Honolulu disc jockey and television personality Robert M. “Lucky” Luck’s (1918-77) pidgin English comedy routines were so fluent that many of his fans were taken aback to learn that he was not born and raised in the Hawaiian Islands.
But, it was easy for Luck — who was born in Texas and entertained island residents from the late 1940s through the 1970s — since he possessed a natural ability to impeccably mimic any type of dialect.
He startled radio listeners in 1949 during a broadcast of his KPOA morning radio show by becoming the first Hawaii disc jockey to speak pidgin over the air.
“I used my pidgin on the air,” he later recalled, “and letters of protest flooded the Advertiser, but people read the letters and tuned to my program and it was a success.”
Beginning in the 1950s, viewers became accustomed to seeing him wearing his signature coconut- leaf papale doing television commercials for Honolulu’s Leonard’s Bakery.
His advertisements for Leonard’s Portuguese malasadas and pao doce sweet bread were so popular, in fact, that Leonard’s Bakery, malasadas and “Lucky” Luck are nostalgically recalled together even to this day.
By the time he played the part of an airport passenger in the 1961 Elvis Presley movie “Blue Hawaii” — much of which was filmed at the Garden Isle’s Coco Palms Resort — he’d already made his mark in the islands.
“Lucky” Luck was the son of traveling carnival owner and professional wrestler “Roughhouse Nelson” Luck, and played football for Alabama before joining the Marine Corps following the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
Stationed in Samoa, Lt. Luck quickly became so proficient in the Samoan language that he was appointed an official interpreter.
After the war, he settled in Hawaii and married Ruth Kenison, the Samoan-haole daughter of “Club Pago Pago” owner Molimau Kenison.
Luck’s second wife was Jean Luck.
During the last weeks of his life, while suffering from terminal cancer, ever- cheerful “Lucky” Luck was honored by island well-wishers with countless letters of affection, cards and gifts.