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Thread: Did Kam Fong want out of the show?

  1. #1
    I can’t remember if this was ever discussed but did Kam want to leave the show by the end of season 10?

    I know James MacArthur got tired of it and left. But was Chin killed off because Kam didn’t want to do it anymore?

  2. #2
    Five-O Home Page Author Mr. Mike's Avatar
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    This was discussed (sort of) in a thread here last month:

    But it doesn't give a specific reason why Kam Fong wanted to leave.

    If you do a Google search with the question "Why did Kam Fong leave Hawaii Five-O," the first reference is to my own pages and the report of the Mahalo Con in 1996, but it is not specific about this.

    Kam's Honolulu Advertiser obituary at says, "He decided to leave Five-O because the scripts had grown 'static' and followed a predictable pattern, he said in a 1977 interview." But I don't know where this interview was originally. Maybe someone can find it with

    His New York Times obit said, "In an interview Mr. Chun said he left ''Hawaii Five-0'' because he felt the scripts were becoming stale." This obit (November 1, 2002) seems to be referring to the Star-Advertiser (Kam died on October 18.) Again, I can't easily find any reference to this interview.

    On IMDb, there is a review of this show by "Only Fair" from 20 September 2019 which reads, "[B]y this season, things were getting stale. The scripts were not as good, and the music was less interesting and more."

    An obit from November 1, 2002, in the Los Angeles Times said, "Chun played the part for 10 seasons before he tired of it..." This obit is at

    Another obit at says, "Chun decided to leave the show in its 10th season—because he thought it was getting too predictable—Chin Ho’s character was killed while on an undercover mission. 'It was a life that was worth it,' his last words went. 'It was a life that mattered.'"

    But the above quotes are not correct. Chin gets tricked by slimy Jimmy Rego into misidentifying where he came from in San Francisco. Rego says, "We made you," and tells Chin that they know he works for Five-O. Rego adds, "Now that ... that was a mistake." As some thugs grab Chin, he tells Rego, "It was worth it. I don't think I have much to lose."

    Those are Chin's last words, we don't see him actually getting knocked off.

  3. #3
    I found the article on where he did the interview saying the show had become 'static'. It's the November 21, 1977 Star-Bulletin. Since I have access to it through my work I was able to download it.
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  4. #4
    Five-O Home Page Author Mr. Mike's Avatar
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    Cool, thanks, that answers a lot of questions!

  5. #5
    Thanks! Because when I googled all I got was the same story we always heard about how Kam didn’t want his character to be killed off but rather to retire gracefully. I didn’t see anything about why (or if) he wanted to quit the show.

    Also does anyone know anything about Kam wanting out of the show as early as season 5 or 6? Some reviewer on IMDB reviewing “Mother’s Deadly Helper” wrote that the episode showed why the series was going downhill fast and why Kam wanted out of the show. I think that’s a bunch of hogwash! Seasons 5 and 6 were the show at its peak and certainly “Mother’s Helper” was in no way an indicator of the show’s decline in quality. It’s an excellent episode! I think the reviewer is full of it!

  6. #6
    There is another article in there that says he wanted Chin to retire rather than be killed off but that the decision was made for him. I'll have to relocate that one since it was a smaller piece.

    Here's another extensive interview he gave in February 1978 to the Pacific Daily News, which is the newspaper based in Guam.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  7. #7
    A bit surprised to read Kam Fong revealing that Lord was difficult to work with and temperamental. I would have thought he would keep that to himself and not reveal it to the press. But I guess he was done with the show and didn’t care. He wouldn’t be seeing Jack again.

  8. #8
    Ring fire, who knows what anyone was thinking. When I read that part in the article, I took it as he was answering honestly - not a specific slam toward Jack. He was known as a perfectionist and I'm sure he was more so because he had a financial stake in the show.

    I think it also goes back to when these men were born and raised. It was a different time in the 1920s and '30s dealing with the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression during those times.

    I know my dad could be really blunt at times (more so than he should have, in my opinion) but it had to do with being raised during the Depression and his service n the Army. He didn't have time to beat around the bush. I think the guys from Five-O, particularly Jack Lord, were the same way. That's what I chalk up to anyway.

  9. #9
    Five-O Home Page Author Mr. Mike's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ringfire211 View Post
    Some reviewer on IMDB reviewing “Mother’s Deadly Helper” wrote that the episode showed why the series was going downhill fast and why Kam wanted out of the show. I think that’s a bunch of hogwash! Seasons 5 and 6 were the show at its peak and certainly “Mother’s Helper” was in no way an indicator of the show’s decline in quality. It’s an excellent episode! I think the reviewer is full of it!
    There are various blunders of this nature in the IMDb reviews, plot synopses, etc., etc. Some of these are pretty off base. However, I shouldn't point this out, because when I was doing my re-viewing of episodes for the last few years, I found several mistakes of this nature in my own reviews, some of which had been there for 20 years or more, and no one had ever caught them!

  10. #10
    I noticed the quality of the HFO episodes dropping off in Season 10. I thought Season 9 was very solid. Some of my personal FAVS: Assault On The Palace, Nine Dragons, The Last Of The Great Paperhagers, Yes, My Deadly Daughter, etc. I think A Death In The Family is an uneven episode. Some great moments but things that I don't understand. For example, Rego kills Chin Ho but he goes to the funeral with Kini. Her best friend is Chin Ho's daughter. It's very awkward if she would stay in Hawaii as Rego knows he murdered her Father. I wish Rego had talked to himself in the script about him being anxious or nervous about this. I think Kam Fong was just being honest about Jack Lord. He was around him 10 years and many hours so he could give an honest assessment on Jack's temperament and personality. We had a good discussion on Mr. Mike's forum years back as Jack Lord continued the show after Mr. Freeman's death. He had added responsibilities and pressures to deliver quality episodes. I also liked the episodes Jack directed. Chin Ho was the perfect detective for his position as 3rd in command. He could wear out the shoe leather and was helpful he could speak and interpret Chinese investigating down in Chinatown or other places. I guess you could argue they could have wrapped it up after A Death In The Family 238 episodes. However, I enjoyed Years 11 and 12 to finish out the show. Great comments about Chin and his final episode. JC

  11. #11
    Kam got out at the right time.

    The show held form well for 9 seasons, declined somewhat in 10, a lot in 11, and big time in 12.

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by Todd View Post
    Kam got out at the right time.

    The show held form well for 9 seasons, declined somewhat in 10, a lot in 11, and big time in 12.
    I agree that the show declined big time in season 12 but I find seasons 10 and 11 to be of roughly equal quality. I don’t see a big decline between 10 and 11. I see a big decline between 9 and 10. But 10 and 11 are about the same for me. Actually 11 had the benefit of not burdening us with charity cases for the Governor’s friends and other socialites that Five-O often had to look into. Plus 11 had the excellent “Skyline Killer” which was stronger than any episode from season 10. Plus “A Distant Thunder” and “Deadly Courier” which I’m quite the fan of.

    Sure there were some turkeys (Horoscope for Murder, Small Potatoes, The Miracle Man, The Year of the Horse, The Bark and the Bite) but season 10 had those too (Descent of the Torches, Deadly Doubles, Tread the King’s Shadow, The Big Aloha, A Short Walk on the Longshore). Actually “Tread the King’s Shadow” is worse than anything in season 11 and “The Skyline Killer” is better than anything in season 10. So does that mean that 11 is actually better than 10? Hmmm...

  13. #13
    Glad you brought up Season 11. I'm a big FAN of Season 11. I enjoyed the streamlined HFO Team with Danno, Duke, and McG. They utilize Duke effectively in this season as he does some old fashioned shoe leather Detective work. Duke's work in Death Mask and The Meighan Conspiracy are two episodes that spring to mind. Also, I agree about the decline of Season 10. It's strange because Season 9 was a solid season throughout. 1 of my FAVS. Nine Dragons, Oldest Profession, Assault On The Palace, The Last Of The Great Paperhangers, Yes, My Deadly Daughter etc. As far as Season 11, I too enjoyed Deadly Courier. I thought the whole brainwashing and techniques was quite interesting. Too bad Danno consumed that tea. It dropped him pretty fast. Number One With A Bullet was also a highlight. The episodes Why Won't Linda Die? and A Very Personal Matter were fairly weak for the season. I've enjoyed The Skyline Killer with more viewings. I think my appreciation and love for Season 11 stems from remembering this season as a kid. I would have been around 5. It's also the first complete season I had on DVD. I believe my sister bought them for my birthday in May.
    As far as Season 10, East Wind, Ill Wind is definitely my FAV. I am a big fan of Madame Sandanarik and the story as it progresses. Tsunami and Up The Rebels would be up their as FAVS as well as My Friend, The Enemy. Mr. Mike is right that the accident scene and the push to nowhere could have been done better. A Death In The Family has it's flaws but it's a Classic episode. The great Detective Chin Ho Kelly is murdered by Jimmy Rego and dumped outside HFO Headquarters. Two of the worst episodes are in Season 10. When Does A War End? and A Short Walk On The Longshore. JC

  14. #14
    Tsunami is definitely my favorite from season 10. But it still can’t compete with Skyline Killer.

  15. #15
    Always good to hear from you whether here or Mr. Mike's Classic HFO Forum. I can't think of many Season 11 episodes I would place ahead of The Skyline Killer. Number One With A Bullet The 2 Part Episode definitely is my FAV of that season. I love the acting and the music. The writers did an excellent job showing how the mob syndicate influenced and infiltrated all parts of the music business. Including the different games, food and drinks, supplies and vending machines like Sonny K's would need. I also thought it was effective how Johnny Monroe was frozen out of the music big contracts because of some gambling markers. It just all rang true with me. There also was a good build up to the 2 Warring factions...You knew something was going to happen. Unfortunately, Johnny Monroe was shot and killed. I'm a big fan of Death Mask too. Cyd Sharisse is a FAV and the switch of the mask was very cleverly done. I also enjoyed how McGarrett discovered the Mask in the Lion Head Alicia Warren was creating. I might place the Danno undercover episode, A Distant Thunder, the Nazi group, ahead of The Skyline Killer. Olson is a great actor and he was effective here as the leader, Stoner. It was suspenseful when Danno was sentenced to death by Stoner. As far as The Skyline Killer, I think it would have boosted the episode if Klane the writer and The Skyline Killer started talking about his crimes, his motivations etc. They could have flashed to a segment where they meet a few times and Klane busily typing away. He's already working on the book. I have to admit it was 1 of the most incredible and supenseful scenes. The Battle McGarrett vs. The Skyline Killer on the large crane. I was right about 1 thing...When it showed Klane had a 20-something daughter, I guessed Mary Ellen would be a target of The Skyline Killer. I might give it 2 1/2 stars out of 4. On my 6 star system, it would be higher.
    On Chin Ho Kelly Season 10. I'm still shocked everytime I watch A Death In The Family. My Sister saw it first and I didn't believe her. Chin Ho getting killed...I couldn't believe it. When it returned later in the Summer, she walked in my room and I think we watched A Death In The Family downstairs on the big color TV. Think it was late 1980's or early 1990's. CBS had Classic HFO late night Saturdays and Sundays from what I remember. This was before the Internet when you can easily look up episodes or material. I don't know how I missed A Death In The Family the 1st time. I have to be dead to go to bed before midnight. Anyway, I was surprised Rego killed Chin Ho as the police could have been watching Chin. Rego gambled because HFO and HPD could have been watching. I always wondered if Chin Ho hadn't struck out at Rego...Maybe things would be different. Rego sure could be angry and emotional. He had a temper. I can't take credit but I remember a poster stated that opening Season 11...Could have been Rego's Trial. It would be an emotional and explosive courtroom. Great thread here. JC

  16. #16
    Kam was not slamming Jack, as he says that, "He does only what he thinks is right." You can interpret that more than one way. "He does only what he thinks is right," meaning he doesn't take into regard what other people wanted, or it could be taken literally, that Jack did what he believed was right for the show.

    There is no evidence that Kam ever complained about his role or said that he wanted Chin Ho Kelly's character to be different in any way and was ignored. There is also no evidence that Jack controlled the scripts as people claimed. No script writer or director ever came forward to confirm that. Scripts from H5O that have turned up don't indicate that changed anything around to give himself more lines, and if we watch the show, we see that guest stars got more sceentime than he, in some episodes. Kam was a grown man and could have left when he wanted to. He got paid well and if Jack's behavior was so bad that it was unbearable, he could have quit sooner. What I read was that he wanted to retire. He was 60 years old in 1978. That, coupled with the scripts becoming stale, would have cemented his reason for leaving. Harry Endo's daughter, Leslie, used to be on my Facebook friend's list. She died in 2016. She told me that Kam felt he should have been doing Shakespeare. I think that is extreme. Kam didn't look like he had the ability to pull that off.

    I knew Al Harrington and his wife, Rosa. Al told me that he never saw any arguing or any discord between Jack and the other actors, and the crew made enough money to send their kids to private schools and pay their mortgages. They had nothing to complain about. I also spoke to Dennis Chun, Kam's son, and he spoke glowingly about Jack and that his dad thought highly of him. Maybe Kam's attitiude changed as he got older. I know he was singing a different tune in the '80s, when they were going to do a H5O reunion movie. I have a clip from a Hawaiian TV news show where Jack said he approached Kam in Long's drugstore, and told him they were bringing him back to life for the movie. "Kam, you're to make a miraculous resurrection," Jack said. Kam was astounded.

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