Continuing our look at Ed Kenney and his frequent appearances on the too short-lived Hawaii Calls TV program…
For those familiar with the Waikiki entertainment scene of the 1960s and 70s, you already well know that Ed Kenney was not always a solo artist. His most unusual duet partner, however, was not another singer but, rather, a hula dancer. Like Lani Custino, Beverly Noa is considered one of the finest purveyors of showroom hula in the history of local Hawai`i entertainment. Kenney must have thought so too because he made Ms. Noa his wife.
Together Kenney and Noa headlined shows on the Waikiki strip throughout the late 1960s and 1970s – most notably at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Halekulani Hotel. Who knows if there are any videos from those performances in the pre-Handycam era? But there are a number of performances by the duo from the 1965-66 television version of the Hawaii Calls program. Here is one of my favorites.
If the lei is the most precious symbol of affection the Hawaiians can give, what could be more precious than a lei of flowers? A lei of stars, perhaps? In 1949, composer R. Alex Anderson published the now classic “I’ll Weave A Lei of Stars,” but a few years later, another composer extended Anderson’s analogy to outfit the object of his affection with a lei of stars, a gown woven from the skies, and a rainbow for a shawl. Ed sings while Bev dances that oft-forgotten follow-up, “To Make You Love Me, Ku`uipo.” The song was composed by steel guitarist Danny Stewart who joined the Hawaii Calls radio program in 1960 after the untimely passing of the show’s longtime steel guitarist Jules Ah See. But Stewart was already gone by the time of this mid-1960s television performance – having passed away a few years earlier in 1962.