Wednesday - December 28, 2005
GATHER ‘ROUND, FOLKS, here’s a little scoop: The time has come for me to say aloha to 3-dot journalism. Gonna retire. I’m leaving with enough memories to write a few books - and hope to do at least one. After much deliberation, the decision kinda snuck up on me. So, here’s my last column of the year - and career ... Why? Simple. I wanna do other things before my time runs out. Tackle different challenges. Oportunities have presented themselves. I’ve got a plateful of new da kine waiting ... It’s been quite a ride. Where else but in this profession would I have had a chance to meet giants from every walk of life. Even presidents -Ike Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy. But most important and, to me, the best people of all - Mr. & Mrs. Hawaii ... Just a few of the celebrity vignettes I’ll never forget: Fr’example: Legendary film director Mervyn LeRoy was in Hawaii on Maui making Devil At 4 O’Clock starring Frank Sinatra and Spencer Tracy. I was invited to LeRoy’s 60th b’day party at Kula Lodge way up on Mt. Haleakala. The aging lodge owners, Mr. & Mrs. James, were almost broke - struggling to make a go of their business. So I asked LeRoy if I could write about the special private party. I said the publicity possibly could help the couple. LeRoy refused. I pleaded. LeRoy finally shrugged, “Well, only if Sinatra OKs it.” When asked, Frank simply smiled, “Fine by me.” The newspaper column I wrote about all those stars partying at Kula lodge helped save the business ... Red Skelton, one of the all-time legendary comedians, was doing a one-man concert at the Waikiki Shell when after only 45 minutes he suddenly staggered off stage. From where I sat I could see into the wings of the Shell. Red was on the floor. Out cold. Milton Berle, another great comedian, was in the audience. He ran up on stage and ad-libbed for about 15 minutes. Suddenly Red appeared as if nothing happened and the show continued. Those of us backstage at first thought Red had a heart attack. He had fainted from the heat ...
Having breakfast one day at the Kahala Hilton with Leonard Freeman, writer, creator and producer of Hawaii Five-0, he suddenly said, “Wait here. I’m just gonna go next door (to an apartment building) and fire Jack Lord. He has meddled into my business for the last time. The new star of 5-0 will be Lloyd Bridges.” A half hour later Freeman returned. “What happened?” I asked. Lenny shook his head. “He begged and pleaded for another chance. Said he was sorry for what he did. What could I do? And, after all, he does a great job as McGarrett,” said Freeman. So much for my scoop ... A great career highlite was the worldwide Elvis TV concert from Blaisdell. I had started the Kui Lee Cancer Fund (thru my column) for a doctor at the UH doing cancer research. Lee was the legendary songwriter who died of cancer at 34. In the TV concert, Elvis sang Kui’s most famous tune- I’ll Remember You, to millions of global viewers. Thanks to Elvis and Col. Tom Parker, his manager, I received (for the fund) a check for $75,000 from the live concert gate. Because it was a television broadcast, there was no charge. The audience was allowed in via their own contributions. Some kids saw the show for only 10 cents. Next day, Elvis and the Colonel took out full-page newspaper ads thanking Hawaii ... A two-hour exclusive TV interview with Marlon Brando on Channel 9. He blasted Hollywood, especially those who produced his starring film, Mutiny On The Bounty. The whole thing could have been a national story. But the next day after the interview I went to the station to buy a copy of the TV show and was told some idiot had taped a commercial over the Brando interview. Unbelievable, but true ... Thank you for reading all these years ... Happy New Year - and aloha
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