Elvis Presley’s film Blue Hawaii was filmed at the Coco Palms Resort on the island of Kauaʻi. The resort, built in 1953 on the site of an 1896 coconut plantation, was managed by Grace Buscher.
Buscher made the resort a destination for Hawaiian-style weddings and established an evening torch-lighting ceremony [copied by many other hotels] and tree-plantings in honor of famous people from the islands and around the world.
The Chapel on the property was built by a movie production company in 1953 for the film Miss Sadie Thompson, starring Rita Hayworth. Elvis’ character was married there at the climax of his film.
Although very popular with its Blue Hawaii-themed weddings, by the time we visited in 1990, the resort was beginning to show wear. But we made it in time.
The property was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. The property has no direct beach access and is unlikely to ever become a hotel again.
Alie and I enjoyed several blissful days on Kauai before we were joined by old friends Neville and Linda. Unfortunately, Neville had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, had to eat on a very strict schedule, and was seriously depressed. We were sympathetic, but it was depressing for us all.
But as they checked in, Neville noticed The Kingston Trio was booked to play that week. He immediately purchased four tickets in the first row.
The “theater” was simply a conference room which quickly filled up. Alie said her friend Stef at home would love to have the trio’s autographs. None of us had paper or a pen, so I volunteered to go back to the room to get them. When I returned, I noticed the trio was alone in a bar. I went in and apologized to Bob Shane, one of the original trio: “Tonight you are a quartet; my wife knows every one of your songs and will sing along.”
In the middle of their performance, Shane leaned over, pointed at Alie and said “You’re right. She knows them better than we do!”
Being at the front, we were last to file out after the show. There the trio was again alone in the bar. We went in. Alie got to sing again with the Kingston Trio [Bob Shane, George Grove and Roger Gambill at the time]. I recall Grove grumbling he had been with the group many years longer than original member Nick Reynolds but never got the credit. Grove, who knew nothing of Neville’s problems, told Neville he could play Grove’s banjo while they sang. We had no idea Neville was an accomplished banjo player. He then began playing the most expensive banjo he had ever held.
The depression was gone. For the rest of the week, Neville was a happy – yea even, ecstatic – man, and we all enjoyed a fabulous time.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Dates of our visit: 1 Nov 90 to 13 Nov 90
PS: I got two autographs for Stef and her husband Steve before the show and the third in the bar after it.