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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Don Ho experience

 •  Don Ho dies

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Staff Writer

Ho with Saki in "Kraft Music Hall Presents: The Don Ho Fourth of July Special," which aired July 2, 1976.

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Don Ho recorded several Hawai'i-linked songs that received national renown.

"Tiny Bubbles," released in 1966, was his signature tune, and most well-known hit. He performed it for a national audience in 2005 during the Pro Bowl halftime show, alongside "American Idol" also-ran Jasmine Trias.

A handful of tunes penned by Kui Lee, a local singer and composer, also were '60s favorites, helping launch Ho's career and giving him credence as a recording act. They include "I'll Remember You," "Lahainaluna," "One Paddle, Two Paddle," "She's Gone Again" and "If I Had to Do It All Over Again."

In 1978, Ho recorded a novelty song that became a local hit, heard often on Island radio stations: "Who Is the Lolo (Who Stole My Pakalolo?)." And in 2002, displaying his sense of humor, he recorded a cover version of Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey" for a compilation CD, "When Pigs Fly." The track was turned into an animated music video.

Over the years, many of the performer's sing-along party songs have been popular, too, including "Pearly Shells (Pupu A'o 'Ewa)," "E Lei Ka Lei Lei" and "By the Shack, by the Sea."

Ho recorded a Christmas album, on which his bilingual "Silent Night (Po La'i E)," sung in English and in Hawaiian, emerged as a holiday trademark.

Among his notable albums:

  • "The Don Ho Show Live From Hawaii" (Reprise)

  • "East Coast/West Coast" (Reprise)

  • "Hawaii Ho!" (Reprise)

  • "Home in the Country" (Mega)

  • "Tiny Bubbles" (Reprise)

  • "I Think About You" (Ho Enterprises)

  • "Live at the Polynesian Palace" (Reprise)

  • "Suck 'em Up" (Reprise)

  • "You're Gonna Hear From Me" (Reprise)

  • "Instant Happy" (Reprise).

  • "The Don Ho Christmas Album" (Reprise)

  • "Hawaii Right Now! Don Ho Presents The Ali'is" (Reprise)

  • "Don Ho's Greatest Hits" (Reprise)


  • Though he made "Suck 'em Up" a household toast, he was bleeped out the first time he uttered these words on Johnny Carson's "Tonight" show, in 1972. At the time, it was deemed too risque.

  • He hated being photographed in profile.

  • He was a handyman. "I love fixing up my house ... with the help of a contractor," he once said.

  • He loved to golf, and hung out at the Ko'olau Golf Course (he had a 22 handicap). "Golf is something you'll never conquer; it's something to be challenged," he said.

  • He loved soybeans and recommended them widely in his later life. "Good for you and your health," he said.

  • He was hard of hearing: "I tried a hearing aid, but I hated it."

  • His name commonly pops up in crossword puzzle clubs: "Hawaiian entertainer (five letters)."

  • He took a daily power nap. "Twenty minutes gets you going again," he said. "It works for animals."

  • His image as Hawai'i's tippling Dean Martin was toned down after the '90s. In his earlier days, he routinely sipped Chivas Regal on stage. In later years, it was water or pineapple juice.

  • He was the only Waikiki performer who regularly used a teleprompter, which displayed his song lyrics.

    Wayne Harada

    ON TV


    Don Ho starred in a short-lived Hawai'i-based TV show on ABC, in 1976-77, which was taped at the Outrigger Reef Hotel's Ocean Lanai.

    But he guested on dozens of series, specials and films over the years. Among his credits:

  • "Hawaiian Eye" (ABC), 1963

  • "Shindig" (ABC), 1965 (two appearances, played himself)

  • "Batman" (ABC), 1966 (played himself)

  • "I Dream of Jeannie" (NBC), 1967 (played himself)

  • "Hollywood Palace" (ABC), 1967 (two appearances), 1968

  • "Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" (CBS), 1969

  • "Kraft Music Hall" (NBC), 1969 (seven appearances, including three as host)

  • "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" (NBC), 1970 (two appearances)

  • A Tom Jones special (syndicated), 1971

  • "Tonight" show (NBC), 1971 (first of several appearances)

  • The Bob Hope Show (NBC), 1972

  • "The Brady Bunch" (ABC), 1972 (played himself). The Bradys' encounter with Don Ho was seared into the memory of many a baby boomer.

  • "The Wonderful World of Disney" (NBC), 1973 (narrator)

  • "McCloud" (NBC), 1974

  • "Celebration: The American Spirit" (ABC), 1976

  • "Perry Como's Hawaiian Holiday" (NBC), 1976

  • "Sanford and Son," 1976 (played himself)

  • "Charlie's Angels" (ABC), 1977 (played himself)

  • "Fantasy Island" (ABC), 1979 (played himself)

  • "CBS All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade" (CBS), 1980

  • "Life Goes On" (ABC), 1990 (played himself)

  • "TV Nation: Year in Review" (NBC), 1994

  • "Conan O'Brien Show" (NBC), 1995

  • "Live! With Regis and Kathy" (syndicated), 1995

  • "One West Waikiki" (CBS), 1996 (played himself)

  • "Joe's Apartment" film, 1996; Don Ho played an evil landlord in this short comic film about a New York apartment astoundingly overrun with cockroaches; it earned him a new spate of admiration with young viewers

  • "98 Degrees and Hoku in Concert," TV special with daughter Hoku, 2000

  • "The Brady Bunch Cast Back in Hawai'i," DVD-video release, 2005

    Ho has been featured on many other TV shows in more recent times, including "Grand Ole Opry," on E! Entertainment; "The Nick Cannon Show," on Nickelodeon; "Insomniac with Dave Attell," on Comedy Central; "Follow That Food with Gordon Elliott," on the Food Network; "Home Matters," on the Discovery Channel; "The Tourist," on the Travel Channel; and the "Great American History Quiz," on the History Channel.

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.