Remembering Jack Lord

Remembering Jack Lord

Sometimes, a person reaches out and touches us. We feel his influence as surely as if we have known him every day of our lives. As I read through statements made by Jack in his many interviews, I come to see that he really was quite open about who he was and the lessons he learned in life. He may not have given us his hat size, but he did give us much of what was in his heart.

Time after time, people see a picture of Jack and say, "Oh, look! It's Jack Lord!"  Although he has been gone these many years, he is not forgotten.
Jack Lord, born John Joseph Patrick Ryan, was -- and is -- a man to be admired and respected. He is a man who touches us by what he believed and how he lived. But he was not always that way. Like all of us, Jack started out young and naive. Although he stumbled along the way, he found his footing and continued to grow ? giving to and doing for others ? until, at the end of his life, he was nothing less than an elder statesman.
As an actor, Jack chose projects that stood above the ordinary; for example, he appeared as Brick Pollitt in the 1955 Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; as Felix Leiter in the very first James Bond movie, Dr. No; and as Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-0. He appeared with such noted actors as Gary Cooper, Sean Connery, Helen Hayes, and Barbara Bel Geddes. 
Long before Jack discovered acting, he discovered the art of painting. He was in high school when he won the prestigious St. Gaudens medal for his work. Two of his early works made their way into the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Jack's art graced more than 40 museums and galleries around the world, including the Tate in London and the Corcoran in Washington.
If a fan recognized him, he gave a friendly smile. If children wanted to show him something, he took a genuine interest in what they had. When the small town of Hilo needed a grand marshal for its Kamehameha Day parade, he flew over and led the parade with great enthusiasm. When he learned that disadvantaged youth needed his help, he supported sports teams and schools for them. And that's just the beginning!
In his business dealings, Jack could be both demanding and shrewd. He protected his star image. He insisted that cast and crew give their best to the project at hand. He worked tirelessly to help the governor and the tourism board promote the Hawaiian Islands. So much the leader was he that he was asked by both the Republican and Democratic parties to run for governor of Hawai'i (he declined). He invested and managed his money wisely, then left it all in trust for the benefit of the people of Hawai'i.

Throughout his life, Jack remained shy -- "a very private person," his wife called him in an interview with the television news program, Inside Edition. Indeed, when the day's work was done, Jack preferred to go home to his wife, rather than live the social high life. When the week's work was done, he preferred to stay at home and paint to the point that his wife had to stay after him to be ready on time if they were going out.

As Jack grew older, he was content to walk along his beloved Kahala Beach with his lauhala hat pulled low and a walking cane in hand. He was equally content to sit in his living room and hold the kitten that he and his wife had acquired and given the unassuming name of "Kitty Boy."  And, when he passed away, he forewent a large funeral with an endless procession in favor of a simple scattering of his ashes at sea attended by only those closest to him.

Jack?s death hit many people very hard. Even people who did not know him off screen have reported mourning his passing deeply and for long periods of time. Because Jack chose to be cremated and to have his ashes scattered at sea, those left behind felt a need to have a place to go to pay their respects. Accordingly, a group spearheaded by Douglas Mossman and Esperanza Isaacs raised the money  and hired sculptor Lynn Weiler Liverton to create a bronze bust in Jack's memory. It was dedicated on June 19, 2004, and receives daily visitors in its location at Kahala Mall.

There was much more to Jack Lord than even the sum of the characters he portrayed. There was a human being who loved humankind and did everything he could to benefit it. Indeed, Jack and Marie Lord continue to do good for humankind through their trust fund. It is my hope that this website will help to show the kind of man John Joseph Patrick Ryan really was.

What a wonderful life!


I remember John Ryan quite well... He was capable, reliable and the essence of courtesy. In fact, I organized the Key of Courtesy Club and made him the president.

Peter Troyano (football coach, John Adams High School, Queens, New York) in Holton, Brett. "You Never Read a Story About Jack Lord That Told You This" in TV Radio Mirror. December 1970. Vol. 71, No. 1, pp. 85-86.


Remembering Jack Lord is an editorial perspective of the life and work of actor, artist, merchant mariner, humanitarian, and philanthropist Jack Lord. It was created by Virginia Tolles with contributions from several members of the website. If you have questions, comments, or corrections, please contact the webmaster at memoriesofhawaiifive0(at)

Photo Credits:  The banner photograph was taken by the webmaster.  The profile photograph was taken by and is used courtesy of Dave Watson.

Our Members


Heroes live as long as people respect them.

(Quotation spoken by Steve McGarrett in "Shake Hands With the Man on the Moon," Hawaii Five-0 (Season 10). CBS/Paramount, 1978.)


Follow the voyage of Hokulea in Aloha Hawai'i.


Follow the activities taking place in Jack's hometown, Richmond Hill, New York: Jack's Biography/At Home in Richmond Hill/Goings on in Richmond Hill.

I think, when Jack passed, everyone said the same thing, that he made us better as actors and as people, because he taught us that this is a profession, you have to take it seriously, and it's a lot of hard work.  Dennis Chun. Emme's Island Moments: Hawaii Five-0 Revisited, KGMB-TV,  2012.

Many of the scenes for the original were shot in and around the area of my parents'  home near Diamond Head. One day (circa 1970) my mother was returning from Times Market with, among other things, ice cream. Tutu could not get to the house because the streets were blocked off for shooting. She was huhu - and told the security folks about her melting ice cream. About two hours later, Jack Lord himself appeared at her front door, bearing a large quantity of ice cream. Talk about 'aloha spirit'.  Comment left by Kama‘ainainTX in “‘Hawaii Five-0’ Redux Receives Green Light From Network” in Honolulu Advertiser. May18, 2010.

He has humor..., so that he can laugh about the time he completely forgot his lines during a Broadway performance of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and about the sad fact McGarrett seldom finds love in a "Five-0" episode. Anderson, Nancy. "'Real' Jack Lord Soft on Children" in Reading (PA) Eagle. September 22, 1975, p. 15.

There are so many Jack Lords, it may be impossible to know them all. But it's worth the challenge to try. He's a puzzle to solve; a rare blend of talent to enjoy; and, best of all, he's a warm and giving human being to cherish. Nancy Anderson in "Jack Lord's Incredible Story: Together We Beat the World." Photoplay. January 1976, p. 21.