Al Harrington, Actor Known for Original ‘Hawaii Five-0’ Series, Dies at 85

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Al Harrington, the Samoan-American actor known for his role as Detective Ben Kokua on “Hawaii Five-0,” died Sept. 21 after suffering a stroke earlier this month. He was 85.

Harrington was one of the last living cast members from the original CBS drama that aired from 1968 to 1980. He also had a recurring role as a different character on the series reboot that bowed on CBS in 2011.

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“Al was truly a gift from God. A noble, compassionate, patient and gentle man with a witty sense of humor and a larger-than-life laugh that will echo in my heart until we are reunited,” Harrington’s wife, Rosa, said in a statement to People. “It was his greatest honor to represent his people on-screen, and to serve them off-screen. To know him was to feel seen, loved, safe and welcomed. As an Icon for Hawai’i, our islands and her people are mourning his loss.”

Harrington, born Tausau Ta’a in 1935 in America Samoa. He moved to Honolulu with his mother three years later. He studied at Menlo College and Stanford University. After graduating with a degree in history, he returned to Hawaii and taught at the University of Hawaii.

On the side, he worked as a professional entertainer and dancer in Waikiki under the moniker “The South Pacific Man.” His acting debut was on “Hawai’i Five-0,” first as several other recurring characters in the earlier seasons and then as a regular in 1972. His other television credits include “Magnum, P.I.,” “Scrubs” and “The Byrds of Paradise,” and in 2018, he was honored with the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition to his wife, survivors include sons Alema and Tau, daughters Summer and Cassi, and several grandchildren.

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