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Taylor Wily with Amata
Source: Uifa’atali Amata's D.C. staff press release

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata visited some of the family of Taylor (Teila) Tuli Wily to pay her respects and pay tribute to his memory, and is sending condolences to all who knew and loved him.

“Taylor Tuli Wily was a charming, kind, and fun-loving man, who stayed true to his roots, and valued his American Samoa heritage,” said Congresswoman Aumua Amata. “His successes in athletics and acting brought pride to many of us throughout the Pacific and especially those of us in Polynesian cultures. I had the wonderful privilege to meet him and see him on the set of one of his Hawaii-based shows. He brought joy to his audiences on screen and to his countless friends off screen.”

Born in Honolulu on June 14, 1968, Taylor played tackle in high school and semi-pro football in Hawaii, then had a successful career in sumo wrestling with a strong winning record. He went undefeated for his first 14 bouts and two tournament championships, before being promoted to the third highest division where he became the first foreign-born wrestler to win that division, and then continue to compete at the next level up, retiring from sumo in 1989.

Taylor’s first appearance as an actor was in 1982 on Magnum, P.I., before numerous movie parts and recurring roles on the television series Hawaii Five-O, where he played Kamekona Tupuola for 171 episodes over ten years. His character was so loved that he also became a recurring character on the reboots of both Magnum, P.I. and MacGyver. Other shows he acted in are North Shore and One West Waikiki, and notably, the hit movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Many of his co-stars posted condolences and were quoted in news reports of their fond memories of him, reocurringly describing him as kind and gentle, including that he was known to visit children in Shriner’s Children’s Hospital Hawaii.

Taylor Wily passed away on June 20, 2024, age 56, in Hurricane Hawaii. He is survived by his wife and two children, a son and a daughter.