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Don Ho
Birth name Donald Tai Loy Ho
Born August 13, 1930
Origin Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Died April 14, 2007(2007-04-14) (aged 76)
Genres Traditional pop
Hapa haole
Occupation(s) Singer, musician
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1959–2007
Labels Reprise Records
Associated acts The Ali‘is

Donald Tai Loy "Don" Ho (simplified Chinese: 何大来; traditional Chinese: 何大來; pinyin: Hé Dàlái; August 13, 1930 – April 14, 2007) was a Hawaiian musician, singer and actor.

Early life

Ho is of Chinese, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Dutch, and German descent. He was born in the small Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaʻako. Ho grew up in Kāneʻohe on island of Oʻahu. He was a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools in 1949. He attended Springfield College on a football scholarship in 1950. Ho left Springfield and returned home to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology at University of Hawai'i in 1953. In 1954, Ho entered the United States Air Force. He did his basic training at Keesler AFB, Mississippi. Ho spent time flying fighter jets in both Texas and Hawaii. When he was sent to Hamilton AFB, California, he went to the local town of Concord and bought an electronic keyboard from a music store. He was known to say, "That's when it all started."

Don married the girl he was in love with in high school, Melvamay Kolokea Wong, on November 21, 1951. She was the mother to the first six of his children. Ho was married for 48 years until she died on June 8, 1999. While in the military, Ho lived in many states with his family until he was called home to help his mother Honey Ho, with the family bar business called Honey's.

Singing career

Ho left the United States Air Force in 1959 due to his mother's illness. He began singing at his mother's club in Kaneohe. Honey's became a main location for the local entertainment. Many of their customers were from the Kaneohe Marine Base.. Ho always honored the military. He remembered his own years of military service. In 1963, he moved the club in Kāneʻohe to Waikīkī. After much success, Kimo Wilder McVay wanted Don to play at a night club called Duke's. It was owned by Duke Kahanamoku. This was where he was noticed by record company officials.

Ho was first signed to Reprise Records. He released his first album, Don Ho Show, in 1965. Ho began to play places in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and New York City. In 1966, he released his second album. It was a live album called Don Ho — Again!. This album charted in the early part of that year. In the fall of 1966, Ho released his most famous song, "Tiny Bubbles". The song charted on both the pop (#8 Billboard) and easy listening charts. The Tiny Bubbles LP was in the album Top 20 for almost a year.


Ho had many guest appearances on television series. These included I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch, Sanford and Son, Batman, Charlie's Angels, and Fantasy Island. Although his album sales peaked in the late 1960s, he was able to get a television series on ABC from October 1976 to March 1977. It was called the Don Ho Show. It was a variety program and was broadcast on weekday mornings.

Personal life

Ho had ten children. His children often worked with him either. They either performed with him or were a part of the business part of his performances. He loved to work with his children. He taught them the entertainment business. His daughter, Hoku, performed with her father in his Waikīkī show. In 2000, she went on to become a well known singer. In 2005, he sang a song that was used as the opening theme to the direct-to-video and DVD movie Aloha, Scooby-Doo!.


In 1995 at the age of 65, Ho's health began to get bad. He had a small stroke. By 2002, he had a heart condition that could not be fixed. He was always hopeful no matter how bad his health was. He always felt there was a way to fix things. He also kept singing ever night.

Ho was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2005. He had a pacemaker implanted. He talked with a biotechnology company that dealt with treating heart conditions with adult stem cells. This company was working with Dr. Shoa, cardiac surgeon and one of the first people to work with adult stem cells for heart disease. On December 6, 2005, Ho had his own stem cells put into his heart by Amit Patel and his other doctors in Thailand. The treatment went without problems. Later in the month, Ho said, "I'm feeling much better and I'm so happy I came up here to do it."

Around September 12, 2006, Ho married Haumea Hebenstreit. She worked on his show in Waikīkī. A few days later Ho went into cardiac arrest. He had had a new pacemaker installed on September 16, 2006, but still died in Waikīkī from heart failure on April 14, 2007.

  • Don Ho's authorized autobiography, DON HO: My Music, My Life with Jerry Hopkins. ISBN: 978-0-9790647-4-6
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