Kim Kahana

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Kim Kahana, Sr. (born 1930) is an American actor, stunt performer[1] and action choreographer of Hawaiian and Japanese descent. He has done stunts for over 300 movies and television programs and runs a stunt school in Groveland, Florida that has trained over 15,000 students.[2]

Early life and military service[edit]

Unable to read or write, Kahana dropped out of school in third grade. At age 13 he hitchhiked across the United States by himself, sometimes stealing in order to eat.[3]

Film and stunt career[edit]

Kahana began his work in film as an extra. When he saw that stunt performers were paid more than extras, he pursued a stunt career, training with Yakima Canutt and John Eppers.[4]

During the 1960s and 70s, Kahana performed and coordinated fight scenes and stunts (often uncredited) for numerous TV shows, including 28 episodes of Kung Fu, and made numerous appearances on other programs, including Vega$, Magnum P.I., Charlie's Angels, Quincy and Fantasy Island.

In 1968, Kahana played a leading role in the Hanna Barbera children's adventure serial Danger Island that appeared on the Banana Splits Adventure Hour. His character, Chongo, was a mute castaway from a shipwrecked merchant marine ship who communicated only using hand signs and bird calls. As the comedic sidekick to fellow castaway Elihu Morgan (played by Rockne Tarkington), Chongo's antics prompted his friend to call out, "Uh-oh Chongo!", a catchphrase that became popular with children during the following decade that would follow Kahana in his work and personal life.[4]

Over his first three decades of work as a stunt performer, Kahana broke his bones more than 60 times. By the 1980s, Kehana had moved away from doing "life-threatening" stunts while still continuing to coordinate action scenes and perform his own stunt work.[3]

Kahana has served as a member of the Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures and spent eight years on the Screen Actors Guild's Safety Investigative Team and the Stunt Safety Committee. He runs a production company called Stunt Action & Safety Coordinator, Inc. that runs second unit production for major motion pictures.[5] He opened the Kahana Stunt School in 1972 to train performers in stunt work and safety, as well as how to navigate the motion picture and TV industries.[2][6]

Other work[edit]

In addition to teaching stunts, he is a martial arts and hand-to-hand combat instructor and weapons expert.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Kim Kahana had three sons (Tony, Rick, and Kim Jr.) and one daughter (Debbie), all of whom teach at Kahana's school, hold black belts in karate and have also performed in numerous blockbuster films. In 2005 Kahana Sr. married his wife Sandra, who works as the lead administrator for the stunt school.[7]

On July 24, 2012, Kim Kahana's son Rick Kalua Kahana died at his home in Canoga Park, California.[8]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Gene Scott Freese (2014). Hollywood Stunt Performers, 1910s-1970s: A Biographical Dictionary, 2d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476614700. 
  2. ^ a b "About Us". Kahana Stunt School. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Martinez, Al (14 January 1985). "He is a tiger dozing in the sun now, a predator at peace with the jungle. : A Smile on the Face of a Tiger". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Rutherford, Mike. "Interview: Kim Kahana (Chongo)". Doin' the Banana Split. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "About Kim Kahana". Kahana Stunts. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Doug Smith (March 22, 1987). "Shooting Pains : Students at Kim Kahana's Stunt School Learn That Failure Means Fractures for Those Taking Falls on Film". LA Times. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  7. ^ "Instructors". Kahana Stunt School. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "Rick Kahana, Respected Stunt Performer". The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 

External links[edit]