Former entertainer is home to stay
What ever happened to Al Harrington?
Answer: Al Harrington, who closed a successful 12-year run as a Waikiki showroom headliner in 1992 and then embarked on a new career as a motivational speaker on the mainland, returned to Hawaii in May to campaign for the re-election of Dan Akaka to the U.S. Senate and says he is home to stay.
"No way I'm going back there (to live)," Harrington said before he addressed the audience at "Ne'epapa I Ke O Mau," the 'Aha Punana Leo fundraiser honoring Don Ho on Dec. 15.
"Now that the (Akaka) campaign is over, I'm starting to feel out the situation where I'll be able to make some contribution (to Hawaii)."
Harrington, 71, plans to continue his work as a motivational speaker but says he is looking to make contributions in other areas, "especially for the Pacific island peoples."
Born in Samoa but raised in Hawaii, Harrington graduated from Punahou School and attended Stanford University on a four-year football scholarship, then turned down an opportunity to play professional football with the Baltimore Colts to go on a church mission in the South Pacific. He then got a degree in education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and taught at Punahou while starring in a Polynesian revue at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Harrington achieved national fame as Ben Kokua on "Hawaii Five-0," worked steadily as a Waikiki showroom headliner through the 1970s and then took over as the headliner at the Polynesian Palace in 1980 when Don Ho left the Lewers Street showroom to return to the International Market Place.
Harrington returned to Hawaii in 1996 to star as Othello opposite Laura Bach (Desdemona) and Richard MacPherson (Iago) in Kumu Kahua's unconventional staging of the classic Shakespeare tragedy, but was absent from the local entertainment scene thereafter.
"Every year, I would come home, but I would sneak in and sneak out. Now, now more sneaking in and sneaking out. I feel good about it."
He added, "Every morning, I get up and I thank God I'm home."
This update was written by John Berger.
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