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TV Radio Talk (November 1970)

"Jim and Melody: Their Hawaiian Dream Wedding"

"Ho'omaika'i Kimo a me Melokia"

by Helen Weller

In a breathtakingly beautiful Polynesian ceremony, inside a picturesque cave on the island of Kauai, on the Sunday of July 12th, James MacArthur married pretty, blonde actress Melody Patterson.

The dream wedding was first thought of a year ago when Melody, visiting Jimmy on the Islands where he works as one of the stars of Hawaii Five-O toured the beautiful, lush spot of Fern Grotto on Kauai, and was enthralled with its jungle-like scenery. Turning to Jimmy, she said impulsively, “When I marry I’d like to be married right here.”

She had no idea then that she and Jimmy would some day really be married there in a dramatic Polynesian ceremony performed by a Polynesian minister. Indeed, at that time Melody didn’t know whether she and Jimmy would be married at all! Although they’d been going together for a long time and were in love, Jimmy was a little reluctant to give up his bachelor freedom. He’d been married before, to actress Joyce Bulifant, and had two children. Melody, 21, was starry-eyed at the idea of marriage.

When Melody left Jim in Honolulu after her visit last year, they had an agreement that they would begin to date others. Surprisingly, Jimmy found that he couldn’t stick by this agreement. When he’d take other girls out in Honolulu, he found himself thinking of Melody and wishing she were with him. He’d call her almost every morning before he left for the set. One morning, when her line was busy and he couldn’t get through to her, he phoned his good friend and publicist, Ed Shaw, in Los Angeles, and told him, “Please call Melody for me and tell her I love her.”

This past summer, Melody, armed with a round-trip ticket Jimmy had sent her, flew to Honolulu for another visit. She never got to use the return half of her ticket! When Jimmy saw her again in Honolulu, his heart went spinning and on her first night there he blurted out a marriage proposal and she remained to become his bride.

When they discussed wedding plans, Melody’s eyes glowed. “That heavenly spot -- that little paradise,” she sighed. “Do you remember, darling -- Fern Grotto -- it’s the most beautiful spot in the world. Let’s get married there.”

Jim left the arrangements to Melody. Here was one girl who was going to have the wedding of her dreams.

Ordinarily it takes time to plan this kind of wedding, but they had only two weeks to prepare for it. Helen Hayes, Jim’s mother, had to leave for London to do a play and they wanted her at their wedding.

The sun was bright and clear on the day of the wedding; an early morning rain had suddenly stopped, leaving a bright blue sky and billowing clouds. “A good sign for a happy marriage,” one of the natives had said and it was in this spirit that the wedding began. The wedding party of about 40 guests, which included not only Helen Hayes, but Melody’s parents, Jack Lord and his wife and Jim’s son, 9-year-old Charles, had flown to Kauai for the event. They stepped into a flower-bedecked barge, completely covered with orchids, camellias, carnations, exotic white flowers and rich green foliage, which was to carry them up the narrow little river to Fern Grotto. Another flower decked barge carried Melody, all in white with a wreath of deep green leaves on her head, Polynesian style, with her mother and her little flower girl, Mary, Jimmy’s blonde, 5-year-old daughter. It was a thrilling sight to see the two flat barges, one behind the other, like two floating little islands of flowers. In the lead boat, which carried Jimmy and the guests, a huge wreath of deep red flowers with the initials “J” and “M” lay against a bed of white orchids. Polynesian musicians, playing ukuleles, sang native love songs.

As the boat docked at the foot of the mountain, Jim and the guests stepped out and began the stately walk up the mountain to the cave where the ceremony was to take place. Moments later, Melody’s barge pulled in and she and little Mary began the walk behind the others so that, as tradition decreed, the groom would not see his bridge until she met him at the altar.

It was almost dusk when they reached the cave on the mountain incline. Lighted torches lined the pathway, masses of lush, tropical foliage fanned out on either side, tropical birds screeched and clung to the low-hanging branches and a sheer waterfall spun over the cave. The guests caught their breaths at this incredible sight.

Inside, the Rev. Tuck Wah Lee was waiting. The cave was lit up with candles, a tiny stream rushed by outside and the sound of the waterfall beating against the roof of the cave created a highly romantic mood. The choral group arranged themselves outside and softly sang native love chants. In the midst of the ceremony, the minister sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and the guests, deeply moved, joined in. Halfway through the hymn, a rainbow formed on the waterfall, lighting the dusky cave with a spiritual glow. Melody was so overcome by this awesome scene of nature that tears formed in her eyes and her voice was choked with emotion as she said, “I do.”

It was a gay wedding party that climbed into the lead barge again, floating back to Kauai for the reception at the Cocoa Palms Hotel. The same musicians and singers, who seemed now a part of the wedding party, played, and Jack Lord proposed the first toast to the bride and groom. In his toast he told how, as a poor boy in New York, he’d once seen a poster for Hawaii and dreamed some day of going there. “And here I am,” he said, “in my favorite place, wishing a lifetime of happiness to two of my favorite people.”

After the bride and groom danced the first dance, Melody remained on the floor and did a small, graceful hula, to the delight of her new husband and the guests.

The newlyweds remained in Kauai for two days, which was all the time Jim had off from the show. The rest of the party returned to Honolulu and from there to their homes on the mainland. Jim’s children were brought to their mother who was in Honolulu at the time. Curiously, Joyce had arrived in Honolulu that very morning for a vacation, unaware that her ex-husband was to be married that day. Because her arrival coincided with the wedding, it was gossiped around that she’d come to attend the wedding, but that was not the case.

Jim and Melody are living in Honolulu in the modern condominium apartment of Jim’s, which overlooks the ocean. They’re blissfully happy. As Melody says, stars in her eyes, “Our marriage began with the dreamiest wedding any man and woman could have. With that for a starter, how can our marriage be anything but -- dreamy.”

James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

Charles MacArthur, James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

James MacArthur, Helen Hayes

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