NATIVE HAWAIIAN CLARISSA (“HILO HATTIE”) HAILI BORN—SINGER & COMEDIAN
Born in Honolulu, Clara began entertaining while teaching elementary school in 1923. In 1935, Don McDiarmid Sr. and Johnny Noble wrote the song When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop. McDiarmid intended it to be danced by a smooth, sexy hula dancer, but when their dancer fell ill, Haili danced it as a comedy piece. It became a huge success and “Hilo Hattie” became her stage name. Clara’s other signature song, The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai, was from the movie Song of the Islands. She became a favorite among the military. In 1940, Harry Owens’ orchestra hired her and Hattie joined the Hawaii Calls broadcasts that went out around the world. She was referred to as “the Polynesian Sophie Tucker.” Hattie was still touring the mainland in late 50s and early 60s. In 1961, she appeared in the motion picture Blue Hawaii with Elvis Presley and, on TV, she had a recurring role in Hawaii Five-O as Mrs. Pruitt. She died on December 12, 1979, in Honolulu.
Source: “Clara Inter (‘Hilo Hattie’), SquareOne. Retrieved 7/31/2020, http://www.squareone.org/Hapa/clara.html Photo: Author unknown, circa 1937-41. Likely Public Domain. If not, Fair Use. Source: Hickam History Office & Fleet Imaging, NAVBASE Pearl Harbor--Archives of the 15th Airlift Wing, 1940s (hiavps.com).