WGF Exhibits: Celebrating 50 Years of Hawaii Five-O

Fifty years ago this month, the very first episode of Hawaii Five-O (entitled “Cocoon”) aired on CBS as a two-hour television movie. Twelve seasons and one enormously catchy theme song later, the series became the longest-running procedural drama of its day. In turn, Hawaii, which had only become a state in 1959, gained many tourists from the mainland and around the world from the small-screen exposure. Created by Leonard Freeman, the show's concept—a small and scrappy unit of cops solving peculiar crimes in beautiful island locations—had so much fuel in its tank, the show still churns out stories in revival form on CBS today.

New in the display cases leading into the WGF Library is an exhibit honoring 50 Years of “Five-O” and the work of Mr. Freeman. The exhibit shines a light on the painstaking work that goes into developing a series from fledgling idea to a well-oiled story machine that keeps people delighted and engaged, all while simultaneously enriching our entertainment and cultural landscapes. Thanks to Rose Freeman who worked tirelessly to safeguard her husband’s creative legacy, this exhibit features 50 years of treasures.

The items on display include Mr. and Mrs. Freeman’s plane tickets for an initial research trip to Hawaii, scrapbook photos, correspondence, script pages, a piece of concept art from “Cocoon” and a letter from Rose Freeman to the producers of the new Hawaii Five-0, offering them her advice and encouragement. Also on display are a pitch document and annotated script pages from executive producer Peter Lenkov and the revival of Hawaii Five-0.

Archival materials are a kind of living road map for budding writers. From them we can glean inspiration, motivation and the knowledge that we can do it too. Writers engaging with this display can expect to find an elucidating paper trail behind 50 years of a beloved TV series. What could be more motivational when you're walking into the front doors of a library to write your own film or television series?

So, hats off to Hawaii Five-O and special thanks to the Freeman Family and Peter M. Lenkov for loaning their materials for this exhibit. Catch it while it's up and also check out our collection of original Hawaii Five-O scripts as part of the Leonard Freeman collection!