By: Being Local
Here are 7 WAY BACK TV characters that defined my childhood growing up in Hawaii. If you were raised here on the Big Island, then you may see some of our childhood influences below.
Bob Denver (Gilligan's Island) – Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful ship…
If you recite those lines, someone is sure to take over from there. The story of a marooned ship of strangers on a desert island appealed to many of us primarily because we lived on an island ourselves. Whether it was restless natives, a stranded fighter pilot or a mischievous gorilla Gilligan's Island kept us entertained well into the 70's and 80's… many years after it was cancelled in 1967.
Kikaida – Long before the Power Rangers, VR Troopers and Beetleborg there was my childhood hero, Kikaida. The protagonist, Jiro, is a denim clad android that turned into the super hero Kikaida to protect the innocent from the forces of evil. The guitar playing, motor cycle riding star had kids imitating him for many years. Around the same time, we also had shows like Kamen Rider, Rainbow man and Ultra Seven. Any others? Put them in the comment section.
Henry Winkler (Happy Days) – The leather jacket, the motorcycle and his signature “aaaayyyyeeee” made Fonzie the epitome of cool back in the day. A finger snap instantly surrounded him with pretty girls and a table would break in half with a tap of his index finger. And while creators of the show made Fonzie a tough guy, it was the way he defended Richie, Potsie and Ralph that made him a true hero to all of us. And who could forget his office in the bathroom or the episode where Al’s diner burnt down? Ah yes…a true classic.
Checkers And Pogo – The most famous kid’s show ever in Hawaii, Checkers and Pogo, lasted for 15 years (1967-1982) and kept kids engaged every day after school. Face smashing pies, donut eating contests and the always exciting birthday penny jar were just a few of the attractions that kept us glued to the TV. The duo would travel all over Oahu in their checker patterned convertible and brought smiles to all Hawaii’s keiki for many years.
Professor Fun – As Checkers and Pogo began to wind down in it’s hugely successful run, Professor Fun introduced the first “interactive” experience for kids in the late 1970’s with his memorable TV Pow game where kids would get to shoot alien spaceships by saying the word “POW” over the telephone. His graduation cap, black rimmed glasses and signature tie made his character recognizable everywhere he went and made us all believe that learning was cool. The two-minute video will bring back lots of memories for those of us who made Professor Fun a part of our childhood.
Jimmy Walker (Good Times) – I must be honest. I find myself still stroking my nonexistent mustache and saying, “you know, what can I say.” J.J. Evans and his DYNOMITE personality entertained us all during the running and re-running of the show Good Times back in the 70’s and 80’s. The show was relatable in many ways to us because of their humble living style and constant family interaction. The quick witted J.J. always had something classic to say whether it was in conversation with his sister, Thelma, or the building maintenance man, Bookman. And of course, who could forget the time Penny, played by little Janet Jackson, followed J.J. back to their apartment. The show hit so close to home for many of us living in Hawaii that even though the family lived in Chicago, their struggles were very similar to our own.
McGarrett (Hawaii Five-0) – I must admit that I thought about not putting this here because of it’s “adult-ness” back when I was a kid. But when discussing this article with a friend, he said “how are you going to have Fonzie and not McGarrett? Besides, the show is called HAWAII Five-0.” So here it is. The show ran for 12 solid seasons from ’68 -’80. My mom was a loyal fan of the show, but I didn’t much care for it because it was waaaay to “adulty” for me. Still, though, it is certainly an iconic show for those of us that grew up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Maybe you watched it with your parents or your grandparents and will remind you of some wonderful times in your childhood. And while the question of whether the original or the remake is better, there is one debate that we can put to rest about the show. Jack Lord was waaaaay cooler when he said Book’em Danno!
And those are seven characters that may have defined your childhood if you grew up in Hawaii. Of course, I missed some…so please tell me what they are! Which of these was your favorite? And I hope that the stroll down memory lane reading this was as enjoyable for you as it was for me writing it.