Kam Fong Chun, 84; Played Role of Detective in ‘Hawaii Five-O’

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Kam Fong Chun, 84, an actor best known for his portrayal of police Det. Chin Ho Kelly on the television series “Hawaii Five-O,” died Oct. 18 in Hawaii after a long battle with lung cancer.

Born Kam Ton Chun, he grew up in Honolulu, where his first teacher misunderstood his name and made him write Kam Fong Chun. He later made it his legal name.

He overcame many adversities in his early life, including his parents’ divorce, which cast the family into poverty.

He lost his first wife and two young children in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, when two American bombers collided and crashed into his house.


He tried to kill himself, but his mother talked him out of it. He joined the Honolulu Police Department and was an officer for 16 years before quitting the force in 1959.

He was selling real estate in the late 1960s when a colleague made an appointment for him to audition for a role in “Hawaii Five-O,” a police drama that was to be shot entirely on location in Hawaii. Chun played the part for 10 seasons before he tired of it and was written out by having his character killed in the final episode of the 1977-78 season.

The show, which starred Jack Lord as Det. Steve McGarrett, ran for 12 seasons on CBS, ending in April 1980, and was the longest continuously running police show in the history of television.