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Al Harrington Who Played Ben Kokua on 'Hawaii Five-0' Dies at 85

Junie Sihlangu
Sep 25, 2021
04:40 A.M.
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“Hawaii Five-0” star Al Harrington sadly passed away at the beginning of this week. The news of his death was sudden and unexpected, with his family confirming it to the press.

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On Tuesday afternoon, Hollywood lost another great actor in the form of Al Harrington. The star’s death happened after he suffered from a stroke last week and was hospitalized.

His family confirmed his death at the age of 85. Besides being a television actor, the talented man was also a businessman, a teacher, and a Waikiki showroom headliner.

Al Harrington as Ben Kokua on the "Hawaii Five-0" episode, "Death Wish on Tantalus Mountain." Image dated June 16, 1972 | Photo: CBS/Getty Images

Al Harrington as Ben Kokua on the "Hawaii Five-0" episode, "Death Wish on Tantalus Mountain." Image dated June 16, 1972 | Photo: CBS/Getty Images

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In a statement obtained by People, Harrington’s wife, Rosa, described her late husband as a “gift from God.” She recalled how patient, compassionate, noble, and gentle he had been.

The widow honored him by sharing how he had a larger-than-life laugh and witty sense of humor that would stay with her until they were reunited. His wife also said he loved representing his people on television.

Al Harrington and his wife, Rosa, at the Sunset on the Beach event celebrating the 50th anniversary of "Hawaii Five-0" on September 16, 2018, in Waikiki, Hawaii | Photo: Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

Al Harrington and his wife, Rosa, at the Sunset on the Beach event celebrating the 50th anniversary of "Hawaii Five-0" on September 16, 2018, in Waikiki, Hawaii | Photo: Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

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Harrington also enjoyed serving off-screen too. Rosa concluded her statement by noting how her late husband had been an icon for native Hawaii, its islands, and its people.

The actor was born Tausau Ta’a in Samoa before being raised by his maternal grandmother until three. The star’s mother, Lela Suapaia, later got him to stay with her in Honolulu.

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Suapaia ended up marrying Roy Harrington, who was mainland-born but came to Hawaii while serving in the army. The “Hawaii Five-0” star bonded so well with his stepfather that he changed his last name to Harrington.

The late star was part of the 1954 Punahou class. He was pretty active in playing championship football for his school’s team, and he also participated in its theater program.

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Harrington then studied at Menlo College before attending Stanford, where he graduated with a history degree and played college football. He got an offer from the Baltimore Colts but chose a different path.

The star went on a Samoan Mormon mission for two years, where he regained fluency in his ancestral language. When he returned to Hawaii, he coached football at Punahou and taught history.

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The actor joined “Hawaii Five-0” in 1972 as detective Ben Kokua and spent three years with them, earning a worldwide following. He then became a recording artist and a Waikiki showroom headliner.

Harrington was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts. He is survived by Rosa, daughters Summer and Cassi, sons Alema and Tau, and grandchildren.

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