‘Hawaii Five-O’ Actor Taylor Wily Dies at 56: A Tribute to His Legacy

Taylor Wily, who rose to fame on the sumo circuit in the late 1980s before moving into acting, appearing in memorable roles on the TV reboot of Hawaii Five-0 and the comedy film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, died this week in Hawaii, according to the local ABC News affiliate on the island. He was 56.

Wily’s death on June 20 was confirmed by TV producer Peter M. Lenkov, executive producer on the Hawaii Five-0 reboot. The network hit ran for a decade after premiering to a strong reception in 2010. On the show, Wily played Kamekona Tupuola, a shrimp truck owner and informant providing intel to the Five-0 Task Force. On Instagram, Lenkov wrote of his shock at the news of his friend’s death, then shared a heartfelt note directed to Wily. “I am devastated. Heartbroken. I’ll post some detailed feelings later. Just too hard right now,” Lenkov wrote in an initial post. Later in a second post, the producer who also brought reboots of 1980s favorites McGyver and Magnum P.I. to the network, wrote, “T, as I told you many times, I fell in love with you at the first audition. You came in with a towel on your head mopping up sweat, and I was smitten. You charmed me into making you a regular… on the show… and in my life. You were family. And I will miss you every day, brother. Actor Taylor Wily, best known for playing Kamekona Tupuola on “Hawaii Five-0,” has died at the age of 56.Video above: Remembering those we lost in 2023Wily passed away on Thursday while in Hurricane, Utah. The news of his death was announced “with a heavy heart” by Hawaii’s KITV 4 Island News.

“PS: when we spoke last week, we laughed at how right you were from Day 1. Five-0 was our dream job. And I was so lucky we got to share that magic together,” he concluded.

From Sumo Champion to TV Star

Hailing from Laie, Hawaii, Taylor Wily — who stood 6’2” and weighed 450 pounds, was recruited in 1987 into the Azumazeki stable of sumo, the century-spanning national sport of Japan. Wily, who wrestled under the name Takamikuni, was undefeated in his first 14 matches and soon became the first foreign-born wrestler to win the championship in the sport’s makushita division. Two years after starting his career in the sport, Takamikuni reached the rank of makushita 2; however, he declined to pursue sumo further after knee issues developed.

A Decade on Hawaii Five-0

In addition to his impressive achievements in sumo, Wily found lasting fame on television, particularly with his role on Hawaii Five-0. As Kamekona Tupuola, Wily brought humor, warmth, and depth to his character, becoming a fan favorite over the show’s ten-year run. His portrayal of Kamekona as a lovable and resourceful shrimp truck owner who also provided crucial information to the Five-0 team showcased his versatility as an actor and endeared him to audiences worldwide.

Memorable Roles Beyond Hawaii Five-0

Wily’s talents were not confined to the small screen. He also made a notable appearance in the 2008 comedy film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In the movie, Wily played a bartender who befriends Jason Segel’s lovelorn main character, adding a touch of local Hawaiian charm to the film. Additionally, he made an appearance on an episode of The Amazing Race, further showcasing his diverse range of skills and interests.

A Life Remembered

Taylor Wily’s passing is a significant loss to the entertainment industry and to those who knew him personally. His journey from sumo wrestling to acting is a testament to his determination, talent, and ability to reinvent himself. Wily’s impact on his fans and colleagues is evident from the outpouring of tributes and memories shared in the wake of his death.

Peter M. Lenkov, in his heartfelt messages, encapsulated the sentiments of many who worked with Wily: “You were family. And I will miss you every day, brother.” This sentiment is shared by the countless fans who came to love Wily’s characters and the warmth he brought to every role he undertook.

Taylor Wily’s Enduring Legacy

As we reflect on Taylor Wily’s life and career, it is clear that he leaves behind a rich legacy. From his early days as a sumo wrestler to his unforgettable performances on television and in film, Wily demonstrated a remarkable ability to connect with people and bring joy through his work. His contributions to Hawaii Five-0 and other projects have cemented his place in the hearts of fans and the annals of television history.

In conclusion, Taylor Wily’s passing at the age of 56 is a profound loss, but his legacy will continue to live on through the many roles he played and the lives he touched. As we remember his life and achievements, we celebrate the joy and entertainment he brought to so many. Rest in peace, Taylor Wily.

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