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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 12, 2009

'Hawaii 5-0' actor Harry Endo dies of stroke

 •  Obituaries

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

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"Hawaii 5-0" actor Harry Endo, who portrayed a cerebral medical examiner who belied a real-life, dry wit, has died of a stroke in New York at the age of 87.

Endo had made a commercial for Territorial Savings Bank when he was selected to play the character of Che Fong as one of the original cast members of "Hawaii 5-0," which ran from 1968 to 1980 making it one of the longest-running police dramas in television history.

"He was such a nice guy," remembered Doug Mossman, 75, of Mililani, who played several bit parts on the show before evolving into the character of "5-0" detective Frank Kamana midway through its television run.

"One of the things about Harry is that he was very studious looking," Mossman said yesterday. "He looked like a business guy. He worked for Territorial Savings and had that look glasses, very studious. But he was humorous and funny, a quiet kind of humor."

Endo's daughter, Leslie Baker, told The Associated Press that her father was born in Colorado but spent much of his life in Hawai'i. He served in the Army in Europe as a radio operator, the AP reported, and was married for more than 60 years.

"Hawaii 5-0" featured its star, Jack Lord, playing the role of Steve McGarrett, the head of a fictional, elite unit that reported directly to the governor. The show cemented the image of Hawai'i as a gorgeous and exotic, multiethnic destination to millions of television viewers who still remember Lord's catchphrase to his fictional second-in-command, Danny Williams: "Book 'em, Danno."

On the show, Endo portrayed "the all-encompassing forensic genius, who was supposed to know everything about everything," Mossman said. "The rest of us actors were very happy we didn't have to have his dialogue with all of those $12 words. I'd look at the script and say, 'I'm glad I'm not saying that.'

"There were times he'd be a little nervous about the line coming up and anybody else would be shaky, too. Because Jack (Lord) was a perfectionist who wanted you to get everything right, that was a double whammy pressure to get the line right not just for the line's sake but for Jack's sake."

Endo's death on Friday at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital follows the passing of Lord, Kam (Chin Ho Kelly) Fong, Richard (the governor) Denning, Herman (Duke) Wedemeyer and Gilbert (Zulu) Kauhi, among other actors on the show.

Endo is survived by his wife, Myrtle; daughter Leslie Baker of Brooklyn; and Scott Endo of San Diego, according to the AP.

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.