Sunday, February 06, 2005

Haleloke est morte

To the best of my knowledge, the death, on Dec. 16, 2004 at the age of 82, of Haleloke went totally without notice in the major press. It came to my attention, instead, on a chat list.

Did I just hear you say, "Hale. . .who?"

To which I might respond with:

"How quickly we forget."

Here is a woman who figured prominently in one of the major news stories of 1953--and one that marked the beginning of the demystification of modern showbiz---dead in Union City, Indiana . . . a long way from her birthplace of Hilo, Hawaii. That's sort of like Bartok giving up the ghost on Central Park West. Totally WRONG thanatopsical context.And so I set about googling. Search words: "Haleloke" + "death". Here's the first hit I got:

Leave it to the tiny Winchester (Indiana) News Gazette to have scooped them all. And that, only because Haleloke happened to live in the immediate vicinity of the paper. Unfortunately, the News Gazette didn't just gloss over the part Haleloke played in Arthur Godfrey's famed October 19, 1953 on-the-air bloodbath, they failed to mention it at all. To all those of you who are either too arteriosclerotic or young to remember, here's what happened:

TV mega-star Godfrey famously fired a large chunk of his cast ("the Little Godfreys") in one terrible swift blow that morning on live simulast radio and TV. Most notably, singer Julius LaRosa was singled out for axing for having lost his "humility," a word that soon became a national catchphrase. Also tossed out in the bathwater that a.m. were several other members of Godfrey's TV and radio rep family, including the singing group The Mariners, bandleader Archie Bleyer, and. . . "Hale. . .who?"

Little did Godfrey realize that, with that act, he had just become the Marie Curie of shooting one's self in the foot bigtime and naked for the world to see. Almost overnight he went from being the most beloved entertainer in America to, if not the most despised, among the least considered. Even though I was prrrractically still in my Doctor Dentons at the time, I can recall people running into the street in our neighborhood shouting the unbelievable news: "Did you see what Arthur Godfrey just did?" etc.

Is it any coincidence that the man who still holds the record for the number of broadcast TV hours (or close enough) was also the undisputed champion when it came to possessing one of the most massively swollen egos in modern show biz history? Next to him, that other much-vaunted megalomaniac, Al Jolson, comes off a distant second, and it is generally assumed that Godfrey was the model for Andy Griffith’s loathsome "Lonesome Roads" in the TV production and movie A Face in the Crowd. Such a bastard in fact was Godfrey that his wife of 40-some-odd years divorced him on her deathbed. Talk about having the last word!

It's somehow comforting (as in what-goes-around-comes-around) to know that, according to singer Julius LaRosa, when 80-year-old Godfrey was on his 1983 deathbed and a nurse inquired, “Is there anything we can get you, sir?” “Yes,” he is said to have answered, “Get me some friends.”

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Jane said...

Where the heck is Union City, Indiana?

Well, I know where it is and I can tell you that Haleloke was very happy in the years that she spent there. Our little town had a wonderful array of musicians who never missed an opportunity to lend their talents to entertain their friends and neighbors, or to help raise funds for the "cause de jour." Hale's music continued during her years in Union City but now was sung with and for people who valued her. My mother was her accompanist and good friend.

The only small error in your article was that after Arthur Godfrey completed his on-air hatchet job, he did retain Hale as the manager of one of his hotels in Miami. It was there that she came to know Paul and Stella Keck of Union City. After Paul's death, Hale became Stella's traveling companion, and shortly thereafter came to live in Union City permanently.

We all still think about her. In fact just last night while attending a choral concert, there was a duo that included a Hawaiian set. While they sang Hawaiian Chimes and Little Grass Shack, in the background my mind's eye could see Hale in her beautiful native costume, with a flower in her hair, dancing as only she could dance.

Haleloke and Union City actually were a good match.

Anonymous said...

My mother is literally on her deathbed and tonight she asked (in her hospital room), "Is Haleloke here?" My sisters and I had absolutely no idea who or what she was talking about..."Who's that, Mom?" we asked. "Oh, you know, the Hawaiian singer on Arthur Godfrey," she replied matter-of-factly. I assured mother that Haleloke wasn't with us but I would find out just where she was and now I can tell her.

Anonymous said...

I remember Haleloke so very well. I was just a six year old but I loved the Arthur Godfrey show and at seven had a major crush on LuAnn Simms (sadly long departed. I remember Haleloke as the one who had the beautiful voice and did the hula! The two big show albums that Arthur and the little Godfreys did is available from Columbia on CD . . . "A Visit to New York" and "Arthur Godfrey's TV Calendar Show". I think perhaps that Carmel Quinn like him . . .Pat Boone, The McGuire Sisters and the Chordettes owe him a lot.

Man Island said...

Reading your blog from the beginning. Alas I could find no footage or recording for Haleloke. Did find some of Lu Ann Simms ... and thats enough of that.

Dave said...

I grew up in Union City, In. One of my great-aunts was friends with Mrs. Keck and then with Hale. My aunt would invite Mrs. Keck and Hale to our family reunions. My memory is of Haleoke peeling apples at our family reunions. (I do have pictures!) She was always quick to smile and very gracious. I didn't realize she was a beautiful and popular singer in the 50's until long after I had left Union City. I just knew her as Aunt Mary's friend. She is missed.

Skip Shrauder said...

I remember Haleloke very well.

As a young boy I was always interested in Hawaii and wrote to her asking if she knew anyone in Hawaii who would be willing to be a pen pal. She advised me to write to the Honolulu Advertiser, which I did, and before long I was writing to 13 kids!

Many wonderful memories of those days and have visited Hawaii many, many time and even managed to meet two of my pen pals years later!!

Thank you Haleloke for taking time to reply to me and opening the way for all the memories!!

Skip Shrauder
Topsail Beach, NC 28445