Not a lot of hard facts are known about our Hawaiian hero, Kono Kalakaua, other than he was descended from Hawaiian royalty, and that he wore a “dainty size 13 shoe”. You’d expect a big burly guy like Kono to be the stereotypical jock -- a bit belligerent and strong-armed. However, he was always the gentleman, quiet and reserved but funny, with nice manners, very gentle, and with strong ethical convictions. But, he was all ‘cop’, street smart and brave.I see Kono as a modern, but occasionally I see the ancient Hawaiian ways showing through -- not always in what he said but more in a knowing look in his eyes -- as if he knew something that the others could not possibly understand. I see him coming from a large, close knit Hawaiian family with a strong but traditional Hawaiian mother who taught him, through her own actions, the moral values that became his own code of ethics: to be respectful of authority -- his parents, elders, government; to love his culture -- respect the traditions and legends even if he no longer believed in them; and to have a strong sense of moral obligation to himself and his fellow man. These values made the man and the police officer.
Zulu, Gilbert Kauhi
Zulu was born in Rainbow Falls, Hilo, on the island of
Hawaii, on October 17, 1937. His
real name, Gilbert Kauhi, gave way to “Zulu”, coined by his football
buddies. His family moved to
Honolulu when he was a young boy and there he attended Kamehameha Schools, a
school reserved for those of true Hawaiian blood.
He is three-quarters Hawaiian, and one-quarter English by way of his
grandfather from Michigan. On
Waikiki he became a beach boy, giving surfing lessons and outrigger canoe rides.
Zulu and his buddies would compose and sing Hawaiian songs for fun and he learned to play the guitar and ukulele. He formed a musical group called the “Zulu and The Polynesians” which performed for tea-house parties for “all of the food they could eat”. He also worked in construction and at 17 joined the U.S. Coast Guard. He served 4 years in Atlantic and Pacific ports. He later formed a “Polynesian Revue” and toured Japan and entertained on cruise ships. He has appeared in many movies made in Hawaii, including “Rampage”, “Hawaii”, “Gidget”, “Day of Infamy” and “Diamond Head”, as well as Japanese and Italian movies filmed in Hawaii.
Later Zulu became a popular disc jockey in Hawaii, a
nightclub performer, and a stand-up comedian while working with Don Ho.
Another musical group, “Zulu and the Sons of Hawaii” performed
Hawaiian music. Zulu sings in five
languages. In 1968, he recalls
going to a casting ‘cattle call’ and won the part of Kono on “Hawaii
After “Hawaii Five-0” Zulu continued appearing in films and television shows – but not as a heavy. “No drug dealers, no pimps. Playing a cop gives you a good-guy image, so the fans are always friendly. I enjoy meeting them and sharing their aloha.” He has appeared in “Magnum, P.I.,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Midnight Special,” “The Glen Campbell Show,” “The Brian Keith Show” and “Roger That”. He also enjoyed helping young children and various charities in Hawaii.
Zulu’s health has suffered in the last years. In 1994 he had not been feeling well and on a hunch, he went to have his blood pressure checked at the local fire station. It proved to save his life. He was instantly placed in the hospital and spent several weeks in intensive care but finally rallied and got his blood pressure under control. Then in 2000 he had triple bypass heart surgery and continued to battle diabetes and kidney failure.
(Ed. note: there is a wonderful interview with Zoulou with Jerry Pickard in our Special Edition issue of Central Dispatch. If you haven't read it yet, please do so! Also, you may write to Zoulou at P O Box 21, Kea'au, HI 96749)
Thanks to Rita Ractliffe for much of this information from her 1996 Mahalo Con booklet.
Thanks to Five-0 Investigator Tammy Jordan for this "book" on Kono!