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For MacArthur's widow, Honolulu full of actor's spirit

By Mike Gordon

LAST UPDATED: 5:32 p.m. HST, Feb 17, 2011

The Honolulu homecoming has been bittersweet and not without its tears, but H.B. MacArthur has found her emotions buoyed by the memories of her husband.

Everywhere she has been, she's thought of him — James MacArthur, the actor whom the world remembers as Danno from the original version of CBS television's "Hawaii Five-0."

Everywhere, she feels their love.

The couple met here nearly 28 years ago. H.B. was a golf pro at Waialae Country Club, and the actor had already retired from his role on "Five-0."

Their romance was here: kisses in the unlit Diamond Head tunnel, hands held during candle-lit dinners at the Outrigger Canoe Club, swimming together at their beachfront home, the many rounds of golf.

Even after the couple moved to the mainland, the islands held a special place in their hearts, and they never visited Hawaii without the other as company. Until now.

This first trip to Hawaii since the actor died Oct. 28 is a powerful journey, but today might not be so hard to endure.

The actor's life will be remembered during a tribute at 2 p.m. at the Hawaii Theatre. Open to the public, the event will include stories shared by friends and performances by Hawaiian entertainers. Singer and former "Five-0" regular Jimmy Borges will be the host.

It will connect the actor one final time to his Hawaii. If there was something he loved as much as his wife, it was this place. He brought his wife and family here almost every summer. Their first stop on nearly every trip was the same: Fort Ruger Market for poke or sashimi.

"His spirit was very much with the people of Hawaii," H.B. MacArthur said. "He did have a heart full of aloha."

Some of the actor's ashes were buried alongside his parents in his hometown of Nyack, N.Y. — the same family plot that will become H.B.'s final resting place as well. A second memorial was held in Palm Desert, Calif., where he and H.B. had lived for 20 years.

Yesterday, at a private service at the Outrigger Canoe Club, the remainder of his ashes were scattered in the blue waters off Waikiki.

The tribute this afternoon is for his fans. It will be a celebration of a career that spanned more than 50 years.

"It's like one of their own coming back, and I think it's lovely that the local people, his many, many friends here, will have the honor of giving him a tribute," H.B. MacArthur said. "The people of Hawaii need closure as much as his family needed closure. So much of Jim's life had been in the islands, and so much of his spirit was here."

She is looking forward to the event, to the things it will remind her of even as her heart aches.

"I think it will be a lovely tribute to Jimmy," she said. "It's hard to come back without my husband, but fortunately I have some wonderful friends here and I am going to hold on to those dear memories."

It has been a dream week at the Sundance Film Festival for Ty Sanga, the Hawaii indie filmmaker from Ewa Beach whose short film "Stones" screened five times.

Audiences cried during the film, which is told entirely in Hawaiian. Strangers recognized him on the street. And he got to brainstorm ideas with directors, producers and writers.

Sanga's film was one of 81 short films selected from more than 6,400 submissions. Although it did not win any awards, it was featured in the festival's Indigenous Shorts Showcase.

"To be honest, just to be in Sundance is the biggest award so far because I didn't expect to get in," said the 29-year-old Sanga.

The landscape was a bonus, said Sanga, who had never seen falling snow until last week.

"This was the most snow I had ever seen in my life," he said. "The whole landscape is filled with snow. Everything is white and the lakes are frozen. It's a whole new world. It's kind of exciting."

And that's a wrap.

Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser's film and television writer. His "Outtakes" column appears Sundays. E-mail him at

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