Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Tropics dressing co-owner
lived a life of adventure

Charlotte "Peaches" Guerrero / isle businesswoman


By Rosemarie Bernardo

Charlotte "Peaches" Guerrero faced challenges -- movies, big-game hunting, restaurants and salad dressing -- head on.

"If you told her she couldn't do it, she would figure out a way to do it," said Guerrero's niece, Tracy McCalla.

Guerrero, co-proprietor of Tropics Salad Dressing, died in her Kahala Home on Saturday.

She was born on Oct. 9 in Buffalo, N.Y. However, the year she was born remains a secret.

"That's going to stay a mystery," said Guerrero's nephew Drake Hudson.

Guerrero led a life of adventure: She was featured in Hollywood films and pursued game hunting in Africa. She also opened a chain of restaurants in Hawaii and launched an array of salad dressings with her husband, Tony.

Guerrero was involved in the motion picture industry where she danced in the Ziegfield Follies and appeared in movies with Jackie Coogan and Mary Pickford.

In the 1930s, Guerrero met Tony in Hollywood, where he owned Hawaiian Hut.

The couple moved to Honolulu and opened the Tropics Restaurant on Kalakaua Avenue in 1940. Fourteen years later, the Guerreros opened a second Tropics Restaurant on Kona Street, attracting movie star patrons such as John Wayne, Jane Russell and Bing Crosby. A third eatery also opened on the Big Island.

During this time, the Guerreros traveled extensively, and Charlotte delved into game hunting on African safaris. She also traveled to India, where she shot a 350-pound tiger. She eventually became the only female member of the Mzuri Safari Club of San Francisco.

"She could hang with the men, but she was always a lady, very feminine," McCalla said.

She was adventurous and fearless, she added.

Following the closure of the Tropics restaurants in 1968, the couple opened a Tropics Salad Dressing manufacturing plant at Ala Moana Farmers Market and sold it in 1983.

Two years later, Tony died of complications relating to Alzheimer's disease.

To date, Tropics salad dressings remains a favorite among isle residents.

"She was a woman ahead of her time, very independent," McCalla said.

A memorial service will be held on Friday at 9 a.m. at the Outrigger Canoe Club. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice Hawaii, the Alzheimer Association of Hawaii or the Hawaiian Humane Society.

E-mail to City Desk


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