Friday, November 27, 2015         


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Kahala Hotel birthday bash takes groovy trip back in time

By Ben Wood


THE 47TH birthday party of the Kahala Hotel Saturday night was a rousing success. "It was like New Year's Eve," said Alicia Antonio, one of two members of Kahala Hilton royalty who were at my table. The other was Maria "Baby" Handl, whose late husband was Richard Handl, former GM of the Kahala Hilton who became president of Hilton International hotels in Asia-Pacific, including the Kahala and Australia. Alicia started as a bell clerk in earlier years and worked her way up to GM of the hotel's Maile Restaurant and Lounge, one of the most popular spots in town.

THE HOTEL opened in 1964, and delicious food by original chef Martin Wyss and current chef Wayne Hirabayashi was the big draw for the sold-out crowd at the Plumeria Beach House. Paradise & Company played every kind of music of the 1960s. The midsized band, with horns, Rocky Holmes on sax, and vocals by conga drummer Albert Maligmat, was fronted by four female singer-dancers. Rocky played with Kit Samson's group in the Maile Lounge. Albert is an SOS alum. The entire Paradise aggregation was hot. So hot that many in the dressy crowd charged to the grassy area in front of the band to dance. One of the dancing queens was Charlotte Pauly, wife of hotel GM Thomas Pauly. Five members of the original hotel staff were invited guests. They were: Keiji Nakamura, Damaso Clemente, Benita Siarot, Hans Wirbel and Bertha and Jesse Newsome, a husband and wife team. ...

JIM NABORS and Al Masini, two television giants, were pals. "I visited him a few days before he died," Jim said. Al died Nov. 29. Jim added, "Al loved my house and its yards." He offered the Diamond Head property to Al's wife, Charlyn Honda Masini, as a memorial site. Charlyn drew up a guest list of 110 and the memorial was held Jan. 8. Charlyn said it was a beautiful night and the new crescent moon "looked like a smile." Al created or was executive producer for shows such as "Star Search" that helped launch careers of Ray Romano, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Chris Rock, Britney Spears, LeAnn Rimes, Christina Aguilera, Sharon Stone, Brandy, Rosie O'Donnell, Drew Carey and more. Other Masini shows include "Entertainment Tonight" and "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" with Robin Leach. Besides Charlyn and Jim, speakers paying tribute to Al at the memorial included Leach, Vicky Cayetano, Lee Donohue, Cha Thompson, Garner Anthony, Byron Allen, Tony Vericella, Dean Nakagawa and Sam Riddle. Al and Charlyn met when both were working on Donald Trump's Miss Universe Pageant here 12 years ago. Then-Gov. Ben Cayetano asked Al to be producer. Charlyn was the TV editor for beautiful Hawaii scenes that were shown in commercials to Danny Couch's vocal of "These Islands." For Al, Charlyn was his beautiful island scene and they were married three years later. "I'm happy to have had what time I had with him and will always miss him," Charlyn said. ...

Ben Wood, who sold the Star-Bulletin on Honolulu streets in World War II, writes of people, places and things Fridays. E-mail him at

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