'Johnny Lingo' cast, crew hold Laie reunion

Cast and crew members of the 1969 Latter-day Saint film "Johnny Lingo" reunited on July 29, 2010, in the BYU–Hawaii Cannon Activities Center to celebrate the cinematic Polynesian fable's perennial popularity over the past 40 years. At the same time, they heard from two of its main characters, Naomi Kaho'ilua Wilson, who acted in the role of Mahana, and Joseph Ah Quin, who played her father, Moki.

The BYU–Hawaii-based Mormon Pacific Historical Society and the Laie Community Association co-sponsored the reunion as part of the annual Laie Days, which, similar to the Days of '47 in Utah, celebrates Laie's Latter-day Saint pioneer heritage going back to 1865.

The 24-minute "Johnny Lingo," filmed on location by the Brigham Young University Motion Picture Studio for the church's Sunday School auxiliary, tells how a Polynesian trader played by the late Hawaiian actor, Makee Blaisdell (also known as Blaizdel MaKee), gets ridiculed after he offers Moki the excessive bride-price of eight cows for Mahana. Moki and others regard Mahana as ugly and a poor match. They calculate she is worth one cow at most, at a time when other women boast of being a "four-cow" and even a "five-cow wife." When the couple return from their extended honeymoon, Moki and the villagers are stunned to learn how beautiful Mahana has become, while Lingo explains to Mr. Harris, the local shopkeeper played by the late Francis Urry, that he had loved Mahana since they were children, and it was important for her to know how he cherised her. The film, which does not mention Mormonism, has proved consistently popular all over the world, as demonstrated by the fact that at least once a year, every year since it was produced, Wilson is asked to speak on her role as Mahana, and fans still recognize the Hawaiian beauty wherever she travels.

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