Al Harrington: Mormon Actor
Al Harrington is an actor who is best known for his portrayal of Detective Ben Kokua on the original Hawaii Five-O, which aired from 1968 to 1979. He joined the cast during the fifth season, playing a variety of bad guys in five episodes. He was offered a regular role for the sixth season.
Harrington, named Tausau Ta'a at birth, was born on December 12, 1935, in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and was raised by his grandmother until he was about three years old. His mother, who was working in Honolulu, Hawaii, sent for him to live with her. She later married Roy Milburn Harrington and Al took his stepfather’s name when he was in high school. He was the first high school football All-American from Hawaii. He was ran track, played basketball, and was also active in drama, appearing in several productions. He played football for Stanford University, where he graduated in 1958. He had intended on majoring in drama, but at that time there was opposition to minority drama majors. He selected history instead. The Baltimore Colts expressed interest in him, but the pay was then much less for professional players, so he opted to return to Hawaii instead and teach at his former school, Punahou School, as well as the University of Hawaii. He served as a full-time missionary to Samoa. He started law school in California, but dropped out when he married Heather McKinlay and they moved back to Hawaii. In addition to teaching, he also worked as an entertainer (knife dancer and MC) in Waikiki, where he became known as “The South Pacific Man.” His long-running dance revue show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki helped him contribute to the growing entertainment industry in Hawaii.
He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and played one of the leads in the LDS film Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd. He also had a role in Light of the World, A Celebration of Life, produced by the LDS Church that played during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. He is the father of twin sons, Alema and Tau Harrington.