Actor Al Harrington, a cast member of the original “Hawaii Five-0,” died on Tuesday in Honolulu at the age of 85.
The Honolulu Star Advertiser quoted family members as saying that he was hospitalized after suffering a stroke.
From 1969 to 1975, Harrington appeared in a total of 64 episodes of the CBS crime drama, playing different characters in five episodes before becoming Detective Ben Kokua.
The cast included Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, James MacArthur as Danny Williams, Kam Fong as Chin Ho, Zulu as Kono, Herman Wedemeyer as Duke, and Harry Endo as Che Fong, all of whom have passed on. Harrington replaced original cast member Zulu.
When CBS rebooted “Hawaii Five-0,” Harrington had a recurring role as surf shop owner and bus driver Mamo Kahike, appearing in 10 episodes from 2011 to 2018.
His other TV credits included “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Jeffersons,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “Jake and the Fatman,” “The Byrds of Paradise,” “Family Law” and “Scrubs.”
He also appeared in movies, including “White Fang 2” and “Forrest Gump.” His last big-screen role was in “You May Not Kiss the Bride” (2011).
Born Tausau Ta’a in American Samoa in 1935, Harrington was raised by his maternal grandmother in the village of Mapusaga in Pago Pago until he was three. His mother, Lela Suapaia, sent for him to join her while she was working as a nurse in Honolulu. She married Roy Milbur Harrington, a native of Michigan, who had come to Hawaii as a serviceman with the Army and later became a member of the Honolulu Police Department.
Harrington excelled at theater and American football at Punahou School, where he was a member of the Class of 1954. He led his team to the league championships at Honolulu Stadium and was the first high school football All-American to come out of Hawaii.
After attending Menlo College in Atherton, San Mateo County, from 1954 to 1955, he transferred to Stanford University, where he played football and aspired to become a drama major but graduated in 1958 with a B.A. in history. The Baltimore Colts were interested in him, but he returned to Honolulu and worked as a Polynesian dancer. This led to an appearance on the game show “To Tell the Truth.”
Harrington worked as a history teacher at Punahou and professor at the University of Hawaii. He also performed as an entertainer in Waikiki, earning the moniker of “The South Pacific Man.” His popularity in the 1970s and ’80s made him a household name in Hawaii. He had a long-running dance revue show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, and helped define the entertainment industry in Hawaii.
Active in the LDS Church, he had one of the lead parts in “The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd” (2000), a film produced by the church. He also played Thomas Trueblood in “Light of the World: A Celebration of Life,” which was put on by the church in Salt Lake City during the Olympics there in 2002.
He is survived by his wife, Rosa, sons Alema and Tau, daughters Summer Harrington and Cassi Harrington Palmer, and several grandchildren.