James MacArthur Official Website: Welcome To My Digital Scrapbook!
James MacArthur Official Website Other Goodies Articles, Photos & Video Email Credits, Biography & Info News and Updates James MacArthur Official Website Logo

Bon Appetit (April 1978)

"A Bachelor Barbeque Hawaiian Style"

By Cobey Black

After a decade of detective work, one of the unsolved mysteries of Hawaii Five-O is what Danny Williams does in his spare time. Could McGarrett’s boyish sidekick also be Hawaii’s most eligible bachelor?

Does he entertain a deux?

At his place or hers?

Or even, with Waikiki’s sun and surf beckoning, call in to the office and say “Sorry, Steve, I’m taking the day off,” then pack a picnic basket and head for the beach?

A little sleuthing has turned up a confession of guilty, on all counts. Tracked to his condominium hideaway in the heart of Honolulu, James MacArthur has agreed to tell all: Twice married, currently single and very much a man-about-town.

“I’d rather cook dinner at my place. Maybe a lanai picnic. I really do enjoy having a girlfriend over to share the cooking. The fun of entertaining is doing it together from shopping to dishes,” says Jim.

“As it happens, I love to cook. Especially fancy things. If you’re going to go to all the trouble of preparing a meal, why settle for a mundane meal? A favorite of mine is Oysters Rockafeller with shrimp kebabs.”

Bright blue-eyed, freckled and sandy-haired, Jim has the insouciant grin of the kid who gouged the icing and licked his finger. But he’s serious when it comes to a fine Caesar salad.

“Most people settle for an ersatz version,” he says. “If I get a poor Caesar salad in a restaurant, I send it back.

“The secret is using the best ingredients of olive oil, young romaine lettuce, dry mustard, anchovies and cheese. The last must be freshly grated. I have a food processor that grates cheese in a split second, and often I’ll substitute Romano for Parmesan because it has more bite. The lettuce must be dry and crisp and the egg coddled for exactly one minute.”

Jim is quick to add that cooking, unlike acting, was not something he learned at his mother’s knee. His parents, playwright Charles MacArthur and actress Helen Hayes, had a staff that always included an excellent cook. “Like any kid, I was in and out of the kitchen all the time, opening the refrigerator door. But Mom was working at the theater every night, not over a hot stove. She took up cooking just very recently.

“I remember one Thanksgiving, when I was about ten years old, she told Pop and me that it was time she roasted the turkey herself. Her audience of two applauded, but she made Pop promise that if she produced a scorched bird, he’d take us all to dinner.

“Just before the great moment, Pop hustled me out to the hall closet and we both bundled up in overcoats, caps, galoshes and gloves. When Mom walked in with the turkey, we were prepared for the worst.

“The turkey was delicious, and we promptly took off our mufflers and tucked in our napkins.”

Jim also recalls the victory garden planted in a corner of the family estate in Nyack, New York, during the last years of World War II, when he was a small boy. He credits the garden for his lifelong appreciation of such green vegetables as Swiss chard and Bibb lettuce.

“Not to mention vine-ripened tomatoes. Maybe that’s why I’m such a salad buff. Also I like things I can throw together. I’m a picker, not a stuffer. I like a full refrigerator so I can grab an assortment of snacks. As a bachelor, I’ll roast a leg of lamb on Sunday and by Friday wind up with a curry. A turkey also lasts a week or until I’m turkeyed-out. Then I toss the carcass in the pot, stuffing and all, with a couple of Maui onions and make the kind of soup that’s perfect for a rainy day. I’ve even taught Mom to make saimin, the wonderful oriental noodle soup.

“I’ve been around good food all my life but was never interested in it until I married my first wife, Joyce. She’s a great cook and still a good friend. When we split I let her go, but I couldn’t give up the cooking. During our marriage, my thing was breakfast and I still put out superb Eggs Benedict. My second wife, Melody, taught me to make souffles, another favorite.

“I sound like the author of Bluebeard’s Cookbook,” grins Jim.

Living alone now, with most of his time spent on the set, Jim has to watch his own waistline. “One way I keep trim is to drop by a market near the waterfront and buy a pound of fresh ahi, the best raw fish for sashimi. With daikon or shredded Japanese radish, and a dash of ‘pepper water,’ made at the market with hot chili peppers, it’s a delicious way to diet.

“Another night, I’ll take out a tin of sardines, slice a Maui onion and put them on rye rounds. I also like cheeses, especially soft and strong, like a ripe Camembert. This is when I’m dining alone, you understand.”

And when he’s not, what sort of dinner would Jim serve at his place?

“What I have in the refrigerator right now: A jar of beluga caviar, one of several I gave myself for my birthday, a bottle of Dom Perignon, salad, and extra thick New York steak cut to order, and fresh Island fruit with a Brie.

“But I frankly think there are better ways to impress a girl than with my cooking. She’d probably be more impressed with how fast I could do the dishes. As I said, the romantic part is doing it together. Even if it’s just over a hibachi. The joy of cooking is sharing it.

“I’m a walking disposal. There’s nothing I won’t eat, short of a balut. [An about-to-hatch goose egg considered an aphrodisiac in the Philippines.] So for me, the setting is as important as the food. Which no doubt accounts for my love of picnics,” says the actor who’s never at a loss for a partner.

“I just went on a great picnic,” he continues. “Two couples. My date was my Mom, who’d flown in from the Mainland for my birthday. ‘Since this is a special day, what would you like to do?’ I asked her. ‘Play golf,’ she said. ‘But you’ve never held a club in your life,’ I told her. ‘It’s not even your favorite sport.’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘but it’s yours. And we’re supposed to be celebrating your birthday.’

“So we packed a hamper with a cold platter of jumbo shrimps, sashimi and marinated artichoke hearts, plus a bottle of chilled Barard-Montrachet, and had a picnic on every other hole. The other golfers thought we were crazy.

“My best gift, however, was sinking a 30-foot putt on the 18th hole. Somebody Up There helped us celebrate,” says Jim, who, besides golf, enjoys ski trips with his two children. “I’d also like to drive through South America. Four years ago, a friend and I drove across the Sahara Desert. Our diet on that trip was confined to canned spaghetti and camel meatballs. After 4,500 miles of sand dunes, we pulled into Nairobi and the first thing we saw was a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Believe me, it was finger-lickin’ good.”

Hardworking, with only Sundays off, Jim’s on the Five-O set by 6:30 each morning and his major meal of the day is prepared by the studio chef. “He’s great with spareribs, roast beef and mahimahi. Living in the tropics, one full meal a day is enough, and gives me leeway to enjoy a snack for supper.”

Now let’s put aside all restrictions like calorie counts and logistics to elicit James MacArthur’s idea of the three best menus for a single day. Jim’s blue eyes warm to the possibilities.

“For breakfast: Lox and bagels, with cream cheese and onion, scrambled eggs and freshly ground coffee from Hawaii’s Kona coast. I’d also like a Bloody Mary.

“Lunch: A Caesar salad, of course. With a Pimm’s Cup in a pewter mug. A lovely drink on a hot day.

“And dinner? Well, if push comes to shove, I’d take ribs, though I have about twenty-five alternate favorites, including Maine lobster, steak tartare, shrimp boiled in beer ...”

Jim’s Barbecued Ribs
5 servings
5 pounds of beef ribs for barbecuing
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup red wine
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chopped green onion (including stems)
1/2 cup chopped Maui or Bermuda onion
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (optional)
Pepper to taste
Cut halfway through meat on flat side of bone. On both sides of bone, make cuts at about 3/4-inch intervals almost to the bone. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour over meat, cover and refrigerate overnight (or longer).
Heat barbecue. Place ribs 5 to 6 inches away from coals (low heat on gas barbecue). Turning and basting frequently, cook ribs until well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes.
This marinade may also be used with chicken or fish.

Barbecued Shrimp
5 to 6 servings
1 cup bottled Italian dressing
1/2 cup chili sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pepper to taste
1-1/2 pounds of medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and well dried
1 onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large green pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 fresh pineapple, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 box cherry tomatoes
In 2-quart bowl, mix dressing, chili sauce, lemon juice and pepper. Add shrimp and stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Drop onion and green pepper into boiling water for about 1/2 minute. Drain and dry thoroughly.
Alternate shrimp, onion, green pepper, pineapple and tomatoes on skewers. Brush with marinade. Place on barbecue and cook one side. Turn and cook second side until shrimp is pink and tender, about 10 to 15 minutes total.

Photographs by Larry Dale Gordon for Bon Appetit Magazine.

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

>>Back to Top<<

{Home} {Current News} {Latest Site Updates} {Film Credits} {Television Credits} {Stage Credits}
{Other Credits} {Combined Credits} {Biography} {FAQ} {Charles MacArthur Salute}
{Email James MacArthur} {Photo Index} {Articles & Interviews} {Non-English Articles}
{Video Clips} {Contact Site Administrator} {Site Help} {Search Site} {Interactive Games}
{View/Sign Guestmap} {Join Mailing List} {Join Discussion Group} {Send an E-Card} {Free Screensavers}
{Site Visitor Statistics} {Site Awards} {Site Accreditations & Affiliations} {Links} {Privacy} {Copyright}
Site Layout and All Original Site Content © 2001-11 curator@jamesmacarthur.com. All rights reserved.

Site best viewed at 800x600 or higher screen resolution.