Hawaiian singer Don Ho dead at 76

Celebrated entertainer and Hawaiian delight, Don Ho, said his farewell “Aloha” to this world Saturday morning when he died of heart failure. He was 76.

Heart problems had been a reoccurring illness for Ho, and he had worked through several promising procedures, including an experimental stem cell therapy in 2005 and the installation of a pacemaker last fall.

Known for wearing raspberry-tinted sunglasses and bright Hawaiian shirts, Ho performed five nights a week at the Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. His final show was this past Thursday.

According to “Yahoo! News,” Promoter Tom Moffatt said he attended Ho’s final performance, and Ho received a standing ovation.

“Don was in great spirits,” Moffatt said. “He was fine.”

Ho’s shows were a mix of songs, jokes and lessons on the Hawaiian language. According to his Web site, http://www.donho.com, Ho said he teaches the tourists how to make an “Aloha” sign.

Holding up his right hand with thumb and pinky finger extended, he says, “This means Family in Hawaii,” and jokes, “or at least it did when I was growing up. Nowadays to the kids, it just means hang loose.”

Usually, the entertainer both opened and ended the performance with his same signature song “Tiny Bubbles.” Ho would simply hum the tune and allow the audience to enthusiastically take over the familiar lyrics: “Tiny bubbles/in the wine/make me happy/make me feel fine.”

“I hate that song,” Ho often joked to the crowd. He told the audience that he performed it twice because “people my age can’t remember if we did it or not.”

Besides “Tiny Bubbles,” his other well-known songs include “I’ll Remember You,” “With All My Love” and the “Hawaiian Wedding Song.”

Ho had been a part of the Waikiki entertainment scene since the 1960’s.

He is survived by his wife, Haumea, and 10 children, including Hoku, who sometimes performed with her father.

To an enchanting performer, “Mahalo.”

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