Ho biography noteworthy because it's his telling
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Wayne Harada
Books about Don Ho have been attempted before, but each fizzled — largely because Ho, despite his public persona, zealously guarded his private life.
So, the arrival of "Don Ho: My Music, My Life," is a noteworthy development. Ho actively participated in — and approved — its development, and it arrives just eight months after the entertainer's death.
Jerry Hopkins, who is no stranger to writing about celebrity or Hawai'i — he's authored books about Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison of The Doors and Hawai'i promoter/deejay Tom Moffatt — assembles transcripts of interviews with Ho, comments from the singer's fans, 'ohana and intimate buddies, excerpts from newspaper articles and findings by others into what he describes as "Hawaiian quilt," using information and colorful anecdotes to piece together a portrait of the man often called "Mr. Waikiki" for his four-decade-long reign over the beachside Mecca's nightlife.
Authorship is attributed to Ho, with credit to Hopkins for assistance. And while Ho may not have seen actual galleys of the manuscript, the book flows like the entertainer is at the helm.
It is presented as an oral history, with voices provided by speakers whose names appear in boldface before each excerpt, and unfolds chronologically — tracing Ho's childhood, school era, military service, early years discovering himself at Honey's, his mom's Kane'ohe rendezvous, and show biz career.
The book glamorizes Ho's rise from local dude to international star, and includes photos from Ho's personal collection, as well as familiar imagery.
The chapters tell the tale: "The Pilot," "Honey's Boy," "Tiny Bubbles," "Kissing Grandmas," "Stem Cell Poster Boy."
Even those who've followed Ho's career are likely to find something new here. There's also plenty that's familiar, funny and sad.
You'll recognize the "Suck 'em Up" mai-tai glass that was the rage of his tenure at Duke Kahanamoku's. You'll chuckle over the Don Ho bubble machine and that bottle of bubbly that paid homage to his hit song. You'll recognize his failing health. And you'll relive the watery farewell, when hundreds bid him adieu.
You'll remember Ho in a way that he probably would approve.
Reach Wayne Harada at email@example.com.