Five-O writer tells anecdotes about the series

Jerome Coopersmith’s title card for Nine Dragons, a ninth-season episode of Hawaii Five-O

Jerome Coopersmith, a writer on the original Hawaii Five-O series, chatted recently with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about his time on the 1968-80 show.

Coopersmith, 93, wrote or helped write 32 episodes, including three featuring arch-villain Wo Fat.

According to the story, Coopersmith wrote his scripts at his home on Long Island. He would then take them to the CBS mailroom in New York City and they’d be flown overnight to Los Angeles.

Five-O had production offices in both Hollywood and Hawaii. Coopersmith also flew to Los Angeles for meetings with producers.

He was busiest on the series during the fourth through eighth seasons. He departed after penning the first two episodes of the ninth season.

Some of the highlights in the article include:

Ideas for scripts: “Some were suggested by the producers, but for the most part, the ideas came from reading the newspapers,” Coopersmith told the newspaper.

“A fabulous variety of crimes are committed every day,” the scribe added. “All I had to do was figure out how to transplant them to Hawaii, and how to make the criminals smarter than they are in real life so that it would take ‘Five-O’ an hour to catch up with them and not just five minutes. In real life most criminals are stupid.”

Local actors on Five-O: Creator-executive producer Leonard Freeman “wanted authentic Hawaiian faces on the ‘Five-O’ team,” Coopersmith told the Star-Advertiser. “That’s why he cast it that way.

“Besides his fondness for locals, there was another reason. When you cast Hollywood actors from the mainland you have to pay their travel and living expenses on Oahu, which strains the budget.”

While the article is of interest for fans of the original Five-O, some caveats are in order.

Coopersmith mis-remembers some details. He describes writing a 1975 episode titled Diary of a Gun. A cheap handgun keeps changing hands, with tragic events occurring.

“CBS was afraid of doing the show, but Len Freeman and (star) Jack Lord were strongly for it, and it was done,” Coopersmith told the newspaper. Problem: Freeman died in early 1974.

Coopersmith also tells anecdotes about Nine Dragons, a two-hour Wo Fat episode that led off the ninth season (1976-77). He mentions Bob Sweeney prominently.

Problem: Sweeney, whose title was supervising producer, worked on the show during the fourth through seventh seasons. He had departed Five-O long before Nine Dragons.

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