Terri's Jack Lord Connection




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TV PICTURE LIFE - February 1974

Jack Lord's wife, the former Marie de Narde, was a fashion designer but now devotes all of her time to her husband

Jack's wife, the former Marie de Narde, was a fashion designer but now devotes all of her time to her husband.

"Jack Lord seems tighter than a rubber band on a ten-cent airplane," was the way someone recently described the handsome star of televisions hit series Hawaii Five-0.

The "why" really isnít the story here - itís the "how" and when you hear how his longtime wife, Marie, eases him out of the pressure cooker of his television work, it could turn into a howl! Actually the foregoing is not gossip. We do not have a spy in a hula skirt stashed in the woodwork of Lordís $200,000 condominium next to the Kahala Hilton in lovely Hawaii. Rather this is a dramatization, based on what weíve heard, what has been written about the star, and the facts, we are led to understand, are there. So, picture this: it is late in the evening, the sun has set, after having thrilled tourists and natives alike with a myriad colored and picturesque display produced by Mother Nature, almost at the request of the Chamber of Commerce.

 A trade wind is softly running through the palm leaves on feet fashioned of soft whispers, counter-pointed by the echo of crashing surf, far inland. Jack lord hears nothing or sees nothing. He is deep in thought. He has just finished a dayís shooing on his television series and the usual problems were there in depth. He Is deep in thought about how that script didnít jell, about the reporter who made a point of referring to James MacArthur as his "co-star" (Jack has been know to say there are no co-stars on the show, only a star). Then the script girl mad a mistake and Jack got uptight in front of the crewÖthe lighting was badÖthe directorÖ

As he opened the door to his 400-square-foot apartment, Jackís wife, Marie, greeted him by his nickname: "Hi, Mick, How did it go?"

She probably could see by his scowl that it didnít go, not one terrible minute of it - but she pretended she didnít notice.

 Marie was wearing a colorful muu muu, and Jack stopped a moment to kiss her as he shrugged out of his jacket. Then he looked around the place, noticing that the apartment was dark except for the soft light provided from tapered candles in silver holders. After Marie hung up his coat, she kissed him again and he suddenly became a different man as an unexpected smile lit up his ruggedly handsome face. 

"Treatment night?" he asked in that deep, rich voice. Marie nodded and took his hand, leading him towards the bedroom, across the lush pile of carpet. They stopped at the table. The linen was white as driven snow and all the best silverware gleamed satiny in the velvety light. The air-conditioning hummed a happy tune as Marie pulled out a chair for her husband and he slid wearily into it.

"Tonight," she whispered, "itís cream of almond soup, then veal sup gum with molded cabbage and pineapple salad, and of course, baked potatoes with sour cream and chives. And for dessert, love-fruit chiffon pie."

The sage who once remarked that the way to a manís heart is through his stomach, wasnít just whistling Dixie as far as Marie was concerned - she know the truth of that statement, but wasnít just trying to capture Jackís heart, she had done that many years ago. What she was doing, they say, was tranquilizing Jack.

Some men hit the sauce when things go wrong. Others simply brood and brood and some even take mental trips. But not Jack Lord. He just works himself up to a highly nervous state and then explodes. Marie Lord knows her husband is a man who has to do things exactly right, a perfectionist, who expects the same high caliber performance from others. And when it doesnít happen, he gets more uptight than anyone should. And when the press or even his associates say anything negative about Jack, Marie always defends her husband. She is the perfect wife - an ego-builder and a staunch supporter of her husband. A woman in love and the greatest cook this side of the Waldorf Astoria!

It wasnít always this way at the Lordís. Jack used to have many swinging Saturday night parties, enjoying the company and security of old friends like Richard Denning, who has a continuing role on the series, and some other people behind the TV cameras. When Jack started to withdraw, Marie offered to have people over, but the fun weekends began to be few and far between as Lord immersed himself in work.

Marie likes to tell of how she used the excuse of some friends coming to Hawaii from Connecticut for a gala dinner party. "I must have had more than 20 people on the guest list. I had to cook for a week, but it was worth it. I made everything Jack loves. I just knew it would be a great dinner."

Well, it was. But the relaxed Jack of a few hours previous, suddenly tightened up when he got a phone call from his producers concerning a problem that had arisen. After the call he rejoined the merry-makers, but he was a different man. He wore the tight, grim expression he uses on the show in a story when he learns that Wo Fat, the legendary villain of Hawaii Five-0 has escaped again to wreak vengeance once more on the civilized world. It wasnít for another hour that he bag to loosen up.

Well, you might ask, what has he got to be so uptight about? He owns a beautiful home, has a gorgeous, loving wife, a 30-foot long 16,000 pound all-steel mobile dressing room, complete with air-conditioning, and he works in a paradise where many people vacation. His show is always way up in the ratings and he says he has enough money to retire soon.

"I believe," Jack says, firmly, "that in about five years, Iíll be able to retire with a couple of million dollars. By that time Iíll be able to realize my dream of painting (Jack is a serious and talented artist, and the Metropolitan Museum owns five of his paintings) for eight hours a day, six months a year, and direct a feature movie each year. And Iíll be able to be with my wife eight hours a day instead of a movie crew."

Well, then, whatís bugging Mr. Lord? Is it the fact that he may be the hardest working actor on video? You know, he is up every morning at 4 A.M. to study his lines, then he jogs a mile along beautiful Kahala Beach, and reports to work at 6:30 A.M. sharp. He works a minimum 12-hour day, six days a week, and some weeks he actually clocks up to 80 hours on the job!

"No, I love it," Lord smiles that gleaming grin. "And if you want to do something, do it right or forget it."

A writer recently put his hand on the Lord pulse and came up with this: "Jack has had bombs in his career. He finally came up with Stoney Burke and thought it would pull him out of the quicksand, but the series sunk in one season. Jack was heartbroken. He knows Hawaii Five-0 is it. If he doesnít cut this one, he will never make another. So he drives himself unmercifully. And he isnít making too many friends in the process. Iíve heard him say he doesnít want anybody around who wonít give him 1,000 percent loyalty. Some say Lord has become difficult to work with."

Jack and Marie, his wife of 25 years, have many friends, but the actor has few close friends. Among the select few, and the standout, is a man known as Aku, real-named Hal Lewis, a millionaire disk jockey, who knows Jack intimately. On station KGMB, Aku is a well-loved figure in the islands, and the one-time fiddle player from Seattle, Washington, and his beautiful Polynesian wife, Emma, (singer and guest actress Emma Veary) see the Lords often. "To me," Aku confesses, "Jack is a real craftsman." He says Lord "juices" himself up like a fighter, and gets everybody else "all jazzed up" with his go-go style. Aku concludes, "The guy is dedicated. Really dedicated. Never stops working."

Lord finds himself at ease with his longtime buddy because they say, Aku has the same drives Jack has. Marie enjoys testing her culinary abilities on Aku (with no negative effect) and sends food to the station - everything from her cheese balls to date nut bread. Aku often blows the whistle on Lord as he did recently when he told of a campaign Lord voluntarily waged to raise $150,000 for the retarded childrenís home or some other such good deed the actor plays down.

The star of Hawaii Five-0 is many things to many people. To co-workers, he is a tough, relentless worker who will settle for nothing less than perfection. To the haoles (mainlanders), who work on the show, he is a respected boss. To natives of the islands, he is the guy who made them famous and helped put money in their pockets. To friends, he is an intense and intelligent man, dedicated beyond all reason.

To Marie Lord, he is everything. She recently told an interviewer: "I donít think anyone else on earth knows all of Jack because there are so many facets. But I do, and that makes me one of Godís most fortunate women. Heís reserved, but heís also Irish, and that also means explosive. One more thing. Tenderness. Through all the years there have been endless, unexpected, sweet and touching expressions of it - always fresh and lovely."

What Lord never considers is that he can relax the Big Push now. He has made his mark. Early in 1969, Hawaii Five-0 was in 65th place in the ratings out of 78 shows, and insiders wrote it off as a turkey in a grass skirt. Jackís perseverance and skill, plus the loyalty and skill of his staff moved it up like a berserk roman candle as it pushed everything out of its way in the ratings. So what does Lord want now? Does he crave to be number one every week? When you get in that position, thereís no place left to go. Jack, relax!

Some viewers have noted that Lordís face seems to be more deeply etched with worry lines and that when he smiles on the show, it looks as though he is pained. Jack, real-named John J. Ryan, is no youngster. He has been said to go to great lengths not to answer questions concerning his age, and in 1969 actually told ace reporter Ben Gross of the Daily News that he was only 38, bringing a giant-sized guffaw to the lips of friends who had him figured for 49 - which would make him 53 now. But who cares? And who knows? What counts to an actor is how old he looks; and Lord still has that youthful appearance although he has been, as they say, up the pike a few times.

And if Jack Lord wants to continue to look youthful, heíd better say cool, because those dinners are great, Marie, but they can raise the devil with a manís waistline!

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