Friday, July 23, 2010


On August 21st, Hawaii celebrates it's 51st Anniversary of Statehood. I'd like to dedicate today's blog to some of my favorite Hawaiian things (I probably should wait a month to post this, but patience isn't one of my strengths)...

Hawaiian Shirts aka Aloha Shirts
Originating in Hawaii in the 1930's, the popularity of these brightly patterned Rayon beauties grew over the next decade peaking in the 1950's. I'm proud to say I own more than a few (what can I say, I'm a retro kind of guy) and my collection continues to grow thanks to the help of my indulgent wife Kim, who scours vintage clothing stores and thrift shops for me. Sad to say, I don't own any of the real vintage ones; I've seen shirts from the 30's -50's command prices ranging from $200-$500 and even higher. That's Elvis wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and playing the Ukulele in his 1961 musical Blue Hawaii.

Speaking of ukuleles - this magical musical instrument is actually Portuguese in origin. Legend has it that three Portuguese cabinet makers from Madeira introduced to instrument to Hawaii in the late 1800's. The Hawaiian royal family was so taken with the instrument that it was soon incorporated into musical performances at royal gatherings. It's popularity spread and it was soon identified with Hawaiian Music. Pictured below are two 20th Century performers who were known for their ukulele strumming Arthur Godfrey (left) and Tiny Tim (right).

Ukulele Fun Fact: Because of the way fingers dance over the strings while strumming the instrument, Hawaiians named it Ukulele which means "dancing flea".

Magnum, PI
I have to admit that I like this classic detective show a lot. In fact the only downside to it is that it was made in the 1980's and one must put up with 80's Hair and Clothing (or is that part of it's charm?). One other thing - was there a rule that Tom Selleck had to appear in a pair of tight, ball-hugging short-shorts at least once every episode?

Magnum, PI Fun Fact:During it's first season, Magnum aired Thursday nights at 9:00 - a time slot once occupied by CBS's other Hawaiian based crime drama, Hawaii Five-0. Which brings us to our next entry...

Hawaii Five-0
"Book 'em Dano!" Long-running TV Crime Drama starring Jack Lord as Steve McGarret, the head of the fictional Hawaii State Police (the Five-0 comes from Hawaii's status as the 50th State - I didn't know that until today!). The highlight of the show has to be the kick-ass theme song; easily one of the top 5 TV theme songs of all time. Here, check it out for yourself.

Jack Lord Fun Fact #1 - he was the first actor to portray CIA Agent Felix Leiter (in the seminal Bond film Doctor No)

Jack Lord Fun Fact #2 - he was in the running for the role of Captain James Kirk on Star Trek, but reportedly his demands were unacceptable (he wanted a percentage of ownership in the series as well as a co-producer role). The part went to Bill Shatner and the rest is history).

The Brady Bunch Hawaiian Vacation
Greg surfing; Alice Hula-ing; Tiki curses; Don Ho and Vincent Price! What's not to love about this special three-part episode from season four?

My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii
Written in 1933 and first introduced at the Kona Canoe Races on July 4 of that year, this song became a novelty hit and has been recorded numerous times over the years. Here's a 1934 version performed by Freddie Rich and His Orchestra, featuring Vera Van and the Elton Boys (none of whom appear the least bit Hawaiian...)


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