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(and more bears) 8 Tracks - Digipack - Limited Edition: 300 copies Clara Inter with Al... more

Clara Inter with Al Kealoha Perry And His Singing Surfriders: Hilo Hattie (CD)

(and more bears) 8 Tracks - Digipack - Limited Edition: 300 copies

Clara Inter with Al Kealoha Perry And His Singing Surfriders : Hilo Hattie

An iconic Hawaiian entertainer, Clara Inter (1901-1979) captivated audiences in her native territory and across the North American mainland. Wearing an oversize muumuu and sporting a thick floral lei and large floppy hat, 'Hilo Hattie' burlesqued the graceful hula dancers who seductively swayed to flowing Hawaiian rhythms.

Born Clarissa Meleka Haili in Honolulu, she practiced hula moves as a youth, displeasing her religious mother. After marrying Theodore Inter in 1930, she became a Honolulu schoolteacher. Growing restless in her day job, Inter joined Louise Akeo’s Royal Hawaiian Girls’ Glee Club in 1936. This 25-member chorus performed in a nightly revue at Honolulu’s Royal Hawaiian Hotel. While entertaining tourists on a Pacific cruise, one of the troupe’s hula dancers fell ill before a performance. Undaunted, Inter stepped forward and broadly parodied the dancer’s showcase number, 'When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop.' When the audience roared its approval, Inter found her signature song and a new career.

Billing herself as 'Hilo Hattie,' Inter entertained Hawaiian and mainland clubgoers with hapa haole novelties, including risqué numbers sung in pidgin English. In July 1940 Decca Records recorded eight Inter specialties in its Los Angeles studio, backed by Al Kealoha Perry’s Singing Surfriders, the house band on radio’s Hawaii Calls. Six titles appeared in Inter’s 1941 album, Hilo Hattie. 'Red Opu' and 'Moon, Don’t Make a Monkey Out of Me' surfaced on a 1949 Decca single.

Inter was featured in a 1942 Betty Grable musical, Song of the Islands; she also had a small role in Elvis Presley’s 1961 feature Blue Hawaii. She abandoned her busy tour schedule in 1960, but continued performing in Hawaiian nightspots until her 1977 retirement.

Dave Samuelson
Camden, Indiana
August 2019

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