Soundings: Season 3 Episode 6

Kathy Kohner aka “Gidget”

On the Gidget enterprise, surfing Malibu in the 1950s, feminism, Malibu’s cachet among the Hollywood intelligentsia, the beach, and boys.

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Kathy Kohner, aka “Gidget,” has quite literally led a storied life: she is the subject of the iconic novel Gidget, which took off in the late-’50s and landed #7 on The Los Angeles Times Bestseller list just ahead of Kerouac’s On the Road. As a construct and a character, Gidget looms largely in surfing’s history and drove its popularization throughout Southern California. Kohner’s father, a Hollywood screenwriter at the time, created “[the character] from fictionalized accounts of his daughter’s adolescent escapades at Malibu, shared with him from her teenage diary.” Kohner, who currently holds the title of “Ambassador of Aloha” at Duke’s Restaurant, sits down with Jamie Brisick to share some of her original diary entries and talk about what led her to surfing, her memories of Miki Dora, the rise of competitiveness in the water, radical non-conformity, what Gidget means to her now, and how Malibu has changed.

Produced by Jonathan Shifflett.
Music by Paz Lenchantin.

Feature image by Photo by Jerod Harris/WireImage/Getty Images.