Poncie Ponce - US Actor and Comedian Aug 3, 2013 10:47:38 GMT 1
Post by Laurence on Aug 3, 2013 10:47:38 GMT 1
Poncie Ponce (born Ponciano Hernandez) was an American actor, musician and stand-up comedian. Born in Maui, Hawaii, he moved to Los Angeles, where from 1959–1963, he played the role of cab driver Kazuo Kim in the Warner Bros. detective series, Hawaiian Eye on the ABC television network. In 1961, Ponce was at the forefront of a growing national interest in martial arts when he opened a karate studio in North Hollywood.
Born in Maui, Hawaii on April 10, 1933. He was called to serve his country for two years in the United States Army. Deployed to Germany in 1953, Ponce honed his artistic talents in Munich's clubs.The entertainment bug bit him, and upon return to civilian life, Ponce made the rounds of Hawaii's local talent contests and television and radio stations. Encouraged by Hawaii tourist audiences, Ponce decided to try his luck in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles automobile dealer Bob Yeakel broadcast an 18-hour weekly amateur talent show called Rocket to Stardom from his Wilshire Boulevard showroom. The broadcast was split over two local stations, KHJ-TV Channel 9 and KTTV-TV Channel 11. Ponce made a series of appearances on the local show in the late 1950s and was soon working at Ben Blue's Santa Monica night club. Warner Bros. scouts happened to catch his act at Ben Blue's and thought he might be a good fit for their new production Hawaiian Eye. There was one stipulation to the contract, that he change his name to Poncie Ponce. He came to national attention in 1959 as the wise-cracking cab driver Kazuo Kim, the series ran for four years. Kazuo Kim was known for his trademark straw hat and ubiquitous ukulele, as a sometimes informant for the detectives. The show's intro showed Kazuo Kim floating in the ocean on an inner tube, wearing the hat and plucking his uke.
The show led to parts in a handful of films, most notably as part of a stock car racing pit crew on Elvis Presley's team in the 1968 Speedway.
After retiring, Ponce spent time with his wife of over five decades and his grandchildren. He died on July 19, 2013 at 80.