Obituary: Mel Prestidge (1928-2011)

January 31, 2011

Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times carried a brief death notice for Mel Prestidge.  Although the obit doesn’t mention his acting career at all, Prestidge played police lieutenant Danny Quon on Hawaiian Eye from 1959-1963. 

Since Hawaiian Eye was about, yes, private eyes, Lt. Quon was always a third banana, showing up to arrest the crooks or rescue the detectives after Tracy Steele (Anthony Eisley) or Tom Lopaka (Robert Conrad) solved the case.  It was the kind of thankless role that would get a supporting actor a regular paycheck, but not much attention.

Prestidge only played a few more roles after Hawaiian Eye went off the air – guest shots on things like My Three Sons and The Wild Wild West – but he seems to have left acting long ago.  (According to the Times obit, he worked for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office for more than two decades.)  That’s too bad, because Prestidge added a lot to his few scenes in the series.

Some of the Asian American actors on Hawaiian Eye were amateurs, or skewed towards racial stereotypes (think of Poncie Ponce as the ukelele-strumming cab driver; whatever happened to him?).  But Prestidge always had a natural, regular-guy quality.  He was the only regular on the show who seemed like he might have hailed from the real Hawaii instead of the backlot Hawaii.

The media archives are out of reach until this weekend, but if anyone cares to send in a screen grab of Prestidge in the meantime, I’ll post it.

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3 Responses to “Obituary: Mel Prestidge (1928-2011)”

  1. Grady Lynn Says:

    Hello

    I’m the Son In law of Melvin Prestidge, and yes his Obit did not express his whole career. His Mother was Japanese and his father was half Hawaiian and half Australian. Melvin was born in Honolulu Hawaii and he was raise by strict parents with a strong influence of Hawaiian culture. His Father spoke fluent Hawaiian. After WWII he worked in Okinawa Japan at a water treatment plant run by the United States Military. After two years he returned back to Hawaii and became a HPD Officer and was discovered by an agent. He resigned from HPD after getting work on Captain Grief . He ended up in Mission Hills California and acting work dry up. He became a LA Sheriff, then his agent called and the show Hawaiian eye wanted a real Hawaiian to play the part of Lt Quon. He got the part but this time he did not quit his day job as a LA Sheriff. He worked at Burbank Studios shooting Hawaiian Eye and worked graveyard shift as a LA Sheriff. He retired from LA District Attorney Office and was hired as a Fraud Investigator for Farmers Insurance. He rose to the level of chief investigator and he retired from Farmer Ins at the age 65 yrs old. That same year he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He fought the cancer almost 17 years and died from Pneumonia. He enjoyed his retirement the cancer never stop him. He and his wife of 62 years Evan, travel all over the world. We had just come back from Europe just six months before he died. I was glad we took that trip Mel and my Son his grandson walked the little back streets of Mykonos Greece together exploring the shops and sights. Want any pics from the past or present, email me.

  2. Bonnie Stark Says:

    I met Mel in1964-65 in Canoga Park, CA. He was sheriff in Malibu at the time. He was a tall good looking really nice man. I was 18 and still in high school. I don’t know how my aunt met him. He may have been looking at her home that was for sale at the time. I will never forget him.


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