Bob Apisa For Five-0 Governor

Don Chapman
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July 13, 2011
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Bob Apisa. Barry Markowitz photo

Mike Gordon’s entertaining piece in the StarAdvertiser about potential replacements for the governor on Hawaii Five-0 because Jean Smart’s Gov. Pat Jameson was gunned down in the first season finale after being exposed as a traitor in cahoots with Wo Fat got me thinking about other potential candidates.

The next day at our annual gathering of old pals at Duke’s during the Fourth of July Walter Macfarlane outrigger canoe regatta in Waikiki, I came up with the perfect candidate. And so today I am nominating for governor a man I believe to be most qualified Bob Apisa.

His resume is long, broad and strong, but specifically to the point of being governor, Bob actually worked for both Gov. John Burns and Gov. George Ariyoshi at the Capitol as an administrative aide/analyst.

And he got his start in show biz on the old Five0 when he and some friends were hanging around the beach in Waikiki, and he was “discovered” and immediately put to work by Jack Lord, the original Steve McGarrett.

For those too young to remember or for those who never knew or have simply forgotten, here’s a bit more background on Bob, who is among the greatest athletes to come out of Hawaii and one of the most successful in Hollywood of any Hawaii native.

A Farrington High grad, class of ‘64, Bob was allstate in football, basketball and baseball. Speaking to his all-around prowess, during his senior year between games of a double-header, the Farrington track coach drove over and hurried Bob to the Punahou Relays. Wearing baseball pants and cleats, he won both the shot put and 100-yard dash. Let me know the next time someone pulls off that rarefied double.

After starring for the - ahem - Governors, Bob went off to Michigan State, where he and fellow local boys Charlie Wedemeyer and Dick Kenney (the barefoot kicker) starred for MSU’s national championship team in 1966.

Their game against Notre Dame that season, with Bob as the starting fullback, was billed as The Game of the Century.

And it was the first time Islanders had seen an event broadcast “live” on television, thanks to a new communications satellite dubbed Lani Bird by the media. (Previously, games were seen a week delayed.) The game ended in a 10-10 tie. By the way, Bob, one of the original Samoan athletic pioneers, and his teammates will be honored Oct. 22 during the Spartans’ homecoming game against Wisconsin.

After football, a knee injury making an NFL career impossible given medical technology at the time, Bob returned home and got into politics.

He also dabbled in acting until Tom Selleck and Magnum, P.I. came along. That launched him into a career as a stuntman. He would move to Hollywood and become one of the best and most fearless in the stunt game, as he jumped off moving trains, was stampeded by a herd of runaway horses, was set on fire, and thrown through a glass window and fell several stories. He also did a lot of acting. I recall turning on the TV once and seeing Bob leaning out of a helicopter, firing a machine gun.

He would go on to both direct and produce films and TV programs in a show biz career spanning more than 20 years.

Now it’s time to bring him back as governor a straight-shooter who projects strength, intelligence, experience and quiet dignity. Plus, he still looks like he could get you three or four yards from scrimmage every time he touches the ball.

“You know me, I’m not the type to go begging for a role,” Bob said last week before departing with Arlena, his wife of 24 years, for their home in Granada Hills outside Los Angeles. “But if someone offered me the job, I think I’d make a pretty good governor. I’ve been close to two of Hawaii’s best.”

And so I’m proud to lead the campaign cheers:

“We want Bob! We want Bob!”


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