Don Ho’s Final Chapter
The legendary Don Ho died on April 14, 2007 at the age of 76 after more than four decades in show business, Don Ho will be long remembered for his humor and his dulcet interpretations of the Hawaiian songs that made him Waikiki‘s top entertainer for a generation. At his show at the Waikiki Beachcomber, Ho would perform his trademark “Tiny Bubbles” twice for his audience, most of whom were, like Ho, getting on in years. “I sing it at the beginning,” he told them, “in case some of you don’t make it to the end of the show.”
Everyone laughed, as Ho paused for effect. “And then I sing it at the end,” he teased, “because the rest of you might forget I already sang it.”
That was Don Ho, the consummate entertainer. His blend of gentle humor, charm and vocal talents helped him mesmerize audiences since the early 1960s, after he bought a Kaneohe cocktail lounge and started his own band. “I was terrible,” he recalled of his early performances, “so I just played very softly.”
From the beginning
Donald Tai Loy Ho was born on August 13, 1930 in Honolulu and grew up in Windward Oahu. He spent a year at Springfield College in Massachusetts before returning home and earning a bachelor’s of science degree at the University of Hawaii. In 1954, Ho entered the U.S. Air Force and flew fighter jets in both Texas and Hawaii. He left the Air Force in 1960 to tend to his ailing mother.
After starting his band, Ho began to improve and hone his musical image. He began playing shows in Waikiki, and his popularity soared. Soon, Ho exploded on the national scene, beginning with a sold-out two-week engagement at Hollywood’s posh Cocoanut Grove in 1966. His opening-night performance broke all previous attendance records.
Then came the hit records. In 1967, Ho’s “Tiny Bubbles” reached No. 8 on the Billboard charts. Other popular tunes recorded by Ho are “I’ll Remember You,” “Pearly Shells,” “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” “Hanalei Moon” and “Kanaka Wai Wai.”
In the mid-1970s, Ho hosted his own variety show on the ABC network. His TV r?©sum?© also includes appearances on “The Brady Bunch,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Batman” and “I Dream of Jeannie.” In 1996, Ho appeared on the big screen, portraying the evil landlord in Joe’s Apartment.
Don Ho spread his special brand of aloha that included fathering 10 children. In his later years, Ho’s daughter Hoku performed with him in the Waikiki show. Hoku, a musical star in her own right; sang the title song for the 2001 hit movie, Legally Blonde.