Terri's Jack Lord Connection
Behind every successful man there is…
By Gregory McGill
TV Star Parade
Jack Lord talks frankly about the secret force behind his success…Marie.
Gross words hung suspended in the air. For a moment, the diners at the luncheon honoring Jack Lord thought the comment was going to be overlooked. Then, in a flash, the question was posed: "What did you say?" By the fierce look in the questioner’s eyes, the Hawaiian businessman who had made the gross remark suddenly realized he was in trouble. He tried to laugh it off, but Jack Lord wouldn’t let him. He just kept coming towards him with an intense anger that could not be averted. Jack was off and no one could stop him. He intended to teach the man that no one had the right to speak that way in front of his wife, Marie.
Anyone can tell you that watching Jack Lord come at you with violence in his eyes is a truly terrifying experience. If it hadn’t been for Marie saying, "Let it go, Jack, he’s not worth it," the businessman might have had a sorry time in store. As it was, Jack cornered and said, "If I ever hear you curse in front of my wife, I’ll teach you a lesson you’ll never forget." Observers noted that Jack’s incredible temper, which was on the verge of exploding, had reached a new dimension, inasmuch as Jack seemed finally able to control it. But it was Marie, the only woman present at the luncheon, who said to Jack, "Come on, Jack, I need a walk." Suddenly everything was forgotten and Jack and Marie Lord swept out, hand in hand, looking like two young lovers, instead of a couple married twenty-four years.
This incident is only one example in many of this change that has come over Jack Lord. It is almost as if Jack has realized how important Marie has been to him, and he has decided to honor her for it. After years of keeping Marie in the background of his life, Jack has finally acknowledged the tremendous difference having a wife whose life has centered around him as made. In the past, Marie has, by choice, stayed far in the background, turning the spotlight over to Jack. Content to bask in his glow, more proud of his success than he himself. Marie has been the model wife. Jack, who had been complacent about Marie’s contribution, has suddenly realized what she has meant to him. The incident at the luncheon was a small example of his special kind of love and care which does not allow anyone to take precedent. Friends know that Jack is now devoting himself to giving Marie the love that he may have forgotten she deserved.
They have always been close, right from the start, but as the years went by and Jack’s fame began to grow, their life was filled with the same domestic routine and emotional neglect as occurs in many marriages. It took a real shock to make Jack realize that he owes to much of his success to his beloved wife.
It happened while he was shooting "Hawaii Five-0." It has been a particularly grueling day. The last shot was to be a dangerous leap between buildings six stories high. No one seemed to be able to convince Jack that he shouldn’t attempt it. Jack is the kind of man who likes to think he can do it all, rarely allowing anyone else to take his risks. But in this instance, it was an extremely dangerous leap, and he would have been better off letting a professional stunt man do it. But he wouldn’t. He did the leap himself. He made it, but it was so close that Jack suddenly realized what he had done. As he told a close friend later, "I risked all for a little vanity. I mean, I could have been killed just because I was proud. You know what went through my mind when I slipped toward the edge of the building?- Marie’s face. That’s right. I saw Marie."
That was the beginning. It was a shock of recognition that Jack has not forgotten. From that point on, he has been busy trying to make up for the neglect with which he feels he had treated Marie. And his efforts have brought a new happiness to both of them. Suddenly, Marie has emerged out of the shadows of Jack’s life with a special smile and an obvious love and need for her husband, enjoying the reverend attention Jack pays to her, but more importantly, being happy about two facts which have always pleased her—the fact that she is married to a man whom she totally loves and that she has exactly the life she wants. Few women can make that boast, and as Marie once said, "Marriage is alike all of life’s big choices. You never really know whether it was the right one until way after the choice is made. With my marriage, I have always trusted my heart, for it has been so warm since I met Jack. I admit there have been periods when it has been rough; being married to an actor always means constant change. But it also means being married to an exceptional man, for it takes something truly special to devote your life to something as uncertain as being as actor. All I know is I have few regrets."
In a life that has been filled with constant change, Jack and Marie have managed to remain constant to each other, whatever else has happened. In a time when marriages are considered short excursions, Jack has managed to take a long voyage with a woman who has devoted her life to his happiness. An incident that occurred years before, which may best show their know of marriage, was when Jack was playing on Broadway in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Marie had been to see Jack play the part of the confused football player every night, and he used her as a barometer as to how his performance was stabilizing. One night, when he entered his dressing room, he looked to Marie for confirmation, but it wasn’t forthcoming.
Instead, as Jack tells it, "Marie was scowling and looked me straight in the eye, saying without words, ‘you stank.’ For the very first time in my life I realized she was right. I saw what I had one in an objective way. I had been able to remove my ego from my acting and I could see myself the way Marie did. I just went over and, much to her surprise, kissed her with gratitude. Late I explained why, but in that moment there, I vowed to myself that Marie would be the one to whom I would listen."
It is those private covenants which build a happiness as only people like the lords can know. The trust they exhibit with one another is so complete that, at this point in their marriage, it is taken for granted. Few questions have been verbalized, since a glance or a shared look is enough to tell one what the other is thinking. It is only the fact that Jack needed a shock to renew his conscious thoughts about how important Marie is to him, that surprise any onlooker. In their few public appearances, they have shown such special devotion to one another, that their love has always been unmistakable. In another sense, Jack is the kind of man who holds most of his real feelings deep within him, and Marie may have become such an extension of himself that in the past he might have lost the feeling which he described as "that special click inside me that lets me know when Marie is in the room."
But any observer could easily tell that they are two people who are so close, that it is hard to distinguish them. Watching them hold hands, happy as two kids looking as if the world were their special place and it all belonged to them, anyone can sense a special feeling of hope, since, in many ways, Jack and Marie are an advertisement that any couple is capable of achieving a good marriage.
Many people say that at the time Jack decided to give up his stage aspirations and devote himself to TV, if it hadn’t been for Marie, he would have been unable to accept the reality of the sudden change. His is a fierce and deep dedication, and the stage has always been his first love. Only the practical facts of life forced him to move on to a place where he could find the kind of fame and personal security he has now acquired. From the time he did "Stoney Burke," (which was an instant success) until now, Jack has had an unbroken line of achievements, and, in no small part, Marie is responsible.
So in the midst of that large luncheon honoring Jack for his contribution to Hawaii, Jack took Marie’s hand and, very quietly, sneaked out, preferring to walk slowly together, holding hands, than to be around the large crowd and some foul tongues. As always, Jack and Marie were happiest alone together. The honors heaped upon Jack really belong to both of them, and Jack was the first to admit it. As he said, "I owe it all to my wife…"