The Toronto Star 20 March 1945 was dismayed to report that the ukulele was unfit for use in the South Pacific. Brought up to associate those tropical islands with hula girls and ukuleles, the reporter learnt from Ms Belmont (founder of the Metropolitan Opera guild no less) that ukuleles fall apart there. I wonder what she was doing with the uke… Oh, and nothing was said as to the stability of hula girls.
The Truth newspaper, New Zealand, carried a bit of propaganda on 7 January 1922 from Harry B. Burcher, producer of shows:
If there is anyone on this side of the world who knows all that’s worth knowing about modern musical comedies, revues, etc., it’s surly Mr. Harry Burcher. Trained up at the Lyric in London and with experience under Geo. Grossmith and further as a producer of the above mentioned “stuff” in America, he was brought to Australia by Hugh J. Ward in 1914. This side of the world he has had the producing of of score of works of the aforesaid class. This introduction is mainly to impress “Truth’s” readers with the fact that this gentleman has had a wide experience and knows his business, and that his opinion of the stage girl of the Southern Hemisphere is worth quoting. He stated recently: “In ‘Oh, Lady, Lady,” I had sixteen girls on the stage, all beautiful, all beautifully dressed, all perfect in their teamwork, and each one actually playing the ukelele, not merely strumming under the corner of an orchestra clash. I maintain that in any other country that number would have made a sensation. Americans have said to me if that could be done at the Ziegfeld Follies, it would be the sensation of New York. I only know that I could never have got the London girl at the Gaiety or Adelpi to do anything approaching it.”
Whatever would Flo have said about that — all he had were Cliff Edwards and Ruth Etting!
The Independent (Hawaii) of 18 September 1900 related the following story:
There is a clergyman at Lihue (writes a correspondent) whose heart has gone out to the starving people of India and who is collecting money for them in a novel but very pleasing manner. When Luna is looking down in her brightest way on the Garden Island generally and Lihue specially the reverend gentlemen gathers around him eight beautiful Hawaiian girls with guitars and ukuleles, and other sweet instruments. A “bus” is awaiting the party. The parson and the sweet singers squeeze into the vehicle and then they go forth serenading the good people of Lihue and passing the hat around for contributions to the poor Hindoo. The noble people of Lihue may swear under their breath when the parson’s “bus” wakes them up but how many can resist the plaintive notes of “Ahi Wela, Moanalua” and other sweet hymns sung under the direction of a man of the cloth. And when the moon hides her face the noble band goes home and the Indian starvation fund has been swelled, and all sleep soundly on a conscience which says “nobly done.” Who wouldn’t be a charitable reverend on Kauai.[sic]
There’s something about the tone of this report that isn’t too sweet.
The Mohave County Miner and Our Mineral Wealth, a journal long associated with sun, sand, surf, girls and ukuleles, did in fact publish the photograph below on Friday the 13th of October, 1922:
Came across this happy snap at www.shorpy.com, and then found it on the Library of Congress site.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
UPDATE (more information from Shorpy site): ‘July 9, 1926. Washington, D.C. “Girls in bathing suits with ukuleles.” Identified in the caption of another photo as Elaine Griggs, Virginia Hunter, Mary Kaminsky, Dorothy Kelly and Hazel Brown.’