Al Harrington, Original ‘Hawaii Five-O’ Actor, Dies at 85

Harrington, who played Detective Ben Kokua on the CBS series, died Tuesday

al harrington obit
Photo: Rita Coury/Rita Coury Photography (Courtesy of Harrington family)

Original “Hawaii Five-O” actor Al Harrington died Tuesday at 85 after suffering a stroke last week, a rep confirmed to TheWrap.

Harrington joined the popular CBS police show in 1972 as Detective Ben Kokua, a role he portrayed for three seasons.

He played a different character — Mamo Kahike — in the reboot of the original series that aired from 2011-2018. Most recently, he played Uncle John on the new Disney+ series “Doogie Kamealoha MD.”

Harrington also appeared on many other popular series including “Magnum, PI,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Jeffersons” and “Scrubs.” He appeared on the big screen in feature films including “Forrest Gump” and “White Fang 2.”

Born in America Samoa, Harrington moved to Honolulu as a young child. In high school, he excelled in football and acting. He received a history degree from Stanford University in California and returned to Hawaii to teach at the University of Hawaii after graduating.

In 2018, he received the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. He is survived by his wife, Rosa Harrington, sons Alema and Tau, daughters Summer Harrington and Cassi Harrington Palmer, and several grandchildren.

“Al was truly a gift from God,” Rosa said in a statement to TheWrap. “A noble, compassionate, patient and gentle man with a witty sense of humor and a larger-than-life laugh that will echo in my heart until we are reunited. He was generous, quick to forgive, a hard worker, a provider and always ready to talk-story. He loved his community and even more, his culture. It was his greatest honor to represent his people on-screen, and to serve them off-screen. To know him was to feel seen, loved, safe and welcomed. As an Icon for Hawai’i, our islands and her people are mourning his loss.”

Gregory David Mayo, Harrington’s agent, added: ““It has been my utmost pleasure to have served as Al Harrington’s theatrical agent for many years.  More importantly, Al became a close friend and mentor to me in my own career and life.  Al uplifted me to find my faith again….and for that alone, I am truly grateful. Admiration, respect, humor, peace, and joy are those attributes that one can ascribe to Al Harrington. Truly a special child of God….”