Outtakes Online: Widow of ‘Five-0′ creator dies at 83

Mar. 6, 2012 | 1 Comment

Rose Freeman with husband Leonard and daughters, from left, Robin, Lisa and Susan in 1972.

Rose Freeman with husband Leonard and daughters, from left, Robin, Lisa and Susan in 1972. (Courtesy photo)

BY MIKE GORDON / mgordon@staradvertiser.com

Rose Freeman, the widow of Leonard Freeman, the writer/producer who created the original “Hawaii Five-0,” died Sunday at her home in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 83.

She passed away peacefully after a brief illness, her three daughters at her side, said Robin Freeman Bernstein, the oldest of the daughters. Bernstein described her mother as a generous woman with a big heart.

“She was just one of the most loving souls and everybody felt loved in her presence,” Bernstein said.

Rose Freeman was born in August 1928 in Lake Forest, Ill. Her mother was a vaudeville singer and dancer and her father was a Hollywood prop man who went on to run a movie theater.

She headed west at 18 and became an actress at the Pasadena Playhouse in California, where she met her future husband during a production of “Here Comes Mr. Jordan.”

Rose Freeman acted under the name Joan Taylor and appeared in 38 film and television projects from the late 1940s to 1963. She starred in “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers,” “20 Million Miles to Earth” and the westerns “Rose Marie,” “Apache Woman” and “Warpaint.”

Much of her acting career was spent in television. One of her favorite roles was Milly Scott in “The Rifleman,” which put her alongside Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford.

She stopped acting when her children were young and turned her attention to raising them, said Bernstein, who was 8 at the time.

After Leonard Freeman died in 1974, Rose Freeman focused on managing “Hawaii Five-0,” her husband’s “most beloved creation,” Bernstein said. The original version of the series ran from 1968 to 1980. The new version, now in its second season, premiered in September 2010.

“It was her purpose in getting up in the morning and how lucky at 83 she had a purpose in her life,” Bernstein said. “Her family was very grateful for this. It kept her young.”

Peter Lenkov, the executive producer of the new version of “Five-0” told Bernstein that he would honor her mother with a tribute at the end of the March 19 episode. In an emailed statement, Lenkov said he would miss his friendship with Freeman.

“Rose was one of a kind, smart, beautiful — a great mother, grandmother and wife,” he said. “We are honored to be able to keep her husband’s legacy alive. She was the torch bearer in many ways. We counted on Rose for feedback and to help keep the course set.”

Freeman is survived by three daughters, two brothers and six grandchildren.

Memorial services will be held later this week in celebration of her life. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Memory of Rose Freeman to: Leo Baeck Temple, 1300 N Sepulveda Blvd., LA, CA 90049 and Skirball Hospice, 6345 Balboa Blvd., Suite 213, Encino, CA 91316.
Mike Gordon covers film and television in Hawaii for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at mgordon@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter. Read his weekly “Outtakes” column Sundays in the Star-Advertiser.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.shovan.5 David Shovan

    I just saw the episode with the tribute to Rose at the end. I did not realize Rose played Millie on The Rifleman. I liked her on that show. R.I.P.