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Gidget Goes Hawaiian

gidgetLast night I had drinks on Waikiki Beach with Gidget.

Not the most memorable movie Gidget, Sandra Dee, and the iconic TV Gidget, Sally Field—no, the real Gidget.

Before Gidget was three movies, a couple of TV series and even an animated feature, it was a novel.  Gidget was written in 1957 by a Malibu screenwriter named Frederick Kohner, who based it on the experiences of his then 15-year-old daughter Kathy.

Kathy Kohner Zuckerman—in Hawaii to celebrate her 66th birthday and her 43rd anniversary with former professor Marvin Zuckerman—joined me for a drink at House Without a Key.

“Gidget really was my nickname,” she said.  “It stood for girl midget.  Once I had a nickname, I knew I was part of the Malibu surfing crowd.  And that’s my photo, with my board, on the cover of the book.”
The original Gidget was a part of surfing subculture before there really was a surf subculture. Her story help launch a thousand surfboards, not to mention Jan & Dean, the Beach Boys, half a dozen bad Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon movies and the now multibillion dollar worldwide surf industry.

Kohner apparently has mixed feelings about becoming a surf icon.  She wrote in her diary that the first Gidget movie, which came out when she was only 18, was stupid.

She developed a love for Hawai‘i—hence, the follow-up Gidget Goes Hawaiian.  But she outgrew surfing, and didn’t take it up again until the ‘90s when Surfer Magazine placed her No. 7 on its list of the 25 Most Influential People in Surfing.
Two days a week, she’s a greeter at Duke’s Malibu. It’s a sister restaurant to the popular Duke’s Waikiki, and sells the novel, reissued seven years ago.  “The girl in the book, that’s me,” she tells people.

Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
Honolulu Surf Film Festival slated to screen 16 Hawaii premieres. We're stoked!
Duke Kahanamoku OceanFest 2010 rides Waikiki surf, Aug. 22-28
Your Top 5 favorite Hawaii-filmed movies: HAWAII Magazine Facebook poll results

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