Willie Duarte (1921-2007) started Duarte’s U-Drive &Tours on Kauai in the early 1950s, and by the time he sold the company and Orchid Island Tours on the Big Island to Amfac in 1969, he’d expanded his operations and became such a financial success that he was known locally as Willie “Golden Boy” Duarte, the U-Drive king of Kauai.
Among the many acquaintances he made was samba singer and motion picture actress Carmen Miranda.
Upon her arrival at the Lihue Airport terminal in 1951, Willie Duarte was there to bedeck her with a flower lei.
Duarte also served as the Shah of Iran’s driver in 1958, and in 1959, radio and television broadcaster and entertainer Arthur Godfrey presented Duarte with one of his trademark ukulele.
It had rained when Duarte was composing his song, “It’s Sunny On Kauai,” in 1956, and when he later sang his song at a party in Kilauea, it rained 42 inches in 31 hours.
Soon after, while he sang his song at a party in Wainiha, another 18 inches fell, prompting his friend, Charlie Fern, editor of The Garden Island newspaper, to jokingly report that he’d try to get a law passed making it illegal for Willie to sing the song.
On yet another occasion, when Duarte brought his hula girls to the Lihue Airport to greet San Francisco Mayor George Christopher, he again sang “It’s Sunny On Kauai,” while somebody held an umbrella over him during a pouring rainstorm.
And, Honolulu Advertiser columnist Bob Krauss once wrote that everybody on Kauai was blaming Duarte for a recent big rain, because he was heard humming “It’s Sunny On Kauai” just before the downpours commenced.
Duarte, with his beaming wide smile, had a peculiar sense of humor.
While driving Krauss to the Lihue Airport, he pointed to a tree and said, “That’s a government tree.”
“What do you mean, a government tree?” asked Krauss.
“Eucalyptus,” which he pronounced, “You clipped us.”
Willie “Golden Boy” Duarte and his wife, Beatrice, had two children: Mary Walsh and Alan Duarte.
Source: The Garden Island