Somewhere between the time television lawmen traded in staccato
one-liners for flashing their ass cracks on camera, there was
a Golden Age of TV Cop.
These were the days when driving around in a gas-guzzling
land monster running
down filthy hippies while wearing sports jackets that would
blind Herb Tarlek was the coolest thing any self-respecting
flatfoot could do.
It was an era where marijuana was so potent that it would
cause hapless teens to plummet from their high school's
third-story science class window after just one whiff of second-hand
smoke. Where rock and roll music was as deadly as cyanide
and the Red Chinese henchmen of Wo Fat were conspiring inside
every random tiki hut. Meanwhile lounge singers supplemented
their income by doubling as hotel-scaling cat burglars.
was Steve McGarrett's America, a distillation of everything
true and righteous, at least in the narcotic-assisted, karate-chopping,
law enforcement-obsessed fantasy world of Hawaii Five-O's
#1 fan, Elvis Presley.
Anyone remember the mid-'70s? The nation was in serious hangover
mode, punch drunk from the multiple mallet blows of Nixon,
Vietnam, Charlie Manson and the Sonny and Cher show.
A guy named Gerald R. Ford was the President of the United
States. Like a benevolent but clumsy, absent-minded uncle,
he tried to pilot the ship of state into safer waters
away from anxieties about cult killers, inflation, Watergate,
gas shortages and the inexplicable popularity of a growing
fad called "disco."
Some found refuge in the endless parade of Bob Hope specials
cartoons on the glowing box. But alas, it was far too late
for those homespun remedies to make us whole: the open wounds
on the American psyche required more drastic remedies.
Enter Hawaii Five-0. Already a staple of late evening television
aficionados everywhere, Five-0 was the Real Deal, a cold-war
potboiler of mystery,
malice and mayhem set in the rainbow-laced sunshine of America's
50th state. Noted for its indelible, surf-inspired theme music,
its edge-of-reality '70s dialogue and its penchant for sustaining
narrative overdrive at whatever cost, the long-running Hawaii
Five-0 loomed above the Kojaks and Barettas of the Polyester
Era higher by the full measure of Jack Lord's black,
Which brings us to Chin Ho Kelly, the greatest Hawaiian-Irish
cop the world has ever seen. An affable, modest sort of
fellow with a body designed like a beer keg topped by a Christmas
ham, Chin Ho was one of the most reliable detectives on the
Five-0 squad, and Steve McGarrett's trusted ally. Contrasting
to the more brawny Zulu as Kono, Chin Ho was a good old-fashioned
Big Island family man. He was a lot like Scotty from "Star
Trek": he didn't have that many lines, but he held his
own every scene he played. His specialty? Delivering crisp
affirmations of Steve's every order. "OK, Boss. It's
Need some Japanese translation while cruising the Honolulu
the man. It's Act One explication you say you crave? Chin
Ho's got your back. "It looks like he's been dead for
a couple of days."
"What about HPD?" demands McGarrett.
"They're on it," shoots back Chin.
Whereas Dano served as Five-0's resident pitbull for squashing
Neo-Nazis or drug-pushing
university professors, Chin was more likely to weigh the situation,
consider the options, and then crash through a balsa-wood
door with his snubnose six-shooter blazing. Or wait behind
the squad car door for the SWAT team to lob in enough tear
gas to smoke out the entire South Pacific.
That's because Chin Ho Kelly was smart. He knew his strengths
and his weaknesses.
He was aware that he was too out of shape to go toe-to-toe
with Ricardo Montalban in any of his insidious incarnations
on Five-0, but he had a mind like quicksilver; underneath
that jolly, rotund exterior lurked a razor-sharp intellect,
honed by years of experience on the mean streets of the Big
That's right first the real life Kam Fong survived
100 Japanese Zeroes dropping bombs on his head at Pearl Harbor,
then the future TV star served 16 years on the real-life Honolulu
P.D. before his transfer to McGarrett duty. All the while
for his wife and eight kids back at home (you read it right
eight kids!). Truly an old school super-trooper, family
man, Man of Action and an American hero.
Kam Fong as Chin Ho Kelly like Jack Lord, Elvis and
Bruce Lee, you'll never be forgotten.