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TV Radio Show (September 1971)

"James and Melody MacArthur - Their First Year of Marriage: How They Faced the Problems of a Second Wife"

By Michele Patterson

Wind kissed the edges of the shell mobile hanging outside the door of the small grocery store and the soft ringing of paper-thin shell against paper thin shell became part of the atmosphere.

Melody MacArthur stopped for an instant as she carried her bundles from the store. She listened to the familiar sound that she’d heard over and over since she had some to Hawaii and thought to herself how quiet the evenings were here in this land so far away from the hustle and the bustle of Hollywood.

Serenity seemed to be all around. Sometimes it seemed almost too much after the active life she’d led until her marriage to Jim MacArthur. She had been the pert blonde actress on the series, F-Troop, and she’d found that the combination of hard work and a mad whirlwind social life kept her at a constant run. She was a happy-go-lucky girl who seemed to thrive at that pace. Now she was at the other extreme.

When she first met Jim MacArthur, he too was just a part of the kaleidoscope -- fun, attractive and part of Hollywood. She never dreamed when they shared their first date that she would one day be the mistress of the two MacArthur households -- one in California and one in Hawaii.

The two-year courtship that led to Jim’s and Melody’s marriage quickly blotted out the superficial pizazz of the actress’s former social life. Her burning love for Jim and the deep desire to be a part of his life made the idea of marriage seem so natural.

But life as Mrs. James MacArthur was much different after the ceremony was over than Melody had anticipated. As many young brides will tell you, adjusting to day to day living is no easy task, and the assumption that “love conquers all” doesn’t always work.

Melody Patterson had one goal in life before she met Jim MacArthur -- to be a star. She was caught up in the joys of celebritydom and loved it. She willingly tossed it away to become Mrs. James MacArthur, but after the scent of the bridal bouquets drifted away, after the excitement of the honeymoon became only a warm memory, the task of rearing a once busy professional life confronted Melody.

Melody had quite a lot to contend with being James MacArthur’s second wife. After all, Jim and his first wife, actress Joyce Bulifant, had been childhood sweethearts. They had shared many things that Melody could never hope to understand having entered Jim’s life when he was a mature man. Also there is a ten year difference <sic> in Jim’s and Melody’s ages. This problem, though minor, didn’t exist for Joyce. Finally, Joyce ran an art gallery with a friend in addition to her acting career commitments and raising two children. In Hawaii, Melody doesn’t have an opportunity to do any of these things. So she has to rely on her deep relationship with James for all her intellectual, social, and daily pursuits. As difficult as that can sometimes be for two people, the MacArthurs have managed to be successful.

Jim had told friends that the competition between him and his former wife during their marriage had convinced him there would be no competition in this marriage. He was the breadwinner and Melody, the mistress of the household.

But being a reasonable and understanding man, Jim explained that he saw no reason why Melody should not act when something was available to her. He asked only that there be no long separations.

During the first season Melody spent as Mrs. MacArthur in Hawaii, while Hawaii Five-O was in production, she discovered how quiet paradise can be. Once the sightseeing is done, once the house is clean and the grocery shopping completed for the week, there is little else to do -- especially alone.

A pretty blonde can sit in the sun by herself for a while, but the searing solar rays and the boredom of having no one to talk to can soon dampen one’s enthusiasm for sunbathing.

So Melody took the dilemma to Jim. It wasn’t that she was complaining or unhappy. It was just that the adjustment to this quiet new way of life wasn’t as simple as the romantics would like to picture it.

Even Jim agrees that a full-time life in Hawaii for two active young people like himself and Melody would be tough. Both enjoy sports and enjoy the dynamics of the television industry as they knew it before settling in Hawaii for the series.

“Actually, the way it works out, seven months in the Islands and five away from them is perfect,” says Jim.

The couple returned to their gracious hilltop home surrounded by trees and grassy slopes in January this year and eagerly took advantage of the social and recreational opportunities of the Hollywood metropolis not far away. They traveled to New York, they visited the country’s famed ski areas. They drank with gusto from the goblet of cosmopolitan living during the winter months.

“But now,” Jim offered, stretched out against the couch in his quaint California home, “we’re really ready to go back to Hawaii.

This year Melody will take up modeling over there and I think she’ll be going to some classes at the University of Hawaii. Spending the hours by herself just isn’t for a girl like Melody. She needs more than that to keep her busy. And, unfortunately, there isn’t much she can do in the way of acting in the Islands.”

Melody and Jim had come to terms with the problem of the long days and they had resolved the dilemma. With that now a problem of the past, both eagerly looked forward to their return to their modern condominium in Honolulu.

“In thinking about it,” Jim said thoughtfully, “I have to say that Hawaii is a better place for raising kids than the city atmosphere of Los Angeles. I can’t deny that.” His son Charlie, 11, from his former marriage, is a frequent visitor to the MacArthur home in Hawaii.

“He loves it there,” beams Jim, pride and nostalgia in his eyes. “On the weekends or when I’m not working, we take off and go surfing and swimming. He gets so tanned and looks so healthy by summer’s end I hardly recognize him.”

As for Jim himself, Hawaii has been nothing but great for him.

Besides fostering the concept of the top rated series that carries Jim as a co-star, the Islands have proven themselves commercially fruitful in other ways. Jim has invested in a handful of varies enterprises in Honolulu and adjoining islands, and claims that business is great!

An outdoorsman through and through, Jim thrives on his frequent visits to the beach, the scuba diving trips, and his constant tennis matches. “You run out of the door in the morning, the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful world,” he says.

Melody would agree wholeheartedly. They are working together to build the kind of life that’s good for them as a unit, a family. Still however, they admit that their family will remain the size it is for a while.

“We have to get our own feet firmly on the ground before putting any more on it,” smiles Jim. “At least a couple of years before start having children -- at least.”

Lucky? Indeed they are. Jim and Melody will both tell you they have a groovy life they wouldn’t trade for anything. Thanks to a mature outlook and a burning desire to keep the family unit solid, they have faced the problems of adjustment openly, preventing those problems from casting dark shadows on their life together.

Serenity. Hawaii is graced with it and in the case of the MacArthurs, they have turned it into a tonic.

Charlie MacArthur, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Melody Patterson

Mary MacArthur, James MacArthur

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