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James MacArthur: The Disney Connection

When James MacArthur passed away last week at the age of 72, the obituaries I read emphasized his role as “Danno” on the long-running TV hit Hawaii Five-O, and understandably so…but at the same time they glossed over his career-building years at the Walt Disney studio. I was too young to see teenaged MacArthur in the live TV drama The Young Stranger and the feature film it spawned was over my head as a young moviegoer, but I vividly remember being introduced to the actor when Disney released The Light in the Forest, Third Man on the Mountain, Kidnaped, and Swiss Family Robinson. I wrote about all those films, and their significance, in my book The Disney Films, and still think Third Man on the Mountain is an—

—underrated picture. Fortunately, the website of The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco has posted a first-rate tribute to James MacArthur written by Jeff Kurtti, with many quotes from the actor about his experiences at the studio. It’s worth reading: wdfmuseum.squarespace.com.

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