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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 6, 2010

The boldface and the beautiful


By Wayne Harada

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A young Wayne Harada, right, interviewed Jack Lord on the set of "Hawaii Five-0." Harada has covered show biz for almost 50 years.

Advertiser library photo

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It's revelation and reflection time: Who's been having more fun, you or me?

Moi, I think.

Though I formally retired from The Advertiser in December 2008, logging 44 1/4 years full-time (with a prequel of about five years, since I was writing for this paper from my high school days through college), I have always found joy and fascination in daily deadlines and racing to get The Story. Or The Column. And so far, Show Biz goes on.

Most of you will link me to Show Biz, my column. If you've been following me, you'll remember (or want to forget) the changes over time: young lad, short hair, chubby face, wavy hair, no eyeglasses, eyeglasses, oldster, gray hair. It's evolution, my friends.

How many columns, you ask? Over four decades, Show Biz appeared twice a week, then three times a week, daily (weekdays) for a brief time, and now, once a week. So who's counting? Impossible. Thousands, perhaps.

How many bold-faced names? Impossible again to gauge. More than several thousand?

There have been beaucoup local stars, Mainland stars, everyday people. That's been the premise of doing the column; acknowledging people you know, getting to know the ones you didn't. Lee Cataluna, my prolific Advertiser colleague and playwright, immortalized the column (and a wee bit of me, too), in her Diamond Head Theatre musical with Keola Beamer, "You Somebody," about a star-crazed mom who wants to be "Harada-fied" see her name in the column, in bold-faced type. ...

In the process, I've been on a joy ride.

Folks I've enjoyed and now miss: Don Ho, Hilo Hattie, Gabby Pahinui, Auntie Genoa Keawe, Pat Morita, Rap Reiplinger, Jack Lord, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Loyal Garner, Liz Hudson, Arlene Tanaka, Tommy Aguilar, Lisa Josephsohn. And Aku (Hal Lewis).

Favorite interviews? Pick any of the following: Harrison Ford, Woody Allen, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Sylvester Stallone, Elvis Presley, Carol Channing. And interviewees who became friends: Richard Jay-Alexander, Charo, Paul Anka, Wayne Newton, David Copperfield, Rip Taylor, Craig Schulman, Cris Groenendaal, Kevin Gray, Kevin McCollum.

Thrills? My first byline, in 1957, when I wrote a Farrington High careers day story after a visit to the paper; my first Page One byline, a 1959 interview with teen idol Frankie Lymon; and a mind-blower my entire review of The Monkees' first-ever live concert at Blaisdell Arena in 1966 was picked for a double-truck advertisement in Variety.

Chicken skin? Seeing local troupers earn accolades: Dean Pitchford picking up an Oscar ("Fame") in 1980; Leilani Jones' Tony (Featured Actress in a Musical, "Grind") in 1985; Loretta Ables Sayre's Broadway debut in "South Pacific," and a Tony nomination (Featured Actress in a Musical, 2008); Jason Tam as Paul in "A Chorus Line" in 2006. It was unforgettable when Charles Michael Brotman won the first Hawaiian Grammy for "Slack Key Guitar, Vol. 2" in 2005, and I was there when Jasmine Trias triggered an avalanche of local phone calls to "American Idol" for her 2004 bid. And Bette Midler everything she tackles creates lift-off.

The good people I've met through the column are the reason for it all. You read about 'em here, in The Honolulu Advertiser.

Reach Wayne Harada at 266-0926 or wayneharada@gmail.com.