Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hawaii Calls │ Bobby Breen

Bobby Breen, who was born on November 24, 1927 in Canada, was the finest treble voice of the late 1930s.   It is astonishing, but he started to perform in night clubs at the age of four.  Bobby then went on to become a leading child actor in Hollywood, and he appeared in many movie musicals in the 1930s, and 1940s.  Bobby's vast repertoire included not only popular standards, but also classical music, including opera.  He was an eclectic child star, and was the first to create a certain mystique in the eyes of the movie going public.  It is not widely known, but Bobby is one of the people that The Beatles admired, and he is pictured on the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album cover.  Bobby is in the front row, right in-between George Harrison and Marlene Dietrich.  Now that was quite an honor, and goes to show you just how highly esteemed the music of Bobby Breen was, and still is, because at the time of the writing of this post, Bobby Breen is alive and well, and lives in Tamarac, Florida.  In 1938, Bobby starred in the movie "Hawaii Calls", which was also the name of a very popular radio show, featuring authentic Hawaiian music that was hosted by the legendary Webly Edwards. The show was broadcast live every week from Waikiki Beach by KGMB, a radio station in Honolulu, and later distributed by "electrical transcription (an early type of  recording device that used acetate/aluminum disks)" throughout the continental United States.  Please remember that at that time Hawaii was still a Territory Of The United States, and there was no technically reliable way to transmit a radio show "live" to the mainland.  Most of "Hawaii Calls" was filmed in Honolulu, and Bobby's co-star was a Hawaiian boy who went by the name of Pua, which means flower in the Hawaiian language.  Not only that, but scores of Hawaiian, and hapa haole (half Hawaiian) children, were used as extras in the film.  In "Hawaii Calls", Bobby sings a beautiful operatic piece called "Macushla", accompanied by a full symphony orchestra, but instead of using that song, in this edition of Angel Watchers I am featuring a novelty number from the movie called "That's The Hawaiian In Me", that was composed by Hawaiian entertainers, Johnny Noble and Margarita Lake.  It is a really cool song and beach scene.  Click on the upper video widget to watch this clip.  I find it interesting though, that on the side wall of the now defunct Waikiki Theatre (it opened on August 20, 1936 and closed in November of 2002), located in Waikiki of course, there is a huge full-color movie poster of "Hawaii Calls".  It makes me smile whenever I see it.  "Hawaii Calls" is in the public domain, and the complete movie can be watched for free by clicking on the lower video widget.  Bobby Breen passed away on September 19, 2016 at the age of 88, in Pompano Beach, Florida, three days after the death of his wife.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Angel Watchers, wherever you may be.

 

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