January 22, 1998
This morning, my husband woke me before going to work because he knew I'd want to hear the news: Jack Lord died last night of heart failure. He was 77 years old.
Heart failure. It's difficult to think of a man who for so much of his life was so vigorous having a heart that would just wear out. It seems in a way a betrayal of the man by his own body. It also, however, explains his having been so deeply out of the public eye in recent years. Congestive heart failure, which is what it was, is a difficult condition. It's something that such a private man as Jack Lord would want to deal with privately. And as for the rumors of Alzheimer's disease, consider this: congestive heart failure (CHF) is a progressive and very debilitating disease. What happens is that the heart weakens, losing its ability to pump blood around the body. The heart itself becomes larger, and because the circulatory system is malfunctioning, toxins and wastes cannot be as efficiently removed as in one whose circulatory system is functioning well. Consider also that the medications prescribed for this ailment are powerful and have strong side effects. Confusion, disorientation, and fatigue are all part of the problem.
I applaud the fact that he managed to keep this from the overly-nosy press.
Of all actors I've admired over the years, Jack Lord seems to have been the most steadfast. He remained faithful, adoringly so, to his wife Marie. They faced the world together, and turned their backs on it together when they wanted to. They had the courage to be, never mind what the world thought. In an interview that appeared in a local publication in Hawaii, there was mention of a file Jack kept of poems and sayings. There was one attributed to an Earl Keith: "They say. What say they? Let them say." Sounds like the governing principle of his life.
I had an opportunity to meet Marie Lord in early November of 1996, when I was in Hawaii for the Hawaii Five-O Reunion Convention. I'm glad I took that opportunity to tell her that her husband still has many fans all over the world who regard him with admiration and respect, and who would like to have the chance to say "thank you." She said she'd take my message back to him, and I am certain that she did.
In January of 1992, fellow fan Pat Walker wrote me with the following words, which I'd like to share with you now: "Jack Lord, man and actor, is facing the ragged edges of mortality. Steve McGarrett is not. Khigh Dhiegh, man and actor, died recently in a small city south of Arizona's state capital. Wo Fat, arch foe and busy villain, did not. Mort Stevens, man and composer, died in November 1991. I can hear his music right now. As long as people care, Steve McGarrett and Wo Fat will chase each other through the corridors and chambers of time, always fresh and alive. The game indeed is still afoot, and I am grateful."
So am I.
Farewell, Jack. Fair winds and following seas.
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