Hawaii Calls – Benny Sings for the Hula

When writing about the short-lived Hawaii Calls radio show previously, I mentioned that that one of the curiosities of the TV version of Hawaii Calls (which ran during the 1965-66 season) was that Webley Edwards frequently featured performers on the TV show who never appeared on the radio program previously, and this sacrificed precious airtime for some radio show regulars who rarely appeared on the TV version of the show. Such was the case with Benny Kalama whose disembodied voice made many an appearance on the program – usually accompanying a lovely hula number – but whose face only appeared once in 26 episodes. Here is one of those performances. 

I have also mentioned here that the radio version of Hawaii Calls at times suffered from a somewhat limited music library – making the show a bit repetitive for those astute enough to recognize that they were hearing the same song over and over again every few weeks. So I have versions of “Miloli`i” from the radio show by Nina  Keali`iwahamana, Jimmy Kaopuiki, and Benny Kalama. But Benny was the only cast member to be “honored” by performing the song for the TV version of the program. The song relates composer John Makuakane’s travels from one island to another – including a quick pit stop on the mainland – and the unusual sights he encounters along the way. In Miloli`i (a town on the island of Hawai`i, south of Kailua-Kona and not far from Kealakekua – the town spoken of in “I Want To Go Back To My Little Grass Shack” –  or Honaunau – in ancient times a place of refuge during war), a most stubborn donkey. In Waikiki, an elephant (a reference to Daisy, the pachyderm resident of the Honolulu Zoo in the 1930s). In San Francisco, a jet airplane. Of course! How else would he get home? Perhaps on the steamer ship he saw in Honolulu. The hula is performed here by Gloria Beck and Kahili Del Costillo. 

Despite being performed by many stars of Hawaii Calls, this would hereafter remain Benny’s song as he recorded it the same year as part of Webley Edwards’ recording contract with Capitol Records on the cast’s 17th studio album, Waikiki After Dark. 

Next time: A hana hou from the disembodied voice of Benny Kalama for the Hawaii Calls TV show... 


Since the song written in her honor has been heard twice now on Ho`olohe Hou, the picture here is of Daisy the Elephant in the company of an ardent fan at the Honolulu Zoo circa. 1900. 


Trivia: Daisy suffered a horrible fate. Does anyone remember what happened? (Difficulty Rating: Medium if you were old enough to be there. Easy if you have Google.)


Direct download: Benny_Kalama_-_Milolii.m4v
Category:50s and 60s -- posted at: 10:13pm EDT