New documentary features narration by Jason Momoa, rare archival footage and new interviews with Laird Hamilton, Carissa Moore, Jack Johnson and others
Five-time Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamoku shattered records as a swimmer and brought surfing to the world while overcoming rampant racism in a lifetime of personal challenges. American Masters: Waterman — Duke: Ambassador of Aloha explores his life, career and struggles with prejudice. As a dark-skinned Pacific Islander, Kahanamoku broke through racial barriers with athletic accomplishments before Joe Louis, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson; yet relatively few outside of Hawaii know the details of his inspiring story and considerable impact. Narrated by Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones, Dune), this new documentary reveals Kahanamoku’s influence on surfing’s global spread, his life-saving achievements and the obstacles he conquered both within and outside the sporting world. American Masters: Waterman — Duke: Ambassador of Aloha premieres nationwide Tuesday, May 10 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings), http://pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app.
Using rare archival footage, contemporary visuals and new interviews with Laird Hamilton (big wave surfer), Kelly Slater (11-time world champion surfer), Carissa Moore (Olympic surfing gold medalist), Jack Johnson (musician), David Davis (author, “Waterman”), Moses Goods (playwright and actor, “Duke”), Dr. Isaiah Helekunihi Walker (author, “Waves of Resistance”), Fred Hemmings (world champion surfer), Kelia Moniz (world champion surfer), Kai Lenny (big wave surfer) and others. The documentary presents Kahanamoku’s rise to fame and how he became the face of a changing Hawaii as it evolved from an isolated island kingdom to a multi-ethnic American paradise.
After his appearance in the 1924 Olympics, Kahanamoku began dabbling in Hollywood and started to appear in movies by 1925. Unlike other Olympic champions who went on to further glory by starring in blockbusters, Kahanamoku’s dream of playing Tarzan in the movies never materialized. Instead, the role went to his friend and Olympic swimming rival Johnny Weissmuller. Though he represented Pacific Islanders in minor Hollywood roles, Kahanamoku became best known as the “Ambassador of Aloha” playing a vital role in supporting the burgeoning tourist industry.
By the time Hawaii became the 50th state, surfing had spread throughout America and around the world because of Kahanamoku’s influence and celebrity. Through his popular surfing exhibitions, he brought the sport to both coasts of the United States and to Freshwater Beach near Sydney, Australia. Additionally, he famously used his surfboard to save eight people from a shipwreck off Newport Beach in California, which was highly documented in news media.
Now in its 36th season on PBS, American Masters illuminates the lives and creative journeys of our nation’s most enduring artistic giants — those who have left an indelible impression on our cultural landscape — through compelling, unvarnished stories. Setting the standard for documentary film profiles, the series has earned widespread critical acclaim: 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — two News & Documentary Emmys, 14 Peabodys, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards, an Oscar, and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of more than 250 masters past and present, the American Masters website offers full episodes, film outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the podcast American Masters: Creative Spark, educational resources, digital original series and more. The series is a production of The WNET Group.
American Masters is available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.
American Masters: Waterman — Duke: Ambassador of Aloha is a production of Sidewinder Films, a division of The Foundation for Global Sports Development and Ungerleider-Ulich Productions in association with American Masters Pictures. Directed by Isaac Halasima. Produced by David Ulich and Dr. Steven Ungerleider. Michael Cascio is executive producer. Chet Thomas is Co-Producer. Michael Kantor is executive producer of American Masters.
Original series production funding for American Masters is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AARP, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Rosalind P. Walter Foundation, Cheryl & Philip Milstein family, Judith & Burton Resnick, Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, Vital Projects Fund, Philip & Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen & James S. Marcus, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation and public television viewers.
Websites: http://pbs.org/americanmasters, http://facebook.com/americanmasters, @PBSAmerMasters, http://youtube.com/AmericanMastersPBS, http://instagram.com/pbsamericanmasters #AmericanMastersPBS
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