By Wayne Harada
Glen A. Larson, an iconic show biz figure whose love for Hawaii was overshadowed by his grand success in producing hit TV series, died Thursday of esophageal cancer at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. He was 77. I remember him from the era when he was a member of the Four Preps, a harmonic pop music ensemble of “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” and “Down by the Station” fame, when the group appeared at the then-named Honolulu International Center Arena, now the Blaisdell Center Arena, in the late 1950s. Larson quickly became enamored of Hawaii and his producing credits included CBS’ hit series, “Magnum P.I.,” which he created with Donald Bellisario, with whom he had partnered in launching “Battlestar Galactica.” “Magnum” — following the success of the Jack Lord original “Hawaii Five-0” — gave Hawaii a major boost when Larson, who did the script, sought Tom Selleck to portray the titular Ferrari-driving mustachioed and aloha shirt-wearing crimefighter in the filmed-in-Hawaii CBS series that ran for 162 episodes from 1980 to 1988.
“He had beach homes in Portlock and near Waimanalo and he loved the Kahala (Hilton),” said entrepreneur Tom Moffatt, who had secured the Four Preps early on for a live concert. That initial gig became a life-long friendship between Moffatt and Larson.
Moffatt flew to California a few days ago before Larson passed on.
Audy Kimura, the prolific island singer, guitarist, and composer, performed at Larson’s wedding celebration in Hawaii in 2009. He said they became fast friends and “he used to come, directly from his light with suitcases, to see me at Hy’s,” said Kimura. “Just before his death, he had called and asked if I could perform ‘Lovers & Friends’ on the phone, for the last time.” Larson had a hand in number of hit dramas all over the TV dial, in a wildly challenging range of genres, including the CSI-style “Quincy, M.E.,” the sci-fi fave “Battleship Gallactica,” the crime drama “It Takes a Thief,” the tongue-in-cheek “Knight Rider,” the adventurous “Fall Guy” about a bounty hunter, the caper about “The Six Million Dollar Man,” two diverse westerns, “B.J. and the Bear” and “Alias Smith and Jones,” and more. Survivors include his wife Jeannie, brother Kenneth, and nine children from former wives Carol Gourley and Janet Curtis. A son, James, said a memorial service is pending. Photo credit: REX USA