Colleagues and friends of the late Joy Valderrama Abbott bid her a final adieu at a mid-day gathering Wednesday (June 23) at Waialae Beach near the park. They couldn’t let the coronavirus further delay a memorial gathering.

Abbott was a well-known singer, dancer, philanthropist, businesswoman, tennis and golf enthusiast and a Broadway booster who resided in three states: Hawaii, Florida and Pennsylvania.

She died on Feb. 8, 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic began to lock down life and activities, so a planned memorial then was cancelled. A year later, when COVID 19 was still in full bloom, here and elsewhere, it still was not prudent to hold a memorial service on the first anniversary of her passing.

Instead, a quiet, private remembrance gathering finally was held on the Waialae shoreline, with flowers dancing as if choreographed by Abbott. It was a time to reflect and say aloha to a beloved trouper.

Joy Abbott at Arcadia birthday party.

Abbott was a member of Punahou School’s class of 1948, and her lifetime friend and fellow student, Elva Yoshihara, assembled a handful of Buffanblu grads for the send-off, with the scriptures shared by Philip Ching, also a classmate. An informal lunch at Waialae Country Club followed.

Abbott was the widow of the legendary Broadway producer, director, and playwright George Abbott, whose iconic creations included “Damn Yankees,” “Pajama Game” and “Pal Joey.”

While she never performed on Broadway, she was an advocate of theater and had been staging the “Mr. Abbott Awards,” honoring a luminary on the Great White Way, annually until her death.

George and Joy Abbott

She had an unbridled passion for the stage, particularly the Broadway musicals, and was never shy to share her vocal talents. In recent years, Abbott staged free cabaret performances tapping Jim Howard as her pianist accompanist. To reciprocate, her Arcadia friends even hosted a birthday party for her a couple of years ago.

Yoshihara recalls her BFF’s “never say no” spirit, citing an occasion from the past where Judy Murata invited them to dinner at the House Without a Key at the Halekulani Hotel, in the era where Kanoe Miller was the featured hula soloist.

Elva Yoshihara

 “At that time, Joy had not had her second knee surgery or second hip surgery, so she was having a hard time walking with a cane,” said Yoshihara, who assisted Abbott to the stage.

When the lights were on and with a microphone facing her, Abbott was a pro and always ready to go. “She sang beautifully,” said Yoshihara. After one song, Abbott declared: “And now I would like to dance ‘Holoholo Kaa,’” which worried Yoshihara, who questioned her pal, “How in the world did you dance when you can hardly walk.”

Abbott replied, “Elva, when I’m on stage, I have no pain.”

Indeed, she was prone to so many surgeries – her shoulders, her knees, her hips – that I affectionately called her Bionic Woman because of numerous operations and interior replacements.

She had a flair for fashions, so she was always clad in attractive, eye-catching gowns. While her Hawaii gigs were informal and intimate, she also staged a Hawaii Theatre performance in decades past, where he singing and dancing and vogue-ish manners intersected. Oh, she also had a warehouse of jokes that she could share, mostly off stage.

Her indomitable spirit to entertain began years ago. At age 8, she was known as the Shirley Temple of Hawaii. As a performer for her business company named Moana, she did frequent shows, but after she met and married George Abbott in 1983, after a 25-year courtship, she curtailed her performances as her husband’s career flourished on the Great White Way. He died in 1995.

Joy graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1953, where she excelled as a nationally known tennis player, competing her collegiate career as the captain of her undefeated team, earning a slot in the Temple University Hall of Fame.

Her allegiance to Temple resulted in the formation of the George and Joy Abbott Center for Musical Theater at the college, ensuring support and academic opportunities, for future generations of theater students. In 2007, Joy bequeathed her ownership share and future royalties earned through production of George Abbott shows, along with memorabilia, to the Boyer College of Music and Dance.

Joy also had a friend and business partner, Jerry Mirrow, who assisted her in staging shows on the East Coast and in Florida. They were companions until her death …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …


The local surfing and acting community is buzzing with of an HBO Max series, entitled “Ke Nui Road,” filming in the epicenter of North Shore watersports.

Producer John Wells is launching “Ke Nui Road,” focusing on the North Shore surfers and lifeguards, zooming in on the relationships between an elite crew of heavy-water lifeguards and the young adults and tees they train and mentor in a junior lifeguard program.

One intent of the contemporary drama is to capture the pulse of the lifeguard profession that embraces the dangers, the beauty, and the struggles of the unpredictable currents and waves, amid the island-style spirit of aloha.

Clearly, this one will require and hire a bunch of water-experienced swimmers and surfers, plus crowds of extras if a surfing meet is part of the agenda.

John Wells

To the regulars who live and love the water culture, the film’s title will immediately ring a bell of recognition. The location is the epicenter of the project; Ke Nui Road is a brand of sorts, with an element of attraction and adventure, where residents and surfers traverse. In heavy wave season, the road becomes a character of sorts, too, fighting for survival along the coast, where the Pacific Ocean can unexpectedly spill into the shoreline properties of residents, while surfers try to catch the waves, as part of the mainstream surfing tradition.

Matt Kester (“Animal Kingdom”) will be an executive producer who also will provide the script.

There’s no word on how many shows will filmed, but the camera-hungry crowd here is excited about casting that’s still under way, because series “regular” roles are likely to be filled with Hawaii actors/athletes.

As one online post advises, “Time to check in with your agent.”

Wells has numerous TV and film credits, but he is best known as a showrunner and exec producer of such series as “ER,” “Third Watch,” “The West Wing,” “Shameless,” “Animal Kingdom,” and “American Woman.” …

And that’s “Show. Biz.” …


Comedian Frank DeLima is doing his part to encourage island residents to get vaccinated.

He’s launched “Do Da Vaccination,” a parody to Little Eva’s oldie hit, “Do the Locomotion,” nudging folks to get vaxxed and possibly win prizes, like airline miles or Las Vegas trips as a bonus.

He initiated the tune on his own, recording a simple self-taped video in which he shares his original lyrics, with a repetitive, “come on, come on do the vaccination for free.”

Frank DeLima

Then he got a call from adman Patrick Bullard, who asked DeLima if he could do one of his parodies to promote the State Department of Health’s bid to beef up the total of residents who haven’t yet been vaxxed during the pandemic. When he informed Bullard that he already had tune in the can, Brooks Baehr, Covid 19 response administrative assistant with DOE, contacted DeLima and sealed the deal to utilize the parody and the comic was taped in front of a “green screen,” enabling DOH to show the vaxxing progress over the past few months.

This gave DeLima an opportunity to “act” while performing, significantly upgrading his parody.

DeLima has been vaxxed; but he also has history with DOH, earlier doing promos on face masks, hand-washing and social distancing, in the early stages of the coronavirus dilemma last year.

But the wealth of prizes also ramps up the interest in vaxxing, perhaps now convincing the anti-vaxxers to cross the bridge.

“You know you really have a chance to win real big now,” he sings on the ad spot airing on local TV. “But first you gotta have da vaccination.”

He rattles off some of the current carrots: a year-long auto lease from Auto Source Hawaii, a $1,000 dining prize from Merriman’s, and 100,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles.

But if you’re already vaxxed, you still can try to snag one of the prizes. Gov. David Ige earlier this month authorized a website to register to qualify for the prizes.

Go to register, before the June 30 deadline.

Then wait to see your name is pulled from the hat, as DeLima sings. …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …

Note: To view the video, go to:


A Willie K fundraiser on June 25 will cap Maui’s Willie K Month observance at Da Playground.

Festivities will include a live auction and a silent auction plus performances by the Willie K Band featuring Kaleo Phillips and Gretchen Rhodes, along with Amy Hanaiali‘Ii Gilliom and her band, during both shows.

The first show, at 4 p.m., will feature a live streaming and a live auction, with bidders required to be on hand. Among the items to be auctioned is a Willie K guitar, and bidders must be present to participate. A concurrent online silent auction also will prevail, on the Willie K Facebook page. Doors open at 3:30 p.m

Willie K.

The second show, at 8 p.m., will feature a concert format with Gilliom and the gang, though an online silent auction – via the Willie K Facebook page – will streami live and bidders need not be present.  Doors open at 7 p.m.; the silent auction concludes at the end of the concert.

Admission is $40 general admission, $60 for VIP access on Maui. Tickets are available at

Willie K, of course, is the beloved island performer known for his expansive musical styles including Hawaiian, pop, blues, jazz, opera and more. Willie Kahaiali‘i  died of lung cancer on May 18, 2020  at age 59 and was a magnetic concert draw for two years as an anchor entertainer at the Blue Note Hawaii club at the Outrigger Waikiki resort.

Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom

He and Amy were musical partners in the 1990s, recording an album together, and both benefitted by the relationship, earning Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in the process. With a reunion album recorded live in a concert, Willie and Amy were nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005. …

‘NCIS’ chatter

There’s talk but no confirming evidence about the possible appearance of Mark Harmon, the founding father of the “NCIS” legacy, on whether he might make a surprise appearance on the local spin-off, “NCIS: Hawai‘i.”  Since filming already under way for the first episode, the hope that Harmon might guest on the premiere episode is slim.

Mark Harmon

There was worrisome tension, too, about his sort-of anticipated departure from the flagship show, because he hadn’t committed to the series in which he has starred from the get-go till the last minute. Yes, Leroy Jethro Gibbs will be part of the 19th season of “NCIS,” but details are scanty on how huge his visibility might be.

And there was a real possibility that season 18 might have been the last, since Harmon had cut back his participation as the show headed toward its finale.

His sked remains iffy this coming season, too, as he might adopt the regimen of co-star David MCallum (Dr. Ducky Mallard), whose appearances were minimal the past season or two. Even CBS Entertainment honcho Kelly Kahl has indicated that CBS wasn’t sure how many episodes Harmon would appear in and that the studio would “work around his schedule.”

So we shall all have to wait till Sept. 1, when the new season of “NCIS” kicks off at 8 p.m. Mondays, preceding the newbie, NCIS: Hawai‘i” at 9 p.m. …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …


Remember “The Jeffersons,” that “All in the Family” spin-off on CBS?

The show came to Hawaii, some decades ago, and filmed four episodes. One of its writers was David “Kawika” Talisman, then a fledging screenwriter and sometimes musician, who was a writer for the hit series who also became the local man-in-charge of series star Sherman Hemsley.

This is all brought to the present with a hilarious new book called “Honky in the House” (available at about the producing and writing of the series, by Jay Moriarty, who was a senior writer-executive producer and hands-on script writer, for “The Jeffersons,” which aired from 1975 to ’85.

David Talisman

I don’t know Moriarity, but I met Talisman then. Now he’s a bona fide P.I. (private investigator) – and has emerged as a long-time friend.

“He actually mentioned me in the book as one of the writers for the show,” said Talisman. “While I spend my days now as a P.I., I can’t help but look back and fondly remember my time with ‘The Jeffersons,’” said Talisman.

Sherman Hemsley

“I’m sure there are still a bunch of folks who are still around Hawaii that appeared on those shows,” Talisman surmised. “Well, we’re moving on up the Eastside,” he said of the famous quote from Norman Lear’s sitcom that ran 11 seasons, often in the No. 1 slot in Nielsen ratings.

“I can tell you about one frightening moment when Sherman Hemsley got dressed up in skin diving gear for a scene on the show,” said Talisman.  “While we were videotaping him playing tourist, backing into the ocean by the helipad at the Ilikai Hotel, he totally disappeared from sight. We thought he was just hamming it up but that wasn’t the case.”

Oops, he fell into the ocean, said Talisman, about those frantic moments.

“He didn’t know how to swim!  A bunch of people on set jumped in to grab him and luckily, he didn’t drown. Sherman laughed about it later and made a big joke of it.  Sherman really loved the local people and endlessly signed autographs.” 

After filming wrapped up, Sherman asked Talisman to serve as a bodyguard on a visit to Maui. But life with Hemsley is not complete without laughter.

“He insisted on us going to the top of Mt. Haleakala to see the sunrise,” he said. “Sherman was a music fanatic!  OMG, we carried around this ‘ginormous’ boom box on which he insisted playing at full volume The Tubes’ ‘Once In A Lifetime’ all the way up to the top of the mountain at 6:15 a.m.  The other tourists started to complain until they realized the noise was coming from Sherman. They’d be screaming ‘Look, it’s George Jefferson!’”

Visitors competed for Hemsley’s autograph and photos together, and natch, he complied.

“That trip turned out to be a real adventure and a lot of fun. God rest Sherman’s soul, who is now in heaven with pretty much the rest of the cast.”

One survivor of the acting ensemble is Marla Gibbs, now 90, who played Florence, the maid to the Jeffersons. Talisman also wrote the theme song for spin-off series, “Checking In,” but it didn’t survive more than four episodes “which left a big dent in my ASCAP check,” he said. …

Open heart surgery for Benoit

Phil Benoit, the Maui-based jazz musician, is recovering from a sextuple open heart surgery.

“That’s right, six way,” said Benoit via email.

Phil Benoit

He had recurring shortness of breath and some chest pain, signaling potential problems under the hood, so to speak, and following a series of tests, “the red flags flew and they went and saved me. I should have had a heart attack already. I am lucky, I guess.”

He’s on the mend at home and enormously grateful of wife Angela, who is “selfless taking care of me. I love her more than I can express.”

The recovery process has been shaky. “I’ve been up and down and so I haven’t communicated much or accepted visitors,” said Benoit. “I’m feeling much better every day.”

Prayers, calls and communication from pals have mattered. “It counts, it all counts,” he said, so he’s eternally grateful. And now ready to connect with folks.

The Benoits are the gatekeepers of Benoit Jazz Works.

Incredibly, Phil said his brother Dan suffered an emergency appendectomy on the same day of his surgery. “Can you believe it?,” said Phil. “He is healing well and has been a great friend to me.” …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …