Wed, 26 November 2014
By now, if you have read any or all of the previous four articles in this series on Benny Kalama’s years with Hawaii Calls, you likely concur with me that Tony Todaro’s comments about the man in The Golden Years of Hawaiian Entertainment are not hyperbole after all. Kalama lives up to every facet and dimension of the legend that he has become.
And if you listened to the first article in this series, you heard Benny perform a novelty tune that became forever associated with him (much in the same way that “No Huhu” became eternally associated with Barney Isaacs). Despite being of Hawaiian-Portuguese descent, Benny went at the medley of the traditional Scottish folk song “The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” and Sol K. Bright’s “Hawaiian Scotsman” with verve, gusto, and his finest Scottish brogue. For Hawaii Calls radio audiences, this medley became one of his most famous and well-loved performances. So imagine what it must have been like to actually watch the very animated and comical Kalama perform the song live? Well, we don’t have to imagine because just such a performance was captured at least one time – and once is all we need to remember – for the television version of Hawaii Calls which aired a too short 26 episodes during the 1965-66 season.
Although I rarely find myself at a loss for words, for now there is nothing more I can think to say that Benny doesn’t say for himself with this performance. He exuded talent, humor (which fellow cast members have gone on record as saying was most genuine, both on stage and off), and aloha that we can actually hear and – now – see. We will hear from Benny a few more times as we approach the final era of Hawaii Calls in the 1970s. And Ho`olohe Hou will doubly honor Benny Kalama again next June when we celebrate both his birthday and the 80th anniversary of the launch of the Hawaii Calls radio program.
I hope you have enjoyed these rare performances by Benny Kalama as much as I have enjoyed sharing them with you.
Next time: More of the gentlemen of Hawaii Calls in the 1960s…