Reflection is the validation of a happy life. And you’re a lucky soul, if you have fond memories.
As one who covered the Waikiki scene – with a focus on entertainment – I miss the good ol’ days.
Gone, but not forgotten; but I cherish these 10 yesteryear recollections:
- The Kodak Hula Show, on a patch of green adjacent to the Waikiki Shell, was a freebie crammed with hula, mele and fun, widely supported by visitors. The ALOHA signage at the show’s finale, was a photo op for the times.
- Duke Kahanamoku’s, the epicenter of the birth of global favorite, Don Ho. With roots in Kaneohe, he was a crooner beloved by young women and grandmas,who waited for his kisses. “Tiny Bubbles” became his signature. But his recordings of a clutch of Kui Lee tunes made both famous.
- Hilo Hattie, doing her iconic “When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop” She was not a particularly great singer, nor dancer, but she had charisma, in the tutuwahine mode, adored by locals and visitors alike in her revue at the original Halekulani Hotel as well as the Hilton Hawaiian Village Tapa Room..
- Coco’s, the 24-hour eatery, located at Kalakaua Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard, replaced Kau Kau Korner at the pivotal gateway to Waikiki. It was the place to go for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but also a grand wee-hour spot for after-movie munchies. The restaurant also boasted a much-photograph locator sign, pointing to cities around the world, and would be a popular selfie spot today, if it were still around.
- The humble venue called The Noodle Shop at the Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel fronting the Ala Wai Canal, was the birthplace for the career of Frank DeLima. He delivered oodles of local-style gags, and Imelda Marcus, then the first lady of the Philippines, popped in to see him enact her. She surely was the most widely known spectator. That ensured DeLima’s trademark Imelda hair and toaster-sleeved dress, in his routine.
- The Monarch Room, the fabled showroom-restaurant in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (aka The Pink Palace), is where notable headliners appeared: Wayne Newton, The Brothers Cazimero, John Rowles, Ed Kenney, Marlene Sai, Beverly Noa.
- The Waikiki Theatre, on Kalakaua Avenue, was later known as the Waikiki 3 because of satellite screens 1 and 2 on Seaside Avenue around the block.- This was the movie palace jewel of the Pacific, with a rainbow arch surround the screen, an in-house organ providing pre-show concerts on weekends, a ceiling with moving clouds, a cluster of coconut trees on both side aisles. The walkway original boasted ponds with water, with screen-star autographs on the cement. Today, the site has restaurants and boutiques – with no designation of its past glory, except for the “WAIKIKI” nameplate.
- The $1 buffet meals, at the Waikiki Sands, was a true bargain for the times, unfancy but fulfilling. The concept eventually evolved as current $80 buffets in other Waikiki resorts.
- The Hilton Hawaiian Village Dome, a replica of the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, had film screenings (like “Around the World in 80 Days.” It eventually became a nightclub hub for such shows as “Paradise Found” and such singing headliners like Don Ho, Jim Nabors, and magician John Hirokawa.
- The first Bruno Mars concerts, at Blaisdell Arena. Our local superstar at his best. The Arena is expansive yet intimate. Consequently, the second Mars concert at Aloha Stadium had larger crowds but less intimacy. Still, watching our former Little Elvis on the stadium screens proved he’s still a certified star.