Danny Kaleikini

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Danny Kaleikini
Kaleikini in 2005
Kaleikini in 2005
Background information
Born (1937-10-10) October 10, 1937 (age 85)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)Singer, entertainer, recording artist, entrepreneur, philanthropist

Danny "Kaniela" Kaleikini (born October 10, 1937)[1] is an American singer, musical artist, and entertainer. Best known for his long-term residency at the Kahala Hilton in Hawaii, where he performed for 28 years, Kaleikini is often called "The Ambassador of Aloha". During his career of more than 50 years in show business, he was the opening act for Paul Anka at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas,[2] and performed alongside Sammy Davis Jr., Wayne Newton, Dolly Parton, Phyllis McGuire, and Don Ho.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Kaleikini grew up in Papakolea in Honolulu.[4] He was one of eight children.[5] He is of native Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean, Irish, and Italian descent.[4] His father, Danny Kaleikini Sr., was in the Hawaii National Guard,[6] and worked for the City and County of Honolulu as a refuse worker.[4][7] His mother Margie worked as a cocktail waitress at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.[6][7] Kaleikini is bilingual in English and Hawaiian, and grew up learning to speak the Hawaiian language from his mother and grandmother.[8]

At the age of five, he earned money by selling copies of The Honolulu Advertiser with his brother.[5][7] On Fridays, after shining shoes in Chinatown, Kaleikini and his brother went to jam sessions with Jesse Kalima and Thousand Pounds of Melody, where they learned to sing and perform.[9][3]

Kaleikini went to Royal Elementary School, where he played in the bell choir.[10] As a student at Kawananakoa Intermediate, he played the trumpet and drums,[10] and was elected student body president after running against Robert Kihune and others.[7] Kaleikini attended Roosevelt High School,[4] where he sang in the choir and performed in a 16-piece orchestra.[7] His high school classmates included Ron Jacobs and Wesley Park, who later became his business manager.[7] He attended the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa on a music scholarship,[4] and majored in music education.[11]

Career[edit]

During his freshman year at University of Hawaiʻi, Kaleikini had a part-time job at the Waikiki Sands.[10][6] At the Sands, he was discovered by bandleader Ray Kinney, who encouraged him to sing for tips while working as a busboy.[6][12] Kinney became a mentor to Kaleikini, who also learned from entertainer Leinaala Ignacio.[6][9][13] After six months, Kaleikini moved with Kinney to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.[10]

Hilton Hawaiian Village[edit]

Kaleikini's first major break was at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where he performed for seven years.[10][3] There, he was mentored by Hilo Hattie, who taught him to emcee in standard English rather than in Pidgin.[6] He started working in the luau shows, and eventually became the headliner at the Tapa Room after the death of Alfred Apaka,[9] performing together with hula dancer and singer Lani Custino.[14] In July 1961, a review in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin called Kaleikini "a charming shaker" who "has the correct shakes as he shows his versatility in doing the Hawaiian and Tahitian hulas."[14]

Residency at the Kahala Hilton[edit]

Kahala Hilton in 1988

In 1967, Kaleikini landed his show as the headline entertainer at the Hala Terrace at the Kahala Hilton, the first successful show outside Waikiki.[3] His first five-year contract, negotiated by his manager Wesley Park, guaranteed income of $1.5 million.[7] Over time, it became a "must-see" show attended by United States presidents, foreign dignitaries, and Hollywood celebrities.[9] Kaleikini continued the residency at the Kahala Hilton for 28 years.[8]

The show opened on April 26, 1967,[11] and was twice nightly except for Tuesdays.[10] In addition to Kaleikini, it featured a female vocalist, Penny Silva, three dancers, and five musicians led by Jimmy Kaopuiki.[10] At first, Kahala was virtually unknown as a destination for tourists or for locals.[7][6] Kaleikini was actively involved in promoting the show, taking a hula dancer and a ukulele player to Waikiki to perform songs during the day to build interest.[6]

View from Kahala Hilton (1989)

A review in 1971 called it a "family show" with friendly and "clean" jokes that "would not make it in Waikiki".[4] The show highlighted the cultures of both Hawaii and Tahiti.[4] Kaleikini sang and danced with the moonlit Pacific Ocean as his backdrop, and mingled, and joked with the audience, calling on his friends to perform.[4] A "comic linguist",[15] Kaleikini typically opened the show with a multi-lingual greeting,[7] and spoke Japanese to the Japanese tourists.[4] He also played the Hawaiian nose flute.[16][8] Billboard magazine reported that Kaleikini performed eight tunes during an hour set, including traditional Hawaiian songs and "songs of Hawaii" written by pop artists, with hints of country music.[17] The show's success was often attributed to Kaleikini's warmth and ability to charm the audience.[16] By 1972, it was known as the "best-drawing Hawaiian show in the islands".[18] Over the years, the show became more "international" in flavor, in response to more diverse audiences from around the world.[17]

By 1974, he had the longest-running mainroom revue, having started his eighth year in the same locale.[19] Over 10,000 performances later, on April 27, 1987, Kaleikini celebrated his 20th anniversary at the Hilton with a two-hour show.[20] In 1988, Governor John Waihee officially declared Danny Kaleikini as "Hawaii's Ambassador of Aloha".[1]

Kaleikini retired from the Kahala Hilton on December 31, 1994,[8] when the hotel was sold.[9] His long run at the Hala Terrace of the Kahala Hilton earned him a nomination in the Guinness Book of World Records.[8][21] In 2022, the Kahala Hotel & Resort honored him by renaming its front drive to Danny Kaleikini Square.[22]

Performances in Japan[edit]

Over the course of his career, Kaleikini became a frequent visitor to Japan and learned to speak Japanese.[9] In 1970, he was asked by Governor John A. Burns to attend Expo '70, the world's fair held in Osaka, Japan, to check out the Hawaii Pavilion and coach the performers.[23] His visit to the Expo, accompanied by the popular Hawaiian sumo wrestler Jesse "Takamiyama" Kuhaulua, helped to raise his profile and led to subsequent engagements in Japan.[6]

In April 1973, Kaleikini was invited to the second annual Tokyo Music Festival to compete with singers from around the world,[24] including Olivia Newton-John.[7] Kaleikini sang "My Goddess of Love" by Charles "Bud" Dant and won the TBS Award.[24][1]

Shows in the mainland United States[edit]

On June 21, 1973, Kaleikini had his Las Vegas debut at the 1,000-seat Caesars Palace showroom, opening for Paul Anka during a two-week engagement.[25][26] His first show was attended by an estimated 400 people from Hawaii,[26] and broadcast by one-hour satellite delay on KHON-TV in Honolulu.[25] The following year, he was invited back to Caesars Palace for a one-week engagement as the co-headliner with Phyllis McGuire, one of the McGuire Sisters.[27] In December 1988, Harrah's Reno in Nevada featured "Danny Kaleikini's Hawaiian Christmas", a one-week engagement at the Headliner Room.[28]

Radio and TV[edit]

In the 1960s, Kaleikini had a radio show on KHVH on Saturday afternoons from 1 pm to 5 pm.[10] In the 1970s, he became a regular on Webley Edwards's Hawaii Calls radio show, a showcase for professional musicians, once considered the most widely known Hawaiian music radio program worldwide.[29] After Edwards had a heart attack in 1972, the show was taken over by new management, and Kaleikini was hired by Bud Dant as the permanent host.[29][30] Kaleikini became a 20-percent owner of the show, which struggled to obtain sponsorship in its final years, and Hawaii Calls aired for the last time on August 16, 1975.[29]

In 1970, he became the host of Danny Kaleikini Theater on KHON-TV, which aired on Saturdays at 11 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm.[31][18] Each week, he presented a feature film, with three pre-recorded segments where Kaleikini showed unique spots in Hawaii.[31]

Business[edit]

In the 1960s, the Kaleikinis had two bikini shops in Waikiki – one on Seaside Avenue and the other inside the Hilton Hawaiian Village.[10] The shops featured Polynesian wear for men and women under the "Danny Kaleikini" label, and were operated by his wife, Jacqueline, who was originally from Tahiti.[18] They eventually expanded to five shops.[32]

An avid golfer, Kaleikini, won the inaugural Tahiti Open in 1982.[7] He was the official greeter of the Hawaiian Open Golf Tournament for many years starting in 1972.[33] He also hosted his own annual Danny Kaleikini golf tournament in Hawaii and in Japan.[16] He has served on the board of directors for companies including Aloha Petroleum and Servco Pacific and Financial, and numerous nonprofit organizations, such as the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, the Honolulu Boy Choir, Hui Waʻa Surfing Association, Kamehameha Schools, and Waialae Country Club.[16]

Philanthropy[edit]

Kaleikini singing the national anthem and "Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī" in 2013

In 1983, he established the non-profit Danny Kaleikini Foundation, and serves as president.[3] The foundation has given over $400,000 in donations to date, helping local organizations provide services to the community.[3] He has also endowed the Danny Kaleikini scholarship at the University of Hawaii.[8]

Kaleikini has been closely involved in the restoration and preservation of Kahaluu Fish Pond.[1]

Politics[edit]

In 1994, former Honolulu mayor Frank Fasi chose Kaleikini as his running mate when he ran for governor. Fasi formed a short-lived independent party called the Best Party, after a political career during which he had run and served as both a Democrat and a Republican mayor in Hawaii. In their campaign, Fasi and Kaleikini promised to "give government back to the people" and cut income taxes.[34]

Kaleikini was considered a popular but unconventional choice for lieutenant governor.[34] He had long-standing connections to "politicos" in Honolulu, where he was known as a "straight shooter".[19] During the 1994 campaign, he was praised for helping to "smooth" Fasi's "notorious bluntness", but critics worried about Kaleikini's lack of political experience and his readiness to assume the office of governor in the event of an emergency.[34] Based on the candidates' financial disclosure forms, Kaleikini was found to be the wealthiest among the six candidates running for governor and lieutenant governor.[35]

After spending close to $4 million on the gubernatorial campaign, Fasi and Kaleikini finished second in the election, with 31 percent of the vote.[34] They finished ahead of Republican candidates Pat Saiki and Fred Hemmings, but were 6 percent behind Democrats Ben Cayetano and Mazie Hirono.[34]

Recordings[edit]

Kaleikini had his own recording company, DK Records.[16] In 1993, producer Michael Cord released Danny Kaleikini: Hawaii's Ambassador of Aloha, a double-length disc of 24 songs recorded by Kaleikini in the 1970s.[36]

In 2015, Danny Kaleikini and his grandson Nicholas Kaleikini recorded and released Aloooha, an album of five songs including Hawaiian and pop standards with American jazz and pop arrangements.[37] The EP was well-received by critics, with John Berger of Honolulu Star-Advertiser saying that "Danny's voice is as strong and operatic as ever."[38]

In 2017, the Kaleikinis recorded and released Mahaaalo, which introduced three original songs, including "Aloha" which was written by Danny and sung in Hawaiian, and "Ku'uipo", a love song which Danny and Nicholas wrote together.[37] It was a first for Danny Kaleikini, who like Frank Sinatra and Alfred Apaka, was best known for his covers rather than as a songwriter.[37]

Personal life and family[edit]

Kaleikini married Jacqueline Wong of Tahiti, with whom he had two children – a daughter named Keikilani and a son named Danjacques.[18] Both children performed with their father from the age of two.[18] On Thanksgiving Day 1992, Danjacques Kaleikini died of complications from pneumonia at the age of 29.[39]

Awards and honors[edit]

Danny Kaleikini has received numerous awards and honors during his lifetime, including:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Mr. Danny Kaleikini". Consular Corps of Hawaii. Archived from the original on August 31, 2022. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  2. ^ Donnelly, Dave (June 22, 1973). "Dave Donnelly's Hawaii". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. A4. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Our story". Danny & Nicholas Kaleikini. Archived from the original on August 31, 2022. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ash, Leonard D. (March 2, 1971). "The Polynesia Spirit". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. III-11. Archived from the original on September 1, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b Lee, Anne (January 9, 2022). "Kau kau with the Ambassador of Aloha". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Archived from the original on September 1, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sigall, Bob (July 22, 2016). "Kaleikini makes way in world thanks to wonders of music". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. p. B3. Archived from the original on September 1, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Wilcox, Leslie (October 25, 2010). "Danny Kaleikini, The Early Years – Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox". PBS Hawaiʻi. Archived from the original on November 13, 2017. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Berger, John (December 13, 1994). "Pau hana time for Danny Kaleikini". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. pp. B1, B5. Archived from the original on September 1, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Wilcox, Leslie (November 2, 2010). "Danny Kaleikini, The Ambassador of Aloha – Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox – Part 2". PBS Hawaiʻi. Archived from the original on September 1, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wood, Ben (April 25, 1967). "The 'new' and 'old' Hawaii". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. B6. Archived from the original on September 1, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ a b "A Living Legend". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. April 26, 1987. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Sigall, Bob (April 22, 2022). "Readers dish up memories of ono restaurants". West Hawaii Today. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. p. B6. Archived from the original on September 5, 2022. Retrieved September 5, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "The HONOLULU 100 – George Helm Jr. to Eddie Kamae". Honolulu Magazine. November 1, 2005. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
  14. ^ a b "A Charming Shaker". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. July 26, 1961. p. 54. Archived from the original on September 2, 2022. Retrieved September 2, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ Sheehan, Ed (1990). The Kahala: The Hotel That Could Only Happen Once. Honolulu: Kahala Hilton. pp. 18–19, 44–46. ISBN 9780962816703.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Entertainment – Danny Kaleikini". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. February 19, 1985. p. III-15. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ a b "For Some Acts, Honolulu Really Is Home; For Others The Outside World Beckons". Billboard. May 8, 1976. pp. 28, 35.
  18. ^ a b c d e Wood, Ben (March 29, 1972). "Night Life Hawaii Style". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on September 5, 2022. Retrieved September 5, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ a b Harada, Wayne (June 26, 1974). "Switcheroo: A toast to Danny". The Honolulu Advertiser. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ Harada, Wayne (April 29, 1987). "Kaleikini's tradition of quality continues". The Honolulu Advertiser. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ Schaefers, Allison (August 1, 2014). "KAHALA: Resorttrust might run property as a time share". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. pp. B1, B2. Archived from the original on September 9, 2022. Retrieved September 9, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ Lee, Anne (January 9, 2022). "Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Plumeria Beach House". DiningOut. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
  23. ^ Armstrong, Dianne (June 16, 1970). "Aloha Coming Through at Expo Show". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. C20. Archived from the original on September 2, 2022. Retrieved September 2, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ a b Harada, Wayne (December 31, 1973). "What a Show Biz year it was..." The Honolulu Advertiser. p. B5. Archived from the original on September 2, 2022. Retrieved September 2, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ a b Harada, Wayne (June 21, 1973). "Live-from-Vegas special marks Kaleikini's Vegas debut tonight". The Honolulu Advertiser. p. C6. Archived from the original on September 10, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ a b Wood, Ben (June 27, 1973). "Night Life Hawaii Style". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ "New teaming at Caesars". The Los Angeles Times. June 20, 1974. p. IV-14. Archived from the original on September 10, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ Shields, Mel (December 11, 1988). "A touch of Hawaiian tradition comes to Harrah's". The Sacramento Bee. p. Encore 27. Archived from the original on September 10, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ a b c Kanahele, George S. (1979). Hawaiian Music and Musicians An Illustrated History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. pp. 109, 111–114. ISBN 9780824805784.
  30. ^ "Four Spearhead Hawaiian Islands' Activity". Billboard. Vol. 85, no. 49. December 8, 1973. p. 67. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022 – via Google Books.
  31. ^ a b Wood, Ben (February 7, 1970). "Danny Kaleikini to Share his Hawaii with TV Viewers". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. B-4. Archived from the original on September 10, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  32. ^ Wheeler, Linda Andrade (2005). Aloha the Spirit Within You. Honolulu, Hawaii: Poʻokela Publishing. p. 107.
  33. ^ "Golf Greeter Kaleikini Loves the Game". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. February 7, 1988. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  34. ^ a b c d e Collet, Christian (2000). "Best Party 1994". In Ness, Immanuel; Ciment, James (eds.). Encyclopedia of Third Parties in America. Armonk, New York: Sharpe Reference. pp. 182–184. ISBN 0-7656-8020-3.
  35. ^ Dooley, James (September 29, 1994). "Kaleikini tops list of candidate disclosure list". The Honolulu Advertiser. p. A5. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  36. ^ Berger, John (January 10, 1993). "Danny Kaleikini rerelease full of aloha". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved September 28, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  37. ^ a b c Berger, John (January 19, 2017). "Kaleikinis venture into songwriting". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  38. ^ Berger, John (May 5, 2016). "Kaleikini records new album with grandson". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  39. ^ Engle, Murry (November 28, 1992). "Danny Kaleikini's son Danjacques is dead at age 29". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. A8. Archived from the original on September 2, 2022. Retrieved September 2, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  40. ^ "Honorees". Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on September 1, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
  41. ^ "Honorary degrees conferred by the University of Hawai'i". University of Hawai'i. Archived from the original on August 31, 2022. Retrieved August 31, 2022.

External links[edit]