"Mahape a ale wala'ua," Duke would say.
"Don't talk -- keep it in your heart."
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Under the Hau Tree | Olympic Gold, 1912 | Duke Surfs Freshwater, January 15, 1915 | Duke's Mile+ Ride of 1917 | Olympic Gold and Silver | Corona del Mar Save, June 14, 1925 | The Father of Modern Surfing | Twilight Years, 1962-68 | Sources
Duke has been credited, and rightfully so, as the man who introduced surfing and Hawai`i to the world. "At that time," noted Timmons, "Hawaii was the last outpost of the United States. It was the most isolated spot on earth, farther away from any place than any other place in the world. And then along came Duke, shoring up that distance with a single, powerful swimming stroke, emerging onto the world stage as if he had just stepped off his surfboard." After the Stockholm Olympic Games, Duke swam in exhibitions and swimming meets throughout Europe and the United States.
It was while on tour that he began to demonstrate not only his swimming, but his surfing as well. In 1912, he surfed for crowds of people in places like Balboa beach and Corona Del Mar, in Southern California.George Freeth had been the first to introduce surfing to mainland USA, with his professional surfing at Redondo Beach, beginning in 1907. But,it was Duke's highly publicized exhibitions on the West Coast that really grabbed people's attention. Soon, dedicated mainland surfers were emerging primarily in Southern California, "catching the waveriding bug" after Duke's trailblazing in 1912 and again in 1916.
While giving the surfing demos, Duke Kahanamoku caught the eye of Hollywood. Soon, he was asked to play parts in early films being produced there. Between his Olympic triumphs of 1912 and 1920, he thus became a supporting actor and began a minor career as an extra in Hollywood. As early as 1913, he was hanging out with the Hollywood crowd during the week and taking selected new friends surfing on the weekends. Duke was in and out of Los Angeles for the next 20 years. "I played chiefs -- Polynesian chiefs, Aztec chiefs, Indian chiefs... all kinds of chiefs," he once said. He also played parts as "a Hindu thief and an Arab prince." It wasn't until 1948 that he got a Polynesian part. He was Ua Nuka, or "the Big Rain," and he was cast opposite John "Duke" Wayne in the movie, The Wake of the Red Witch. During these years, Duke's fame spread. In 1915, he took his swimming and surfing skills to Australia, where he, "literally pushed that great sea-oriented country into surfing," wrote Lueras. His surfing at Freshwater, January 15, 1915, is legendary and his impact on Australian surfing is immense.