Friday, March 27, 2009

James MacArthur - A Class Act and a Good Guy

I was channel surfing last night and happened to comes across an old Disney film, Swiss Family Robinson. The cast included James MacArthur, who is probably best remembered for his role as Danny Williams, sidekick to Jack Lord in the CBS series, Hawaii 5-0. (“Book ‘em, Danno!”)

I knew Jim back in those days and seeing that clip brought to mind a story about him that’s worth sharing.

I was running an advertising agency in Honolulu – this incident occurred sometime in the mid-80s – and had asked Jim if he would appear in a couple of 30-second commercials for a client of ours, a small local bank. He certainly didn’t need the money, and we could only pay him a pittance but, the very good guy that he is, Jim agreed to do it … more as a personal favor to me than anything else, I’m sure.

The shoot was set for 8:00 on a Saturday morning when the bank was normally closed. Jim showed up on time and was his usual friendly, professional self throughout the day. We shot one commercial at the bank’s downtown branch, broke for lunch, then moved out to the Manoa area for the second spot at another branch. As I recall, we finished at about 3:00.

Jim and I were chatting as the crew was packing up, and that’s when I learned he had returned from ten days of skiing in Aspen, Colorado, just the night before.

In fact, as the story unfolded, it turned out that there had been a severe snowstorm and his original flight out of Aspen had been cancelled. So Jim rented a car, drove 200 miles to Denver, and caught a flight to LA where he changed planes for the five-hour flight to Honolulu. Naturally, there had been an additional delay at LAX and by the time he got home and to bed it was after 3:00 a.m. Yet there he was the next morning, right on time without a word of complaint, ready to do our little commercials, for which he was being paid pocket change.

As you see, I’ve never forgotten that. In fact, I think of it every time I read about some temperamental actor pitching a fit over some non-issue or making unreasonable demands.

So here’s to James MacArthur, actor … a consummate professional and all ‘round good guy.


1 comment:

Thomas said...

Great story, what a nice guy.... I was fortunate to be referred to James McArthur to build a cabinet of Hawaiian Koa for his apartment...I was downtown and noticed that they were filming Hawaii 5 0, so I went closer to see if I could see Jim..He saw me and directed me behind the set where he and the actors were seated..Jim introduced me to Jack Lord and some others. What a thrill for a young carpenter from Virginia who grew up watching these guys and dreaming of Hawaii. I will never forget that there was a tall directors chair with Jack Lord on it, and a shorter one with James MacArthur ....Tom Dittrich,,Shawnee, Kansas