Don Ho Statue | Go Hawaii

Don Ho Statue

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Statue of Don Ho

What: Waikīkī statue of Hawaiʻi’s legendary entertainer
Where: Waikīkī’s International Market Place

A local boy with a golden voice, Don Ho (August 13, 1930–April 14, 2007) became Hawaiʻi’s most famous entertainer. You can see the bronze sculpture of Ho at International Market Place in Waikīkī, where it’s positioned to welcome guests as they enter the center from Kalākaua Avenue. Designed by O‘ahu-based artist Kim Duffett, the bronze sculpture depicts Ho in the 1970s, and was created to convey his warmth, charisma and carefree aloha that charmed audiences.

Donald Tai Loy Ho was born in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaʻako on Aug. 13, 1930, and raised in the Windward Oʻahu country town of Kāneʻohe. He graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 1953, and signed with the U.S. Air Force in 1954, where he learned to fly fighter jets and earned the rank of first lieutenant. Ho left the Air Force and returned to Hawaiʻi with his wife Melva and their children to help manage and perform at Don’s mother’s namesake bar, Honey’s. 

Ho had gained a considerable local following playing his Hammond cord organ and singing at Honey’s by the time he was invited to play at Duke Kahanamoku’s lounge at the original International Market Place. Better known simply as Duke’s, the nightclub was where Ho would craft the three-times-nightly show that made him an international celebrity. Ho blended his low-key musical chops, honeyed baritone, easy showmanship and natural charm in an anything-could-happen show packed with songs, jokes and laughter. 

At the peak of his Duke’s popularity, Ho was selling out practically every show, including a midnight closer. The show became a must-attend for visiting celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Marlon Brando, Judy Garland and Sonny and Cher. Duke’s was also where Ho’s career began to take flight beyond Hawaiʻi, beginning with his hit “Tiny Bubbles” and the release of his debut The Don Ho Show! Live from Hawaiʻi album on national label Reprise Records and followed by several more successful albums, worldwide concert travel, and TV and film appearances. Through his musical talent, Ho was in no small part instrumental in making Hawaiʻi, and especially Waikīkī, a dream destination for visitors.