Al Harrington (actor)
December 12, 1935 |
Pago Pago, American Samoa
Al Harrington (born Tausau Ta'a on December 12, 1935 in Pago Pago, American Samoa) is an American television actor. He is best known as his role as "Det. Ben Kokua" on the CBS television series Hawaii Five-O. He had previously appeared in five episodes of the series as other characters ("The Box," "The Late John Louisiana," "The Double Wall," "No Bottles... No Cans... No People" and "For a Million... Why Not?" - in all but "The Double Wall" he was cast as a villain).
Al Harrington was raised by his maternal grandmother in the village of Mapusaga in Pago Pago until he was three. His mother, Lela Suapaia, sent for him to join her while she was working as a nurse in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. She later married Roy Milburn Harrington a native of Iron Mountain, Michigan, who had come to Honolulu as a serviceman with the US Army. The elder Harrington later became a member of the Honolulu Police Department. However, it was not until Al Harrington's sophomore year in high school that he took his stepfather's last name.
He excelled at theater and American football at Punahou School, where he was a member of the class of 1954. He participated in several productions at the school. At the same time Al Harrington was wowing people on the football field. He led his team to the league championships at Honolulu Stadium and was the first high school football All-American to come out of Hawaii.
Al Harrington went on to play for Stanford University, where he aspired to become a drama major. Unfortunately, there was some opposition to minority drama majors there. When he graduated in 1958 with a B.A. in History, the Baltimore Colts were interested in him. However, it did not offer the kind of money American professional football teams now offer, so he returned to Honolulu. Also, in order to pay for his tuition, he would work as a Polynesian dancer. It was this interesting occupation that led to an appearance on the classic game show To Tell the Truth.
On his return to Hawaii, Harrington would eventually work as a history teacher at Punahou and professor at the University of Hawaii. He also performed for many years as an entertainer in Waikiki, earning the well-known moniker of "The South Pacific Man." His popularity in the 1970s and 1980s made him a household name in Hawaii. He had a long running dance revue show, including Tahitian fire dancing, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. And, along with other entertainers such as Don Ho, he helped define the entertainment industry in Hawaii, known to tourists and dignitaries alike from around the world.
Harrington is among a few of the supporting Hawaii Five-O (1968) cast still alive along with William Smith, Sharon Farrell, and Dennis Chun (also the son of Kam Fong, he had spot cameos). Harrington (Mamo Kahike) and Chun (Sgt. Duke Lukela) have recurring roles in the 2010 reboot.
Religion and family
Harrington is a Latter-day Saint. He had one of the lead parts in The Testaments. He also played the role of Thomas Trueblood in Light of the World, A Celebration of Life, that was put on by the LDS Church in Salt Lake City during the Olympics there in 2002.
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