Given the range of sets on Magnum from back alleys to mansions to huts in Vietnam villages--where did all that stuff come from (and what happened to it after)?
First, the studio did have a small set dressing storage area behind the construction mill. It was an old military building with a tin roof and more than a few holes. We had rats, cockroaches, and centipedes besides all the set dressing. We kept a basic stock of items there from crates, barrels, old gas pumps and rustic things stored outside to kitchen items, drapes, office and desk equipment, basic chairs, dishes, etc. Most of these items were fairly nondescript and could be used over and over with not much fear that someone would say, "I saw that coffee mug 3 episodes ago!" Well, maybe YOU would have, but most viewers wouldn't! lol
Second and most important source was a place called The Consignment Center. I would give anything for that to still be here, but the owner, John, passed away in 1990 and soon after so did his establishment (with great scandal). If you had a chair (or a house full of items) you wanted to sell, you would take it to this consignment center. Your chair would be placed on sale for say $100. If it sold, you would get $60 and John would get $40. Now imagine a HUGE space packed with thousands and thousands of items from antiques to junk--that was The Consignment Center. I think half the things there belonged to people who had long since moved away or had died. John was a real character and was very successful at making deals. The best deal he ever made was to allow the decorator from "Hawaii 5-0" and later Magnum to rent these items that technically belonged to other people for 15% of the value for a week. We would pick up the items, use them, bring them back and John would get a check. If we damaged or lost anything, he got another check for the full price. A true "win-win" situation. Once in awhile John would get a call from someone who saw a painting or sofa they owned that showed up on a set from Magnum. Instead of apologizing or offering them compensation right away, he would start with, "Yes, isn't that WONDERFUL?!" Usually the person would then agree that it was wonderful that Grandmas chair was seen by millions of people not knowing John had just made 15% on it. In some cases they might not be so happy and I would be warned not to rent any more of their items. The stock there kept rotating so that it seemed an almost endless choice and was a perfect arrangement since I seldom needed (or wanted) an item again since it might have been seen already.
Third, and most unbelievable now, was C.S. Wo. The Wo family has had a virtual monopoly on furniture stores in Honolulu for more than 30+ years. Even now, all major furniture stores (even with different names) are still owned by the Wo family. Today if you want to buy something, it all comes from their warehouse. Even walking in to one of their stores with cash, you cannot buy anything off the floor and plan on 24-48 hours to even pick something up at their giant warehouse. However, in the "good old days" I could walk into their main store on Kapiolani Boulevard with my crew in the 5-ton truck, pick out anything I wanted right off the floor, and out the door it went! No one even believes me when I tell them that today. So any high-end looking furniture, lamp, pictures etc. were almost certainly from this store.
Having to buy everything would have meant storing or trying to sell it later since it would not be able to be used again in most cases. It also would have been a lot more expensive than paying 15 % a week to rent--which was usually all the time we needed it. If we did need it longer than a week, we would just pay another 15%. This also applied to a dozen other places from Chinese to antique or a lamp store. In cases when I would do a set for Higgins or Agatha, I used many of my own items from my house. At the time it seemed like a good idea since they would be available again if needed and were appropriate for the characters. In spite of the sense it made at the time, it was used against me 3 years later in a political move to get rid of me. More on that one later!
Sorry, no pictures yet, just more words! I promise to get my scanner going soon. Aloha