Iconic dancer in 'Hawaii Five-0' opening credits remembered for her wit, warmth

Iconic dancer in 'Hawaii Five-0' opening credits remembered for her wit, warmth
Helen Kuoha-Torco's dancing shook up the original credits of "Hawaii Five-0" for decades. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Helen Kuoha-Torco's dancing shook up the original credits of "Hawaii Five-0" for decades. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - From 1968 to 1980, Helen Kuoha-Torco's dancing shook up the original "Hawaii Five-0" in the opening credits.

In the pilot episode, Jack Lord couldn't take his eyes off the captivating dancer and neither could viewers.

But her husband, Al Torco, was her biggest fan.

"When the show came out in the theater in Waikiki. Ohhh who's that? It was exciting. It was really exciting," he said.

"She has that charm and she's really graceful because of dancing," he added.

Kuoha-Torco died Aug. 10 after a battle with cancer.

On Friday, her family and friends remembered her at a funeral service in Kaneohe.

Kuoha-Torco also appeared in the "Five-0" reboot with Scott Caan and was even interviewed by Al Roker on the Today Show.

When Hawaii News Now spoke to her in 2011, she was believed to be the only survivor from the show's opening.

"I wish my face was on it (the opening credits), but you know, everybody knows my hips," she said.

Kuoha-Torco described the long hours filming the iconic scene.

"It was take, cut, take, cut, 14 hours of filming the opening. Dancing, stop, dancing, stop," she said. "I thought my hips were gonna fall off. It was hard work, it was fun work, and I loved every moment of it."

Kuoha-Torco graduated from Farrington High, had a doctoral degree and was a business technology professor at Windward Community College, where she met her husband.

She was also the Aloha Festival Queen in 2002.

"She loved everyone no matter what they did right or what they did wrong. If you knew her, she loved you," said Kuoha-Torco's daughter, Jodi Hew-Len Dolan. "For being so nice to a lot of people, she was my best friend."

Kuoha-Torco is survived by her husband, a retired HPD police lieutenant, six children, six siblings, 39 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was 76.

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