Jack Lord, a.k.a. Det. Steve McGarrett, from the series “Hawaii Five-O,” became known to more than 300 million viewers per week around the world thanks to his wife Marie De Narde.

Jack Lord, who played Detective Steve McGarrett on “Hawaii Five-O” for twelve years, would have been an average merchant ship worker if not for his supportive wife.

He met his true love after losing his son and ending his first marriage.

His then-wedding to a 44-year-old caused him to be the butt of his co-workers’ jokes, but little did they know, the woman gave up her budding career to help Lord become a successful actor.

Jack Lord, known as John Joseph Patrick Ryan outside the industry, kept his private life out of the spotlight for years, not feeling the need to share about it. Whenever reporters would ask him about his first marriage, he often asked them not to talk about it, to which reporters would oblige.

Many people speculated about his first marriage: some accused him of neglecting his responsibilities, while others assumed he prioritized his career over his family.

Jack Lord (1920-1998), US actor, smiling in a publicity portrait, circa 1965. | Source: Getty Images

“There’s an area of public life and an area of private life. I’m not willing to pay that price,” he told Jane Ardmore in 1963 while she was working on an article titled “Jack of All or Many Trades.”

While not much is known about his first marriage, one fact about it is that his son died when he was only 12 years old. The boy was ill for a little over two weeks until his death.

His death certificate showed hepatitis as his cause of death, and his mother, Ann Willard Ryan, was the only informant listed on the certificate.

Lord only ever saw his son once as an infant. Reports say Lord lost track of his family, with his letters to his ex-wife returning to him unopened. His wife filed for divorce while he was at sea, and they lost contact ever since.

Jack Lord in a promotional still for "Hawaii Five-O" circa the 1970s. | Source: Getty Images

After his first marriage ended, Lord found love again in Marie DeNarde, a successful fashion designer. She was already a wealthy businesswoman when she met Lord, having had significant real estate investments.

There are several published versions of how Lord first met DeNarde. During one interview while Lord was just starting out in the industry, DeNarde gave a credible account.

DeNarde had an L-shaped stone house in the upper New York state area and an apartment in the city. One day, she came home from work one evening to find a letter from a man to purchase her house.

The fashion designer was stunned by the “ridiculously low” price, so she threw the note in the trash. Days later, she began getting calls in her Manhattan apartment, which she also chose to ignore.

She would, later on, find out that Lord met DeNarde’s proprietor at the local market and gave him her phone number. It seemed Lord was relentless in his pursuit of a new home, sending another message with a phone number and a request for DeNarde to return the call.

Jack Lord and Marie DeNarde circa 1960s. | Source: Getty Images

Finally, DeNarde gave in and gave her persistent caller a chance to say his piece. She told the man she saw his initial letter and had no intentions of accepting his low offer, especially since she had no intentions of selling her home.

Lord clarified that he was a sailor and had never written DeNarde any letters. She then realized there were two different men interested in buying her home.

DeNarde felt guilty for wasting Lord’s time by refusing to answer his calls. She invited him to check the home, and he agreed.

When DeNarde opened the door to welcome Lord, she was stunned. She was surprised to see such a “handsome sight.”

They ended up talking for five hours on that day and admitted to being absolutely smitten with her new sailor friend. She described his looks as something straight out of a Wonder Bread commercial, with Lord having a broad chest and being gorgeously handsome.

Despite everything, DeNarde was fifteen years older than Lord. She was already financially stable, with a good career as a fashion designer.

A portrait of Jack Lord circa 1970. | Source: Getty Images

Lord began courting her, and soon after, he was certain he had found his soulmate. He proposed to DeNarde at El Farro’s, a Spanish restaurant in Greenwich Village in New York.

While Lord waited for DeNarde to arrive, he sat at the bar where actor Jack Elam struck up a conversation. When DeNarde arrived, she spoke to the actor as well, saying she was planning a trip to Spain.

When Lord and DeNarde were alone, he told her his true intentions. He said he was leaving New York to move to California and asked if she’d like to go with him.

The fashion designer asked if that was Lord was asking for her hand in marriage. When he said he was, DeNarde happily accepted.

The couple got married on January 17, 1949. They moved into her New York apartment together and lived there for a couple of years.

Through the years, Lord and DeNarde chose not to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Instead, they’d celebrate the day that they met.

After their wedding, DeNarde dedicated her life to her husband. Lord’s co-stars in “Hawaii Five-O” even joked that she mothered him, describing her as a gracious woman.

Whenever news reports on Lord surfaced, they’d always mention how devoted Lord and DeNarde were to one another. They were always spotted holding hands, and Lord always gushed about his wife’s many qualities.

Through the years, Lord proudly shared about DeNarde’s cooking skills, the way she kept their home running, and even her 19-inch waist.

Jack Lord with his wife Marie De Narde seated in a New York theater; circa 1970. | Source: Getty Images

He also credited her for making him a better man. She helped him control his temper and was the only thing in the world he cared about.

The actor gratefully shared how DeNarde changed the course of his life. Should he not have met her, he would have likely been on merchant ships for the rest of his life.

Instead, he became a successful actor while DeNarde put her own career in the backseat. “I think my whole life has been an effort to become the man she thought I was,” he said.

Throughout his career, DeNarde was always by Lord’s side. He never went anywhere without her, and even his contracts stipulated that accommodations needed to include space for his wife.

Lord had always loved children. Whenever he was around them, he’d show his gentle side, something not a lot of people got to see.

Even his “Hawaii Five-O” cast member, Kam Fong, remembered how the usual stern Jack Lord would become someone completely different whenever there were children on the set.

While Lord’s love for children would have made him a great father, he and DeNarde agreed early in their marriage that they would not have children. This was so they could channel all their energy into Jack’s career.

They were the perfect tandem, and when Jack’s career took off, they considered having children again. Unfortunately, it never happened.

Rather than dwelling on what could have been, the couple continued to work on Jack’s career. He got his big break on “Hawaii Five-O,” which instantly became a worldwide sensation with 300 million viewers from 80 different nations.

DeNarde also played a part in the hit show, but behind the scenes. She designed clothing for her “Hawaii Five-O” star husband, which he wore while filming.

Actor Jack Lord and wife Marie Denarde attend the 13th Annual American Film Institute (AFI) Lifetime Achievement Award Salute to Gene Kelly on March 7, 1985 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images

At one point in Lord’s career, he became so famous that even Elvis Presley recognized him in a sea of people. At one of Presley’s concerts, he asked Lord to stand up to be recognized.

When the crowd’s applause roared, Presley asked Lord to sit back down, joking: “You’re getting more applause than I am.” After the concert, Presley posed for pictures alongside Lord and DeNarde.

After the end of “Hawaii Five-O” in 1980, DeNarde and Lord enjoyed retirement. They involved themselves in charitable work and focused on leisurely things that brought them joy and relaxation.

They stepped away from the spotlight literally and figuratively, with fans wondering where he had gone. It turned out that DeNarde and Lord settled in Hawaii, where they had a beach home.

Through the years, they were only photographed once by the paparazzi. They respected his privacy and his wishes to stay out of the public eye.

Colleagues from “Hawaii Five-O” once recalled her strong love for Lord, saying that even when she had a difficult time walking, she’d still walk towards the door of her husband’s room to shut it from prying eyes.

Actor Jack Lord on January 19, 1972 at the CBS Television City for a taping of "Hawaii Five-O" in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Even during retirement, DeNarde remained faithfully devoted to Lord. Colleagues from “Hawaii Five-O” once recalled her strong love for Lord, saying that even when she had a difficult time walking, she’d still walk towards the door of her husband’s room to shut it from prying eyes.

“There never was a happier man,” they said of Jack during his last years with his wife. They’d go to the beach together, and he’d write poems for her in the sand.

DeNarde and Lord lived life to the fullest and with no regrets. In 1998, at the age of 77, Lord died of heart failure. He was at his Honolulu home with his loving wife when he passed away.

In a statement, DeNarde made sure to thank all those who were a part of her husband’s life. She also credited the show that changed the course of their lives and the Hawaiian islands that they grew to love. She said:

“Through all his years he was blessed with kindness, affection, and support of many fans and friends. He always appreciated that and never forgot it.”

Following his death, Lord’s ashes were dispersed in Hawaii’s ocean waters. His friends and co-stars honored him alongside his wife, who recalled her happy memories with Lord, including the way his eyes shone when he smiled and how he had always loved her cooking.