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Photoplay (August 1969)

"James MacArthur Discusses: Bringing Up Children In Hard Reality"

By Fredda Dudley Balling

Divorced from actress Joyce Bulifant two years ago, James MacArthur, star of the TV series Hawaii Five-O, is the father of two youngsters, eight-year old Charles, and Mary, three. As a parent, MacArthur says caution is his primary concern. “I’m the nervous type in respect to children. When I’m in full charge, I keep an eye on them every instant. When I’m away from them, I make certain that the person in charge provides close supervision.” This attitude applies to the minor emergencies of childhood, such as playing ball in a place where a car might zoom around the corner, or climbing telephone poles for kicks.

In larger matters, Jim believes, “Youngsters who are over-protected are simply not prepared to face the rough deal that is life on this planet.”

Thus, Jim has been taking his little boy, Charlie, to sporting events since he was very little. Beyond the crash of physical sports, Charlie’s been exposed to a wide variety of experience.

In London, when the boy was five, Jim took him to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. They passed along tableaus of royalty, and some pretty harrowing sights in the sub-floor of the museum. Bluebeard and Jack The Ripper were just a few of the criminals shown receiving punishment for their crimes.

Jim had warned his son, “I don’t think you want to see the basement displays. They’re not nice.”

“Why not?” Charlie wanted to know. “I know it’s make-believe but it really happened once. It won’t make me sick.”

It didn’t. In fact, he was even ready for a strawberry sundae the moment he emerged.

When Jim moved on to Spain, he wanted to see a bullfight. Friends told him, “Don’t take Charlie.” But Jim felt that the spectacle could not be adequately explained to a child; he’d have to see it. In any case, Jim felt that Charlie would be impressed by the pageantry, and he was right.

There sat his son in the midst of thirty thousand Spaniards, cheering themselves hoarse. When the torrero marched into the ring Charlie said, “Could I have a suit like his?” The next day, his dad bought him one. As for the bullfight itself, Charlie loved it.

Charlie’s reactions have reinforced Jim’s belief that the wider a child’s exposure to experience, the more easily will he adapt himself. James says, “Not every child can travel as much as he has, but there are plenty of opportunities right here. And parents better get started because soon the kids are going to ask about the moon.”

James MacArthur, Charlie MacArthur, Joyce Bulifant

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