At the time, the young star was going through some career difficulties, and apparently he was so inspired by the Kauai people that he felt energized and reinvigorated in his career. This began the star’s comeback to become one of the most famous and loved entertainers ever.
It was April of 1952 when Sinatra was making a few appearances in Honolulu and agreed to help a struggling promoter on Kauai by singing at the Kauai County Fair. The weather was rainy, and the performance tent was old, leaking onto Sinatra’s tux as he walked out to perform.
As recalled by Sinatra’s friend, Honolulu newspaperman Buck Buchwach, Frank said to him, “For just one second, considering the whole situation, I wondered if the show really did have to go on?” That is when Frank took a look out at his Kauai audience of less than 300 people.
“They were not wearing fancy clothes or expensive jewelry,” Frank later said. “They wore color-splattered aloha shirts, jeans, mumus, and such. Homey. And their warmth and friendliness circulated throughout that tent; it smacked me in the face.”
It seemed Old Blue Eyes was so touched by the audience he had gotten all chicken skin! He was moved by the strong Aloha Spirit of the Kauai people!
“When two little brown-skinned girls gave me a couple of hand-made leis and little kisses I almost broke down,” continued Frank.
Just before the final Kauai County Fair show Buchwach had another conversation with Frank Sinatra inside of a vehicle parked outside the show tent.
Buchwach recalled that, “Frank took out a cigarette, and quietly puffed spirals of smoke. Though outside it was still raining, he had changed at his nearby hotel into his finest dress tuxedo, a magnificent shirt, his patent leather shoes, and his favorite ring.”
Buchwach recalled that Frank then went onstage and sang “song after song, hit after hit, maybe twenty. I was stunned. It was, merely, fantastic; it was one thousand percent for several hundred small-town ticket holders with big hearts and hands that grew red from clapping.”
Buchwald said that Frank had tears in his eyes when he said to him, “Buck, I sang the best I know how. Those people deserved it. It’s a night I’ll never forget.”
“Tonight,” Frank continued, “marks the first night on the way back. I can feel it in every bone.”
Frank Sinatra returned to Kauai in April of 1964 to film None But the Brave about U.S. Marines who crash landed on a Japanese-controlled Pacific island during World War II. Frank stayed at the Coco Palms and filming took place at Pila’a Beach.
One day on Kauai Frank was visiting Wailua Beach across from the Coco Palms and he noticed the producer’s wife in trouble in the ocean where the currents had carried her out. He quickly swam to assist her and was pulled out to sea himself while she somehow got to shore.
Some twenty minutes later help arrived and pulled Sinatra from the water as he was turning blue and an ambulance arrived. Sinatra missed the next day of filming the movie but he was okay after quite a scare.
For more information about Hollywood on the Garden Island see Movies Filmed on Kauai.