The Strange Stories of Hollywood Filming in Hawai‘i
From plastic palm trees to on-set pranks, from fake languages to obstinate water buffalo, intrepid humor writer Charles Memminger uncovered the funniest, strangest tales of Island moviemaking.
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Sinatra Returns in Triumph
After having to beg for a part in From Here to Eternity, Sinatra made a heroic return to movie-making in Hawai‘i in 1961 in The Devil At 4 O’Clock. To create a French Polynesian port, the film used two plastic cannons (with plugged bowling balls as cannon balls), wind and lightning machines, 24 plastic palm trees, plastic outrigger canoes, 17,000 artificial flowers and a portable volcano. Why not shoot the movie at Newport Beach?
A Tall Order
While shooting Lord of the Flies on the Big Island in 1989, the director found a beautiful field of grass on the Hamakua Coast through which 10 or so boy actors would walk. But the grass was too tall and the boys too short. If the grass was cut, it would look weird, so the director sent out a call for body doubles between 6´4˝ and 6´7˝. Amazingly, within 48 hours they had found the tall “boys” they needed and shot the scene.
He was in one of his first film roles, played Kimo in Waikiki Wedding, in 1937.
She was Kiani in North Shore, in 1987.
Played Elvis’s Hawaiian love interest in 1961’s Blue Hawai‘i.
Portrayed Dr. Dean Kahana in 1963’s Diamond Head. In the same film, James Darren was cast as full-blooded Hawaiian Paul Kahana.
Was Lily Kilua in Ride the Wild Surf, in 1964.
Charles Memminger was a staff writer for Baywatch Hawai‘i. The show was canceled 15 weeks after he was hired. He thinks it was just a coincidence.