Terri's Jack Lord Connection
Your Only Son Is Drowned
Jack Lordís teenage marriage ended in heartbreak.
After a 13-year silence, he got a letterÖ
From Walter Rainbird in Hollywood
Detective Steve McGarrett has his celluloid enemies in the Hawaii Five-0 television series. But Jack Lord, the man who plays him, has enemies for real.
While McGarrett is an open book to views the world over, Lord - Honoluluís resident star - is accused of being aloof and "not on view" to anyone. Least of all to nosey mainlanders.
Lord, say his non-friends, has a compulsion to control everyone and everything. He regards himself as the only star in London Weekendís Hawaii Five-0.
Lord can rub people up the wrong way. Why he does it is a mystery to most.
Beneath all the ego-trips and carefully constructed facades is a man buried so deep that a few people ever get a look at him.
The dark corners of his life are blocked out. He never talks about them. Never mentions the names of those involved.
He believes: "The real victory is to survive." We are only supposed to know about Hawaii Five-0, its success and the 83-hour week he puts into it.
Yet I have one clue to Lordís real identity. The bitter ending of a teenage marriage left him feeling too vulnerable, to0 hurt, far too soon in life.
Lord was born John Joseph Patrick Ryan, in Brooklyn, the son of a master-mariner. Like his father, Ryan turn to the sea.
Just shy of 19, he signed on as fourth officer on a Mediterranean cruise ship. On board was a lovely 18-year-old girl, on her way to a Swiss boarding school. She was the daughter of an Argentinean diplomat and Ryan fell in love with her.
It was one of those fair-tale romances. By the time the cruise ship docked on the Riviera, they were Mr. and Mrs. John Ryan - married by the shipís captain.
While the girl traveled on to Switzerland, Ryanís tour of duty required him to sail back to New York.
But he was to see her only once more before the marriage broke up.
Back in New York, he received a note from his new bride saying she was pregnant and going to join her parents in Spain.
She added that they might regard Ryanís presence as an "intrusion." They were furious about her pregnancy, because they had wanted her to finish college.
Would he mind waiting until the baby was born before coming to Europe? The letter left him hurt and puzzled.
He had rented his idea of a dream house at Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Did she mean she would never join him there? The baby was a boy. Ryan saw him only once. On that same day his young wife explained to him that she didnít want to continue the marriage.
She asked him for a divorce, saying her parents would care for the child until she completed her education.
Reluctantly, Ryan agreed.
Any letter he sent to her afterwards was returned unopened. She had blotted him out of her life.
Thirteen years later, Ryan received a slender envelope. It contained no letter, not so much as a brief note. The only enclosure was his sonís death certificate - the boy had drowned.
His tragic first marriage over and done with at 20, left John Ryan hell-bent on "survival." One more experience was to heighten his resolve.
It was 1944 and Ryan already an experienced seaman, joined the war-time merchant marine.
The Liberty ship to which Ryan had been assigned put into an East African port to pick up manganese ore. With its cargo, the ship was running briskly along the coast, when a thunderous explosion filled the sky with fragments of the stern.
The torpedoed ship, helpless as a riddled duck, began to sink. The attack was so sudden that the crew wasnít able to get off an SOS.
The captain gave the abandon-ship signal and three lifeboats were launched. The ship went down fast. It was gone in seven minutes, leaving a mass of debris on the oily surface.
Drifting in a lifeboat for 16 hours, Ryan thought death was staring him down, while his youth called out for life.
If he survived, he resolved, he would pack the years ahead with purposeful and conscientious living. He would make a fresh start, with a new ambition, perhaps a new wife and a new name.
This was the beginning of Jack Lord, "the pragmatist," as he describes himself, "the tough professional."
All that mattered now was to succeed.
Along the route, a private miracle happened. He married an American-born girl of French parentage, called Marie de Narde. While Lord put everything into his career, Marie devoted herself to their home.
Their marriage has lasted almost 22 years and has never been in danger of breaking up. Lord needed that successful marriage. His dreams of success as a Hollywood star never materialized. He wanted the star treatment, but never got it.
Hawaii Five-0 gave him the chance to be top dog. Because he lives and works in Hawaii, Lord is the man of the hour, the star. After all, there are not many TV shows filmed in Hawaii.
Lord claims the show is his labor of love, an extension of himself.
He says: "I work hard on it. I give it my best. I allow nothing less than the best from those around me. Thatís the way it has to be if you expect to stay at the top."
He is so proud of Hawaii Five-0 that he threatens to leave for good if anybody tries to tamper with it.
A director who has worked with Lord said: "You have to treat him like Paul Schofield. Otherwise, he just wonít react to your direction. Jack is undirectable. Since I am a director, I find that unbearable."
Yet against all the barbing and bitching that goes on behind his back, Lord sets his jaw and metes out huge helpings of praise for his own efforts. He said: "Five-0 is a fine show. And it has a great deal of influence.
"Tourism has been very favorably affected in Hawaii as a result of our show. Yes, it has real impact, you know.
"Itís our jungle and weíre fighting for our lives. Like kamikaze pilots on an impossible assignment.
"Look at me - Iím a god-damned monk. And my poor wife has been putting up with it for years."
Whatís the reaction from the men who work with him - his co-stars?
James MacArthur, how plays Danny Williams, declines to talk about Lord. Kam Fong, one-time Honolulu cop turned actor, who plays Chin Ho, says his lips are similarly sealed.
As for Zulu, (he plays Kono) a co-worker says: "Jack wonít let him do anything. Consequently Zulu exists as a dumb Hawaiian as far as the mainlanders are concerned. And that bugs him."
People who know Lord are mocking him in war-chant fashion: "Jack Lord, superstar, are you as great as your great PR?" But they can say what they like. And Lord remains impregnable in the ivory tower he has built around himself - his lavish apartment at Kahala, over-looking palm trees and the Pacific.
Lord says: "It is furnish with the things we love - our books, our art collection. We have not children, no relatives and are totally dedicated to each other and to our marriage. Marie is all I care about in this world."
As for Marie? She says: "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. Jack is the kind who never whimpers. He just squares off his jaw and starts all over again."
With that kind of dedication from his wife, maybe Lord feels he doesnít need to win friends or influence people. He said: "I learned long ago to have my own way. Once you begin to give here, you give there and once youíve prostituted your ideas, your goals, you artistic concepts, then you are a hack who will sell themselves to a carnival if need be."
By remaining a closed book, this enigma of the islands reckons he is safe. But safe from what?
Perhaps Jack Lord is still struggling to bury John Joseph Patrick Ryan, the young man who didnít quite succeed with all his ideals.
So, as long as he continues to do so, Lord will seem aloof and all the things his critics say of him.
***Note from Terri - There are a few spelling and grammatical errors contained in this article. I typed it exactly how it appeared in the article.