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Jack Lord Saw His Only Child Just Once & Never Met Him Again — He Passed Away without an Heir

Olawale Ogunjimi
May 10, 2022
11:00 P.M.
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Jack Lord of "Hawaii Five-O" was famous for his passion as a detective on the TV series. He was also happy around kids but never had the chance to cement his relationship with his son, who died at age 13, leaving him with no heir.


Jack Lord's most significant role on the big screen remains Steve McGarrett, the town detective in CBS's "Hawaii Five-O."

Although he already debuted his broadway career in the 1950s, it was not until his appearance in the suspense-filled drama that many came to appreciate his talent. Apart from his acting career, he ventured into producing and directing.

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


Undoubtedly, Lord found success in Hollywood, becoming one of the finest stars the industry had ever seen, thanks to his determination and brilliance as an entertainer. 

Lord imbibed these characteristics at an early age as a painter and artist. John Joseph Patrick Ryan, born to Ellen and William Ryan, lived in Brooklyn during his younger years.

He schooled in New York City and often helped his father's business by working as a freighter crewman during school. As a young man, he was captivated by the sea and would often paint pictures of foreign landscapes.

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


Eventually, his passion for painting such works led him to study maritime at the Fort Trumbull U.S Merchant Marine Academy in New London.

He remained in service building bridges in Persia and working onboard European transport vessels until after World War II when he became involved in the production of training films while at Fort Trumbull. 

That was when Lord considered acting a possible vocation and became determined to be among the best talents.

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


Once Lord found fame following his success as an actor, he became very conscious of protecting his private affairs and would never spew details of his love life.

It was only through Fans magazine publications that people knew that he had enjoyed a short-term romance with his first wife and that the marriage produced a son who died.

Fans' magazine editor got some information about Lord's private matters from Jerry Asher, who was close to the actor. He was also a man described as gossip with "the biggest mouth in town."



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

There have been many conflicting stories about Lord's life, especially about dates, but somehow, these sources have one thing in common, he was once married to Ann Willard, a woman he met during his duty on a cruise ship.


Willard was an attractive young woman whose appearance made Lord fall in love at first glance. She was born in 1921 in Paris, France, to a Brooklyn-native father whose occupation was a civil engineer.

American actor Jack Lord (born John Joseph Patrick Ryan), in character as Steve McGarrett, in a scene from an episode of the television police crime drama 'Hawaii Five-O,' 1979. | Source: Getty Images


Her mother was from Nice, France, but she became a US citizen once she married. Some sources maintain that Lord and the French-born woman married in 1944 in a ceremony officiated by the ship's captain.

But sadly, Lord was soon yanked away from his new bride as he was called to set sail again. Another revelation posits that the duo married in 1942, after which they enjoyed a five-week honeymoon. After Lord returned onboard for work, his wife continued her education at school.


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


A few months after leaving his new bride, she sent him a cable, explaining that he would be a father. But, in his absence, Willard already decided to live with her parents until their son was born.

In December 1942, Lord's son was born, but unfortunately, the seaman often did not see his child. According to Asher, Lord saw the boy only once, after securing a leave following his birth.

Promotional portrait of American actor Jack Lord (born John Joseph Patrick Ryan), in costume as Steve McGarrett from the television police crime drama 'Hawaii Five-O,' November 17, 1968. | Source: Getty Images


This must-have influenced Willard's decision to divorce her sailor husband and raise their son alone. A few years later, after his death, People Magazine published a story shared by the actor to a reporter in 1964.

The details explained that Williard did not have plans of raising their son in the US and that while she wrote a letter to inform Lord that they were expecting their son, she talked about divorce.


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


As it was with Lord's marriage, there are three stories surrounding his son's death. The first source claims that he died after suffering an illness from an early age; another maintained that it was after a drowning incident.

Asher alleged that Lord told him that his son was killed in an accident when he was thirteen. However, in this story, the actor said he received a death certificate in the mail without a letter.

A more plausible version from investigations was that the young lad, a resident of Greenwich Riverside in Connecticut, died of hepatitis. His death was recorded on August 24, 1955, and he was three months shy of his thirteenth birthday.


HAWAII FIVE-O. Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett in "Full Fathom Five."| Source: Getty Images

During this time, the town witnessed flooding caused by the convergence of two hurricanes which led to the death of many people.


Lord's son had contracted hepatitis, possibly from the contaminated water. He was placed under a doctor's watch for ten days, during which he was hospitalized for five days before his death.

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


The young lad, named after his father, was buried at the First Congregational Church Cemetery in Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, the same area he resided.

On his death certificate, Williard was listed as the informant. Despite the tragedy, she later moved on by marrying another man and settling in the US until she died in 2004.


US actor Jack Lord in a studio portrait, circa 1950. | Source: Getty Images


Like Williard, the "Hawaii Five-O" star remarried after his son's death. Although he loved kids, something everyone around him noticed, he was never lucky enough to become a dad again.

At the beginning of his marriage with Marie DeNarde, the couple pledged to focus on Lord's career instead of making babies. They considered becoming parents once it set sail, but it never happened, as DeNarde suffered a miscarriage. 

American actor Jack Lord, the star of the "Hawaii Five-O" television series. | Source: Getty Images


Their failure to welcome kids made the couple resign to the pursuit of success in Lord's acting career. DeNarde, who was already a successful actress with quite the fortune, gave up her career for her husband.

Despite not having kids as they wished, Lord accomplished an impressive career with the help of his wife. It would not have been possible if they had not met when they did.

The duo met when Lord, still a sailor on leave, was looking for a house to purchase in Upper New York State. Once they began talking, she fell in love with the handsome young man, and the rest became history.

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


They remained inseparable throughout their years as a couple, and DeNarde did everything she could to make Lord's life a happy and fulfilled life.

DeNarde cooked his meal, was dedicated to housekeeping, helped control his temper, and ultimately molded him into a better man.

Sadly, in 1998, the actor passed away in his Honolulu home after suffering congestive heart failure. Although any heir except his wife did not survive him, Lord lived an accomplished life, including an inspiring marriage and an excellent career.