Transit Company (precursor of The Bus) and was active in the Honolulu Theater for Youth, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Hawaii Chinese Civic Association, and the Chang Society.
Chang was active in local theater, as well as in television and movies. He appeared in Diamond Head, Gidget Goes Hawaiian, In Harm's Way, Charlie's Angels, Inferno in Paradise, The Brian Keith Show, I Dream of Jeannie, Ride the Wild Surf, and Seven Women From Hell. He appeared in 17 episodes of Hawaii Five-0. In 1986, Chang was given an award for Special Lifetime Achievement in Theater.
He passed away on December 24, 1989, at the age of 82.
Galen Kam was born Galen W. Y. Kam on March 7, 1934. He attended St. Louis High School in Honolulu and the University of Santa Clara. He was a past-president of the Honolulu Chinese Jaycees, a past vice-president of the Hawaii Jaycees, and a member of the Waikiki Lions Club and the Kams' Society.
Kam appeared in Magnum, PI; Vegas; McCloud; The Little People; The Islander; Stickin' Together; and The Hawaiians. He appeared in 11 episodes of Hawaii Five-0. He was a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
He passed away on December 26, 1995, at the age of 61.
A resident of the Makiki neighborhood of Honolulu, Bernard Ching was an HPD officer, by profession. Like others, he auditioned for parts on Five-0. There was one difference, however; at the end of the audition, as the other officers were dismissed, he was asked to remain. There followed an audition with Leonard Freeman that led to 20 performances on Five-0 between 1968 and 1980.
Yes, he portrayed HPD officers, but he moved on to portray such criminals as the fake Chin Ho in "Welcome to Our Branch Office" (Season 7) and the conniving pimp Ernie Kwan in "McGarrett is Missing" (Season 8). In an interview with his son, Shawn Ching, for Hawaii News Now, a publication of CBS affiliate KGMB, he described his performances by saying, "My experiences with Hawaii 5-0 were quite exhilarating."
Even after retiring from the HPD, Ching remained active with the CrimeStoppers Honolulu organization of retired policemen and others fighting against crime.
Ching passed away on May 28, 2011, at the age of 72. He is survived by his five sons, his siblings, and five grandchildren.
Born George Clarence Dennis James Von Ruckleman Woodd III, Lani Kai was the stereotypical image of the handsomely bronzed Polynesian. He was born in Honolulu on August 15, 1936, and was best known as a songwriter and performer. He wrote the well known songs "Puka Shells" and "Tutukane."
Lani Kai appeared in Elvis Presley's 1961 movie Blue Hawaii and in the television programs Adventure in Paradise and Hawaiian Eye. He appeared in three episodes of Five-0, including "Yesterday Died and Tomorrow Won't Be Born" (Season 1), "The Joker's Wild, Man, Wild" (Season 2), and "Most Likely to Murder" (Season 2).
Lani Kai died suddenly in the home of a friend on August 24, 1999. His ashes were scattered at Chun's Reef.
Kwan Hi Lim
Five-0's most snake-like bad guy, Kwan Hi Lim, was born on Maui in 1922. He grew up in Sprecklesville, Maui; however, little other information is available about his early life. He studied law at Boston Law College and Duke University and became a lawyer and judge, practicing between 1953 and in the 1990s.
Kwan was in his 40s when his acting career began. A Five-0 casting director observed him flirting with some tourists and hired him. Without any training in the art of acting, Kwan joined the series. He appeared in 25 episodes between 1970 and 1980.
When Five-0 ended production, Kwan began acting in Magnum, PI (1982-1987), where he portrayed HPD Lt. Yoshi Tanaka. He also appeared in episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man (1978) when it filmed in the islands, and other island-based television programs and movies. Although he could play serious roles, he is also reputed to have had a flair for comedy.
The Screen Actor's Guild reports that Kwan Hi Lim passed away in Hawai`i on December 22, 2008; he was 86 years old.
Robert W. (Bob) Sevey was news anchor and news director at television station KGMB in Honolulu. He appeared in nine episodes of Hawaii Five-0. In some of those episodes, he portrayed himself.
Sevey was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on December 16, 1927. Rather than work his way up to television journalism through the print news media, he began his career in radio and advertising in Phoenix, Arizona. He joined the KGMB news team in 1954 and became known as "The Walter Cronkite of the Pacific" for his professional and highly respected delivery of the news.
Many journalists and communications specialists in Hawai`i today learned their craft from Sevey. One of his proteges is now a judge, while another heads communications for Hawai`i Public Television. All honored him at a reunion dinner in Kailua, O`ahu, in September 2008.
Critics faulted Sevey for being "old school," preferring to hire male anchors than female ones. When a mainland firm bought the station and demanded that Sevey make the changes that other news teams were making to their programs and delivery in 1986, Sevey decided he had had enough and left KGMB and newscasting.
Sevey went on to help Cecil Landau Heftel, former KGMB owner, in his unsuccessful bid for governor in 1986, and made advertisements on behalf of Hawaiian Airlines. In 1989, he left Hawai`i and moved to Washington State.
Sevey passed away on February 20, 2009. He is succeeded by his wife, Rosalie, and their two sons.
Little personal information is available for Morgan White, who portrayed Attorney General Walter Stewart in six episodes in Season 1. It was Stewart who recommended Steve McGarrett to head special investigations for the State of Hawai`i. Stewart and McGarrett had worked together in the Navy, where they had successfully prosecuted Joseph Trinian as told in "Yesterday Died and Tomorrow Won't Be Born" (Season 1).
White, who began his career as a rock-and-roll disc jockey in Denver, was affiliated with KGMB television and radio. He was best known throughout Hawai`i as Pogo Poge, a character on The Checkers & Pogo Show. The program was produced by CBS affiliate, KGMB. White not only co-starred on the show; he also served as writer and producer. The program ran from March 1967 until 1982, with White carrying it alone after 1979. In addition, White made television commercials for such clients as HonFed and ASB. His most recent role was as Judge Saueya in the made-for-TV movie At Mother's Request (ITV, 1987).
He passed away September 3, 2010, at his home in Utah, at the age of 86.
Whether he was portraying Frank Okawa, the local manager of World Wide Travelers Checks, in 3,000 Crooked Miles to Honolulu" (Season 4) or the eely Larry Toba, blackmailer for the Veritex Corporation in "You Don't Have to Kill to Get Rich, but It Helps" (Season 5), Tom Fujiwara made an indelible impression upon our memories. In all, Fujiwara appeared in 23 episodes, from 1969 to 1980.
In an interview with Jerry Pickard, Fujiwara said he was not a Japanese-American, but an American. That did not stop him from portraying a karate expert in "To Hell With Babe Ruth" (Season 2), nor did it stop him from portraying such heavies as jewelry fence Charlie Ling ("The Burning Ice," Season 4).
Now well into his 70s, Fujiwara grew up in Honolulu. While still in school, he discovered his talent for acting. He was the opening performer at The Clouds, a nightclub located on the present site of the Queen Kapi`olani Hotel in Waikiki. He was emcee at the Oasis Club when he was tapped him to read for Five-0.
Fujiwara has appeared in numerous television series, including Magnum, PI, Hart to Hart, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Charlie's Angels. He has also appeared in such movies as Midway and Around the World in 80 Days.
Born in Hilo on November 15, 1935, Danny Kamekona was descended from those close to Hawaiian royalty. His father was related to the standard bearer of Paa Kahili O Kamehameha, while his mother descended from Chief Kanekoa of Kau. He graduated from the Kamehameha Schools and performed in the Hawaii Youth Theater and the Hawaii Opera and regional theater.
Kemekona appeared in 32 episodes of Five-0, playing police officers and heavies, alike, from 1968 through 1979. Notably, he portrayed forensics specialist Che Fong before Harry Endo took over the role.
In addition, he appeared in other television series, including Magnum, PI, Rockford Files, and Barnaby Jones, and in such movies as Midway and War and Remembrance.
Kamekona passed away on May 2, 1996, at his home in Los Angeles. He was succeeded by his wife, Michiko, and their two children.
Nephi Hannemann, the tall, strapping brother of Honolulu's former mayor, Mufi Hannemann, graduated from Farrington High School in Kalihi, O`ahu. He was playing football for the University of Hawai`i when he took a dare to sing at a Don Ho show. That led to his packing hotels and nightclubs in Waikiki, singing to tourists as “Mr. Polynesian Man.” He and his friend Lani Kai were putting together an album when Kai died.
Nephi was first seen on Five-0 as AWOL sailor John Mala in “Run, Johnny. Run” (Season 2). In “Is This Any Way to Run a Paradise?” (Season 4), he acted in the name of the Hawaiian god Kahili, breaking the law in protest against ecological wrongs. In all, he appeared in eleven episodes between 1969 and 1979. Besides Five-0, Hannemann appeared in McCloud, Barnaby Jones, Disneyland, and One West Waikiki television series. In One West Waikiki, he moved to the other side of the law, portraying a detective.
Hannemann also joined two partners to create the Maui Quarterly and served as the advertising director and main writer of that business and travel magazine. Currently, Hannemann is a spokesman for The Polynesian Man healthcare products.
David "Lippy" Espinda, who was born on November 2, 1913, was known as the “King of Pidgin” and as the originator of the “shaka” sign and the greeting “Shaka, Brah.” He owned a gas station and used-car lot, which were seen in "A Thousand Pardons, You're Dead" (Season 2) next door to Betsy's bar. Look carefully, and you can see the sign bearing the name "Lippy Espinda Used Cars." Lippy was best known as the emcee of “Lippy’s Lanai Theater,” as a benefit auctioneer, and as a banquet speaker.
We know Lippy best as the taxi driver in “The Guarnerius Caper” (Season 3) and as the informer who called dollar bills “crispies” in “‘V’ for Vashon: The Patriarch.” In all, Lippy Espinda appeared in eleven episodes of Five-0 between 1970 and 1975. His last appearance was as pawn shop owner Kaneho in “The Waterfront Steal” (Season 8), which was filmed shortly before his death.
In addition, Espinda performed as Hanalei in three episodes of The Brady Bunch (1972), as a workman in Inferno in Paradise (1974), and as Chief in He Is My Brother (1975).
David “Lippy” Espinda died on June 7, 1975, at the age of 61.
Alan Naluai appeared in five episodes between 1968 and 1977. He also appeared in McCloud and The Hawaiians.
Naluai is best remembered as a member of the musical group, The Surfers, with whom he played for more than 20 years. Advertiser columnist Wayne Harada wrote that Naluai’s “onstage hilarity…often belied his vocal prowess.” Even when he was playing heavies on Five-0, there was a hint of comedy in his facial expressions.
In addition to performing with The Surfers, Naluai wrote music; he was completing an album of his compositions at the time of his death. He also sold real estate.
Naluai died of a heart attack on March 10, 2001, at the age of 62. He is survived by his wife, their six children and eleven grandchildren, as well as a large and warm extended family.
Jorie Remus stood out quite spectacularly in Five-0, considering the fact that she was a nightclub performer and not a television or film actress. To her credit, she had performed in several plays off-Broadway. Perhaps, she was most notable as the madame with the wind chime earrings, Dollie, in "You Don't Have to Kill to Get Rich, But It Helps" (Season 5).
Ms. Remus was born on March 17, 1929, in New York City. Little is known about her, except that she was a comedienne, who performed in night clubs in San Francisco, most notably at The Purple Onion, where she helped Maya Angelou start her singing career. In addition, she is known to have influenced the early works of Phyllis Diller.
In his book, Intimate Nights, James Gavin described Jorie Remus: "Remus resembled an over-the-hill Vogue model. Fortyish, with a fabulous body and a face that she described as 'interesting' rather than pretty, she looked as if she had enjoyed the high life a little too long..." That description certainly fits Ms. Remus' appearance as Dollie.
Sadly, Jorie Remus' career was severely damaged by erroneous reports of her death. Although she still was living then (the early 1990s), it is unknown whether she is living at this time.
Jorie Remus appeared in six episodes of Five-0, as well as one episode of Magnum, PI. Those are her only two screen appearances.
Brian Tochi appeared in three episodes (parts 1 and 2 of "Number One With a Bullet" and "The Pagoda Factor," all seen in Season 11). He was irresistible as Joey Lee in all three, so let's include him.
Brian Tochi was born Brian Keith Tochihara on May 2, 1963, in Los Angeles, the son of Joe Isao Tochihara and Jane Yaeko Harada Toshihara. His father owned a celebrity hair salon in Beverly Hills. It was there that an agent for child actors discovered Brian.
Brian's first television appearance was in He & She starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss (married in real life) and produced by Leonard B. Stern, who would go on to produce McMillan & Wife. His debut as a series regular was as the Crown Prince Chilalongkorn in Anna and the King with Yul Brenner. Also in the show were Samantha Eggar and Keye Luke, who would go on to appear in Five-0. Tochi's other television work is too voluminous to list but includes appearances on The Streets of San Francisco, Police Story, Marcus Welby MD, Space Academy, and Fantasy Island.
Brian Tochi co-wrote, produced, and directed Tales of a Fly on the Wall (2004) and wrote the screenplay for In the Heat of the Light, which won the Hollywood Screenplay Award (2005). He has lent his voice to many animated films, computer games, and other works.
He supports humanitarian causes, especially those benefitting children and the environment.
No biographical information is available for Mel Kinney; however, the articles attached to these links provide a little bit of background for him:
Remembering Mel Kinney. http://zenwaterman.blogspot.com/2012/02/on-mel-kinney-by-len-barrow.html
Who’s That Boy? http://archives.starbulletin.com/1996/10/22/news/story3.html
Those With Limited Biographical Data
A Man of Many Nationalities
One of the most beloved semi-regulars was Wright Esser about whom so little is known that we don't know that he did between a movie he made in 1949, The Great Lover, and his first of eleven appearances on Hawaii Five-0. We know only that he was born in England in 1907 and that he died in Honolulu in 1976. Oh! And we know that he was called upon to play men of English, German, Greek, and even South American backgrounds.
He portrayed the English genetic engineer, Dr. Michael Crighton, in "Forty Feet High and It Kills" (Season 2); German boat/ship captains in "Cocoon" (pilot) and "Small Witness, Large Crime" (Season 7); a German sociology professor in "The Young Assassins" (Season 7); a German Interpol officer in both parts of "The Ninety-Second War" (Season 4); a Dutch jeweler in "Fools Die Twice" (Season 5); a Greek doctor in "The Second Shot" (Season 3); and a South American diplomat in "Savage Sunday" (Season 2).
Do you remember "Love is a Many Splendored Thing," that wonderful
moviefrom 1955, which starred WilliamHolden and Jennifer Jones? Well, it seems that four actors who appeared in it went on to appear in Hawaii Five-0. They are:
* Soo Young (Huang)
LilyAhn in "Grandstand Play" part 2
- Mme. Sung in "Follow the White Brick Road"
- Servant in "Yes, My Deadly Daughter"
- Chaperone in "The Pagoda Factor"
* Keye Luke, who portrayed Senator Oishi in "All the King's Horses"
* Philip Ahn
- Attorney General in "Cocoon"
- Quon Li in "Sweet Terror"
- Lin May-Lu in "Journey Out of Limbo"
* Richard Loo, who portrayed Wong Tu in "Twenty-Four Karat Kill"
My! What talented actors H50 attracted!
Soo Yong was born on Maui and lived there throughout her lifetime -- except when she was away, acting, that is.