Toward the end of his college days at Howard University, Aldridge descendant Charles Cromwell Coley married Harriet Purdy, a native Hawaiian athlete and performer and a descendant of King Kamehameha I.
Their only child, daughter, Laulupe Kaleilani Coley, was born in 1932 in Washington, D.C.
A post in the D.C. neighborhood blog Popville notes: “In March 1934, the Hi-Hat, a ‘smart new continental Cocktail Lounge and Cafe, styled in the modern manner,’ opened on the top floor of the Ambassador. The Post raved about its decorations: ‘The silvery iridescence of kapiz shell gives the mellow effect of moonlight on the water, and the imported blue and white mirrors trimmed in stainless steel surrounding the columns introduces a new note in modern interior decoration.’ The Hi-Hat Lounge quickly became a popular nightspot, offering top names in the nightclub circuit. Its opening act was Princess Harriet Purdy, a Hawaiian who strummed a ukulele while crooning languorous songs in her native tongue.”
Harriet and C.C. Coley divorced in the late 1930s. Their daughter was educated on the mainland, but married and settled in Hawai’i.
Yearbook of Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, New York, 1950.
Harriet also returned to Hawai’i where she continued to preserve the island’s traditional arts and culture. In this video posted to Youtube, Harriet Purdy dances hula as Sonny Chillingworth, Myrna English and Billy Hew Len perform “Kaula Ili”:
Harriet Keonaonalaulani Purdy Kauaihilo, 96, of Kapolei, a professional hula dancer, died Aug. 26 in Kapolei. She was born in Waimea. She is survived by son Bill, daughters Laulupe K. Dempster and Harriet Clark, hanai sister Olive S. Purdy, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grand-children. Private graveside services. — Honolulu Bulletin, 11 September 2002.
HARRIET KEONAONALAULANI PURDY KAUAIHILO, 96, of Kapolei, died Aug. 26, 2002. Born in Waimea, Hawai’i. A high diver and swimmer, known as the Hawaiian Human Cannonball at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier in the early 1930s; and professional Island hula dancer. Survived by daughters, Laulupe Dempster and Harriet Clark; son, Bill; grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; hanai sister, Olive Purdy. Private graveside services. Arrangements by Ultimate Cremation Services of Hawai’i.— Honolulu Advertiser, 11 September 2002.
www.popville.com, “Streets of Washington Presents — The Ambassador Hotel, catering to ‘experienced travelers’ (Formerly at 14th and K St, NW)”
2 thoughts on “The Hawaiian princess.”
I was browsing the internet for info on my cousin Harriet Purdy and came across this. Thank you for including her in your family history. She was an absolutely amazing person, the most authentic example of Hawaiian aloha I have ever known. She lived an amazing and adventurous life! She was a human canon ball, diver, hula dancer, socialite and very close friend/cousin to my grandmother. I loved her dearly.
I was astonished to read about her amazing life! Thanks for reaching out!