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Jack Lord

Lord as Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O
Born John Joseph Patrick Ryan
December 30, 1920(1920-12-30)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died January 21, 1998 (aged 77)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S

John Joseph Patrick Ryan (December 30, 1920 – January 21, 1998), best known by his stage name Jack Lord, was an American television, film, and Broadway actor. He was best known for his starring role as Steve McGarrett in the American television program Hawaii Five-O from 1968 to 1980. Lord also appeared in several classic feature films earlier in his career, among them Man of the West (1958) starring Gary Cooper. He was the first actor to play recurring character Felix Leiter in the first James Bond film Dr. No (1962) starring Sean Connery.


Early years

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jack Lord was the son of Irish-American parents. His father, William Lawrence Ryan was a steamship company executive. He developed his equestrian skills on his mother's fruit farm in the Hudson River Valley. At the age of fifteen he started spending summers at sea, and from the deck of cargo ships, painted and sketched the landscapes he encountered — Africa, the Mediterranean and China. He was educated at John Adams High School in Ozone Park, New York, Fort Trumbull United States Merchant Marine Academy, then located in New London, Connecticut, graduating as an Ensign with a Third Mates License.

He attended New York University on a football scholarship, and earned a degree in Fine Arts. He spent the first year of World War II with the War Department's Corps of Engineers, in building bridges in Persia. He then returned to the Merchant Marine as an Able Seaman before enrolling in the deck officer course at Fort Trumbull. While making maritime training films, he took to the idea of acting.

This is when he decided to attend the Neighborhood Playhouse, working first as a salesman for Horgan Ford, then later as a Cadillac salesman in New York to fund his studies. Later, at the Actor's Studio, he studied with Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, and Marilyn Monroe.

Lord's first marriage to Anne Willard ended in divorce. Lord met his son (from his first marriage) only once when the boy was an infant. The boy was later killed in an accident at age thirteen.[1] Later, he married Marie de Narde.


His first work on Broadway was in Traveling Lady with Kim Stanley. He was then cast as a replacement for Ben Gazzara in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Prior to that he had been in several off-Broadway and pre-Broadway plays including The Little Hut (his first play), The Illegitimist, and The Savage. His first Hollywood movie role was in The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell with Gary Cooper. Early in his career, he met his wife, Marie de Narde, who gave up her own career to support him.

Lord starred in Williamsburg: the Story of a Patriot, which has run daily at Colonial Williamsburg since 1957 — the longest running film in history.

Jack Lord as CIA agent Felix Leiter in Dr. No (1962)

Lord was the first actor to play the character of Felix Leiter in the James Bond film series, introduced in the first Bond film, Dr. No. According to screenwriter Richard Maibaum, Lord demanded co-star billing, a bigger role and more money to reprise the Felix Leiter role [2] in Goldfinger which resulted in director Guy Hamilton casting the role to an older actor to make Leiter more of an American "M".

In 1962, Lord starred as Stoney Burke, a rodeo cowboy from Mission Ridge, South Dakota, in the television series of that name, which featured Warren Oates and Bruce Dern in recurring supporting roles. He also appeared in an episode of Bonanza. Other television guest appearances include such series as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Reporter starring Harry Guardino, The Fugitive, The Untouchables, The Invaders, Rawhide, Ironside, and The F.B.I..

He starred for twelve seasons on Hawaii Five-O as Detective Steve McGarrett. A noted "fast study" in learning lines, Lord was, according to Executive Producer Leonard Freeman, sent the script for the pilot on Saturday, accepted the role and boarded a plane for Hawaii on Sunday, and arrived on the set fully prepared Monday morning. The opening shot of Lord on the penthouse roof of the Ilikai Hotel is notable, because the hotel's owner was named Chinn Ho, namesake of Chin Ho Kelly, a regular character in the series. Lord's catchphrase, "Book 'em, Danno!", became a part of pop culture history. While he was dubbed "the Lord" (behind his back) by the cast and crew of Hawaii Five-O because of his imperious manner and partly due to a deserved reputation as a perfectionist, he was also instrumental in the casting of native Hawaiians wherever possible, instead of mainland actors. It was Lord who insisted his character be given Ford Motor Company products to drive.[1]

In 1965, Jack Lord was considered for the role of Captain Kirk on Star Trek; the role ultimately went to William Shatner. Because Lord wanted to co-produce and have a percentage in ownership of the series, he was ultimately rejected by both Gene Roddenberry and Desilu Studios.


Two of his paintings were acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum of Modern Art by the time he was twenty. Lord was also known for being a very cultured man who loved reading poetry out loud on the set of his TV show and as being somewhat reclusive at his Honolulu home.


Jack Lord died of congestive heart failure at his home on January 21, 1998 in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the age of 77. He left an estate of $40 million, and being a philanthropist in his lifetime, the entire estate went to various Hawaiian charities upon his wife Marie's death in 2005.[3] Portions of their estate were auctioned on eBay in March 2007.

Friends of Lord claimed that in his final years he suffered from Alzheimer's disease.[4][5]


External links

Preceded by
Felix Leiter actor
Succeeded by
Cec Linder


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