Waikiki Avenue (1937): Frank Tuttle’s Oscar Winning Musical Comedy, Starring Bing Crosby


This happy-go-lucky musical comedy, set in Hawaii, and directed by Frank Tuttle, was deisgned as a vehcile for singer-star Bing Crosby, then at the height of his popularity.

Crosby plays a public relations man who works for a pineapple company. He and his friend escort a beauty contest winner (Shirley Ross) and her friend (Martha Raye) on a tour of the islands. But the winning beauty finds the islands boring and wants to return to the mainland, forcing Crosby to take take drastic measures to keep her there.

The song “Sweet Leilani,” which won the Oscar, was a huge hit for Crosby, in his first album that sold over one million copies.

The Oscar caused a scandal for it defeated George and Ira Gershwin’s seminal “They Can’t Take That Away fromMe,” from the Astaire-Rogers musical, “Shall We Dance.”

The supporting ensemble includes Leif Erickson, Grady Sutton, and Anthony Quinn, before he became a star.

The Oscar win was attributed to the fact that all members of the unions and guilds (including the Screen Extras Guild) voted for the final ballots.


Oscar Nominations: 2

Song: Sweet Leilani, music and lyrics by Harry Owens

Dance Direction: Leroy Prinz

Oscar Awards: 1


Oscar Context:

The winner of the Dance Direction Award, which was discontinued in 1938, was Hermes Pan for “A Damsel in Distress.”