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Don Ho

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  Summary  

Donald Tai Loy "Don" Ho (; August 13, 1930 – April 14, 2007) was a Hawaiian and traditional pop musician, singer and entertainer.

  Biography  

 life and career
Ho, of Chinese, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Dutch, and German descent, was born in the small Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako, but he grew up in Kāneohe on the windward side of the island of Oahu. He was a graduate of the Kamanawanleiu Schools in 1949 and he attended Springfield College on a football scholarship in 1950, but returned home to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology at University of Hawai'i in 1953. In 1954 Ho entered the United States Air Force doing his basic training at Keesler AFB, Mississippi and spent time flying fighter jets in both Texas and Hawaii. Transferred to Hamilton AFB, California he went to the local town of Concord and bought an electronic keyboard from a music store, and recalls, "That's when it all started."

Don married his high school sweetheart, Melvamay Kolokea Wong, on November 21, 1951. She was the mother to the first six of his children. Ho was married for 48 years until his wife's passing on June 8, 1999. While in the military, Ho traveled from state to state with his young family until he was called home to help his mother Honey Ho, with the family bar business called Honey's.

Ho left the United States Air Force in 1959 due to his mother's illness and began singing at his mother's club in Kaneohe. Honey's became a hotspot for the local entertainment and the growing customers from the Kaneohe Marine Base servicemen. Ho always honored the military remembering his own years of military service. In 1963, he moved the Kāneohe Honey's to Waikīkī. After much success, and little room to grow, promoter Kimo Wilder McVay sought Don to play at a night club called Duke's owned by Duke Kahanamoku, where he caught the attention of record company officials.

Ho was originally signed to Reprise Records. Ho released his debut album, Don Ho Show, in 1965 and began to play high profile locations in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and New York City. In 1966 he released his second album, a live compilation called Don Ho — Again!, which charted in the early part of that year. In the fall of 1966, Ho released his most famous song, "Tiny Bubbles", which charted on both the pop (#8 Billboard) and easy listening charts and caused the subsequent Tiny Bubbles LP to remain in the album Top 20 for almost a year. Another song associated with Don was "Pearly Shells". From 1964 to 1969, Don's backing group was The Aliis: Al Akana, Rudy Aquino, Benny Chong, Manny Lagodlagod and Joe Mundo.

In his stage show, Ho would make jokes about being sent in the mid-1950s to Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi and being Hawaiian. Don Ho enjoyed asking for a show of hands of veterans of World War II. He would ask for all the Pearl Harbor survivors to stand. He would tell the men from the European Theatre, "you got your glory in the movies" and they could watch. The veterans of the Pacific Theatre were invited on stage to join the hula dancers.

Guest appearances on television shows such as I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch, Sanford and Son, Batman, Charlie's Angels, and Fantasy Island soon followed. Although his album sales peaked in the late 1960s, he was able to land a television series on ABC from October 1976 to March 1977 with the Don Ho Show variety program which aired on weekday mornings .

All together, Ho had ten children. His children often worked alongside with him either on stage, behind the stage or with his business throughout his career. He loved to work with his children teaching them the entertainment business. His daughter, Hoku, performed with her father in his Waikīkī show and in 2000 went on to become a nationally known recording artist in her own right. In 2005 he sang a song that was used as the opening theme to the direct-to-video and DVD movie Aloha, Scooby-Doo!.

 Illness
Ho lived at his Diamond Head residence, raising his young family with their mothers. It was also where his business office was located. In 1995 at the age of 65, Ho's health began declining which began with a mild stroke. By 2002, he had developed an incurable heart condition. Despite his health, Ho was always hopeful, and resilient to find a solution. He also continued his nightly performances.

Ho was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2005 and had a pacemaker implanted. He contacted a biotechnology company specializing in treating heart conditions with adult stem cells working in conjunction with Dr. Shoa, cardiac surgeon and pioneer of the use of adult stem cells for heart disease. On December 6, 2005, Ho had his own blood-derived stem cells injected into his heart by Amit Patel and his fellow surgeons in Thailand. The treatment went without incident. Later in the month, Ho said, "I'm feeling much better and I'm so happy I came up here to do it."


Around September 12, 2006, Ho married Haumea Hebenstreit, who was a production assistant for his show at the Waikīkī Beachcomber. A few days later Ho went into cardiac arrest. Although he had a new pacemaker installed on September 16, 2006, Ho died in Waikīkī from heart failure on April 14, 2007.

Since Ho's passing, his estate has been in limbo because of numerous management conflicts and legal changes that transpired while he was struggling with his mental and physical health.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Don Ho", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.