HONOLULU (KHON2) — Danny Kaleikini, one of Hawaii’s best loved entertainers, passed away on Friday, Jan. 6; he was 85. Known as the Ambassador of Aloha, Kaleikini shared the aloha spirit with audiences around the world.
A family spokesperson said Kaleikini died peacefully Friday morning at St. Francis Hospice. Friends and fellow entertainers had been visiting him in the past week to say goodbye.
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“I said, you know Danny, you did really good. Hawaii owes you a debt of gratitude because what you’ve done for Hawaii nobody can ever do again,” said Carole Kai Onouye.
Kimo Kahoano, who got his first break on stage with Kaleikini, said he will always be grateful.
“I got to perform with the best. It was the best Danny every night came out and gave you his best aloha with a smile,” said Kahoano.
Known for his signature greeting, Kaleikini was the headline entertainer for 30 years at the Kahala Hilton’s Hala Terrace performing two shows nightly, six times a week.
Kaleikini spoke about those years during an interview on PBS Hawaii’s Long Story Short program.
“I got to meet the king and the queen, Queen Elizabeth and her husband. Prince Charles used to stay there because he played polo, and he used to come with Princess Diana. I got to play golf with President Ford,” he said.
In 1988, Kaleikini was officially proclaimed Ambassador of Aloha by then Gov. John Waihee. While he was known for helping so many entertainers get their break, Kaleikini was always grateful to those he worked with.
“We all work together as one family, and I think that was the key in the success. But, the secret ingredient A-L-O-H-A,” said Kaleikini.
Many said he was bigger than life. But in his earlier years, Kaleikini admits he would get star struck among other stars, like when he was with Duke Kahanamoku.
“I was so excited, so nervous. He walked in, and I forgot to blow the conch shell, pfffsss, pffssffs, hahaha,” said Kaleikini.
Hawaii’s entertainers said there will never be anyone else like Kaleikini.
“Whenever I say aloha, when I tour the world, I relate him; that’s who I think about, Danny Kaleikini. because if the word aloha had the best ambassador representative in my time, it’s Danny,” said entertainer Michael Paulo.
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“They’re not tears of sadness, they’re tears of joy because that’s what he gave us. He gave us all joy, mahalo Kaleikini,” said Kahoano.