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Jack Lord & Older Wife of 49 Years, Who Mothered Him, Had Changing Views on Having Kids after His Son's Death

Esther NJeri
Mar 19, 2022
10:20 P.M.
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Jack Lord did it all. From playing the fan-favorite McGarrett on "Hawaii Five-O" to selling Cadillacs. And yet his private love was nothing to write home about. He had an unhappy first marriage that he remained quiet about for years. 

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Jack Lord was a man of many talents. Besides acting, he was also an accomplished painter, having earned a degree in Fine Arts from NYU, where he studied under a football scholarship. 

He was also a sailor in his youth and loved poetry and singing. But beneath his never-ending array of skills, Lord faced several challenges in his personal life. 

Portrait of US actor Jack Lord. [Left] | Actor Jack Lord in a photo with his wife Marie De Narde. [Right] | Source: Getty Images

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JACK LORD'S FIRST MARRIAGE WAS NOT A GOOD ONE

"The Lone Woman" actor met his first wife, Anne Cecily Willard, aboard a cruise ship. He fell in love fast and married her. According to some reports, the ship's captain married them in 1944. 

However, others say that the couple married in 1942 and went on a five-week honeymoon. Willard soon returned to school while Lord rejoined his ship for work. A few months later, Lord received word that he was about to be a father. 

Willard planned on staying with her parents until she welcomed their child. Lord then reportedly rented a house at the Chesapeake Bay on his subsequent work leave and wrote his wife to tell her the good news. 

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US actor Jack Lord wearing a white polo neck jumper and posing with his head resting against his hand, in a studio portrait, circa 1950. | Source: Getty Images

While replying to the letter about their new house, Willard also made it known to Lord that she did not want her son raised in America. Eventually, Lord reportedly lost track of his wife and son, as his letters often returned unopened. 

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In 1964, Lord would tell Motion Picture Magazine that when Willard wrote him to relay the news that she was expecting their child, she also asked for a divorce as she did not want to live in the U.S. and wanted to raise their son alone.

THEORIES ABOUT JACK LORD'S SON'S DEATH

Despite his excitement about starting a family, some reports say Lord did not see his son in the course of his life. Contrary to that belief, MGM publicists and noted fan magazine writer Jerry Asher said Lord saw his son once before he died. 

American actor Jack Lord as Lt Steve McGarrett in the TV series 'Hawaii Five-O', circa 1975. | Source: Getty Images

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One theory surrounding Lord's son's death says he passed on following a sickness while still very young. A second theory says he was a teen when he died from drowning. 

The "Walk Like A Dragon" actor reportedly told Asher that his son died in an accident when he was thirteen, and Lord only got to learn about it when he received a death certificate in the mail, with no letter. 

Today, the real version of the events behind Lord's son's demise is that he died from Hepatitis Virus on August 24, 1955, when he was only months away from celebrating his thirteen birthday.

American actor Jack Lord, circa 1965. | Source: Getty Images

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He had been under the doctor's care for days before he passed on. Some speculated that Lord's silence on his family was because he did not want to put his wife under public scrutiny.

However, when he spoke to Jane Andmore in 1963, it became clear how ardent he was about keeping his private life separate. He said it had no relevance to his work, adding:

"There's an area of public life and an area of private life. I'm not willing to pay that price." 

Actor Jack Lord at the CBS Television City for a taping of "Hawaii Five-O" in Los Angeles, California on January 19, 1972. | Source: Getty Images

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LORD'S WIFE MARIE DE NARDE MOTHERED HIM

Lord may have had an unhappy first marriage, but he redeemed himself when he married his second wife, Marie De Narde. Narde was an accomplished fashion designer and an independently wealthy businesswoman. 

The events of Narde and Lord's meeting are surrounded by speculation, like all other aspects of his personal life. However, Narde did open up about it to journalist Robert Smith. Below is her recollection of their meeting.

An avid photographer at the time, Lord had visited his brother in upstate New York and was taking photos of the countryside when he came upon Narde's stone house. He was immediately taken with it and tried reaching out to her to see if she would be willing to sell it to him.

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Actor Jack Lord and wife Marie Denarde attend the 13th Annual American Film Institute (AFI) Lifetime Achievement Award Salute to Gene Kelly on March 7, 1985. | Source: Getty Images

Unfortunately, Narde had been at her Manhattan apartment, and most of Lord's letters and phone calls went unanswered. He was relentless. He wrote to her again, saying:

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"Well, madam, I'm a sailor. I have never written any letter, but I have spent all of my leave trying to reach you."

Narde disclosed that while she had no intentions of selling her house, she agreed to meet him and talk about it. When she opened the door, she was smitten by the strikingly handsome and broad-chested man in front of her.

US actor Jack Lord in a profile in a publicity portrait issued for the US television series. 'Hawaii Five-0', USA, circa 1975. | Source: Getty Images

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She confessed that they talked for hours, and soon after, they began courting. Despite Narde being financially independent and 15 years older, Lord knew she was the one for him. A short while later, he started making plans to propose to her. 

Lord and Narde planned to meet at El Farro's, a Spanish restaurant in the Greenwich Village, on the big day. With his martini on the table, he waited for her, and when she arrived, he began his proposal. But it did not go as planned.

A few moments in, actor Jack Elam walked in, slapped Lord on his back, and struck up a conversation. Narde joined in, telling Elam that she planned on taking a trip to Spain.

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American actor Jack Lord (1920 - 1998) with his wife Marie De Narde, circa 1988. | Source: Getty Images

But once they were alone again, Lord said he wanted to move to the West Coast and would she come with him? When she asked if he was proposing to her, he said he was, and Narde quickly answered:

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"Then I accept."

According to Biographer Virginia Tolles, the lovebirds married on January 17, 1949, and moved into Narde's New York apartment that same week. Lord later disclosed that they never celebrated their wedding anniversaries, instead choosing to commemorate the day they met.

US actor Jack Lord wearing a black cowboy hat and a white fleece jacket with a red neckerchief, circa 1970. | Source: Getty Images

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Narde became a constant companion to Lord and the only person who truly knew him. And despite having a successful career before meeting him, she gave it all up to take care of him and support his career. 

Lord's castmates said Narde often mothered him, and it was evident how proud he was of his wife. He would praise her waist, cooking, and meticulous housekeeping skills. He would gush over her saying:

"Meeting her made all the difference. I might have sailed on merchant ships for the rest of my life. She gave my life a purpose."

Portrait of US actor Jack Lord August 22, 1970. | Source: Getty Images

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His wife helped him break his bad habits and kept him focused. He once said: "I think my whole life has been an effort to become the man she thought I was.

 JACK AND MARIE'S CHANGING VIEWS ABOUT HAVING KIDS

Lord loved children. Kam Fong, who worked alongside Lord for ten years, said that whenever the aloof and stern "Goldfinger" actor was around kids, he seemed gentler and like someone else altogether. 

But despite clear evidence that he had an undeniable connection to children, he and Narde had agreed early in their marriage that they did not want kids. They wanted to focus all their energy on making a success of Lord's career.

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Jack Lord in character as Steve McGarrett, in a scene from TV drama 'Hawaii Five-O,' 1979. | Source: Getty Images

And they did! But once Lord's career began taking off, they seemed to have a change of heart and started talking about children again. However, it was not to be. Some sources say she had a miscarriage at some point.

They were disappointed by the turn of events but focused on Lord's career. And despite never having children, the couple had a happy union and stayed married for 49 years. Narde constantly supported her husband, and Lord never once forgot to appreciate and cherish the love they shared. 

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