A new movie is out about the life of singer/actress Judy Garland. My intrepid researcher, Steve Miura, found out about one visit she made to Hawaii.
“Jack Cione told me a story about Judy Garland that was very interesting,” Miura says. Cione owned many nightclubs in Hawaii. He said that Judy was visiting Oahu with her tour manager Mark Herron in April, 1965. They were dating and would marry later that year.
The couple stayed at a private residence — Clifford Kimball’s Hide Away Cottage No. 3, located at 3115 Diamond Head Road, along with Judy’s youngest two kids.
“They got into a big argument,” Miura says, “and Garland got so angry that she set some of the clothes in his wardrobe on fire. The fire department arrived quickly and put it out before it spread.
“Herron left for the mainland shortly after the argument. Garland and two of her children, Joseph and Lorna Luft, were left in Hawaii with no money.”
Her eldest daughter, Liza Minnelli, then 19, was on Broadway rehearsing for the opening of “Flora the Red Menace,” for which she won a Tony Award.
Newsmen questioned her two youngest kids, who said Hawaii was beautiful but regretted they didn’t know how to surf. They had surfing lessons the day before and were going for an outrigger canoe ride later if the waves were up.
There was a front-page story in the April 15, 1965, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, titled “Judy Garland’s Hush-Hush Visit Bared By House Fire,” about the small fire in a closet in the Diamond Head home where she was staying.
Damage was estimated at $2,000 to the cottage, $1,000 in clothes, a $300 jade ring, and $400 in cash. Defective wiring was blamed.
“At that time, Garland’s career was not going well and she was struggling with her personal finances,” Miura continues.
Cione said Garland came to Forbidden City one night. She and a friend ran up a huge bar tab, but kept the audience begging for more as she sang song after song, with Earl Grant on the organ.
“A little high on booze, she handed me the bill,” Cione recalled, “and said, ‘Thank you, boss. I had a great time in your joint. The bill is yours. No charge for my singing.’”
The next evening she returned and asked to see Cione, wanting to apologize for the previous night. She would have paid the bill but didn’t have any money.
“She said with tears in her eyes, ‘God dammit, I’m flat broke. I gotta get off this island and don’t have $3,000 to pay my rent.’”
Cione told her she could make that and more singing at his Dunes nightclub. “With a $5 cover charge, she agreed to do a dinner show and cocktail show. A few radio commercials and word of mouth resulted in over 800 reservations, grossing over $4,000.
“A happy Judy could pay the rent and have enough money to get herself and the kids back to Hollywood.”
Judy Garland was a very talented and very confused woman, Cione concluded.
Garland and Herron would marry in November 1965. It was her fourth. It lasted five months.
In the current movie, “Judy,” actress Rene Zellweger sings “Over the Rainbow,” Garland’s most- memorable song, at the end of the film. It’s interesting to me that it was also Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s most memorable song.
I wrote about Wailuku- born Samuel Armstrong two weeks ago. His father was the pastor at Kawaiahao Church. Samuel Armstrong joined the Civil War and fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.
By the end of the war, he was a brigadier general and attended Gen. Robert Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. After the war, he founded Hampton Institute in Virginia to educate newly freed slaves.
Diane Harding with the Outdoor Circle wrote to remind me that a fort was named after him in Honolulu.
Fort Armstrong was built on fill over Kuakaukukui Reef in 1907 and decommissioned in 1949. It was part of Oahu’s coastal defense system, and overlooked the entrance to Honolulu Harbor.
It is now the site of Pier 1 and 2, the foreign trade zone.
The Outdoor Circle planted hundreds of trees there in the 1930s, Harding said, as well as at Fort DeRussy, Fort Shafter, Fort Ruger, Fort Kamehameha (now Hickam), Schofield Barracks and Wheeler.
The commissary for Fort Armstrong was across Ala Moana Boulevard. Reader Alice Tucker remembers when her husband was stationed at Schofield Barracks in the 1950s, and they were living in Makiki, they often shopped at the commissary. “It was at the foot of Richard Street and was called, cleverly enough, the Richard Street Commissary.
“It was a bunch of military barracks buildings, but it had regular meat counters, frozen food bins, etc., just like a regular grocery store.
“In September, 1961, they closed the Richard Street commissary. They were going to put up another little building there, and it’s there now: The Federal Building.”
Alexander & Baldwin
The Alexander & Baldwin building passed a milestone last month. It was erected 90 years ago and it is unique in many ways.
The building was completed in the summer of 1929, at a cost of over $1.2 million. A grand opening was held Sept. 30, 1929. In attendance were business and government leaders of the territory and throngs of interested citizens.
At the time, A&B was already 59 years old, having been established by two sons of missionaries, Samuel Thomas Alexander and Henry Perrine Baldwin, in 1870. The two began humbly with just 561 acres of sugar cane land on Maui near Makawao.
Their headquarters building is located in the heart of Honolulu’s financial and business district on Bishop Street, which was only about 20 years old at the time.
The chief architect was C.W. Dickey. He popularized the “Dickey” or “Hawaiian” roof, characterized by its high peak, low eaves, wide spread and double pitch.
The other architect involved in the A&B Building was Hart Wood, a master of ornamentation and design.
Wood was responsible for introducing many Asian elements to Hawaiian architecture, as he did with the A&B building.
Many Chinese features paid homage to the company’s early laborers, such as 18 large water buffalo heads running around three sides of the building. I had never noticed them until corporate trainer Pam Chambers pointed them out to me.
There are Chinese faces in window ornamentations, long life signs in the column capitals, and circular good luck signs at the main entrance on Bishop Street. The tile work surrounding panels of Hawaiian fish were made with Chinese motifs.
The original public room on the first floor had an exceptionally high (39 feet) ceiling. It featured walls of Roman travertine marble from Italy and an inlaid floor of black Belgian marble.
Pictorial tile decorations were designed by acclaimed national artists for the public room. One mural, of Maui’s Iao Valley and Kahului Harbor, was called “the finest piece of art work in the Pacific.”
Dickey said, “My foremost thought architecturally was to produce a building suitable to the climate, environment, history and geographical position of Hawaii.”
It is certainly that and more.
The Rearview Mirror Insider is Bob Sigall’s weekly email that gives readers behind-the-scenes background, stories that wouldn’t fit in the column, and lots of interesting details. My Insider “posse” gives me ideas for stories and personal experiences that enrich the column. I invite you to join in and be an Insider at RearviewMirrorInsider.com. Mahalo!