Gidget Goes to Ocean City for the Art of Surfing Festival
Gidget used to surf the waves of Malibu as a teenager, now
she travels the country and tells her story to others, including how she got
back on her board at 60. Gidget’s message is we can all face our challenges in
life whether it be old age or doing something we have never done before…You are
never too old to try and to move past your limitations. (Gidget with artist Ron Croci)
I have gotten to know Gidget over the past 3 summers when
she comes to Ocean City, New Jersey for the Art of Surfing Festival. Her name is short for “Girl Midget,” the
nickname given to her by the surfers she hung out with. She is an inspiration
to all who meet her. The energetic icon is keeping her dreams alive and also the
memory of the story her father wrote about her as a teenager which became the TV
show “Gidget,” starring Sally Field and the popular movie “Gidget,” starring
There is also a documentary on her life, “The Accidental
Icon: The Story of the Real Gidget” and a play called “Gidget” that opened in
Chicago with hopes of taking it to Broadway. She is also a mother of two sons
and 4 grandchildren and wife to Marv, a retired professor. She also works at
Duke’s in Malibu, a restaurant for the namesake Duke Kahanamoku, the famous
Hawaiian surfer born in 1890. As a
hostess, she gets to meet the public and talk about the life of a surfer. (Pictured with Mayor Sal Perillo).
I am amazed how close Gidget, Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, was to
her father, Frederick Kohner, a Hollywood screenwriter, and how she confided in
him about the surfer boys of Malibu. Once I asked Gidget what music she
listened to growing up, guessing the answer would be the Beach Boys. Astonishingly
she said, “No, I was a surfer before the Beach Boys!” She listened to Elvis and
she even knew Jan & Dean when they were playing in a garage.
Gidget has been interviewed by ‘The Today Show’ and is
invited to speak around the country for many charitable events and to seniors.
She loves Ocean City, for its nice people, family atmosphere and the safe
feeling as she walks around the area.
Gidget Goes to Cape
This year we planned a trip to Cape May which she had heard
so much about. She was not disappointed and had the excitement of a teenager
taking in all the sites- The Lobster House docks, the outdoor mall for shopping,
and the view of the lighthouse from the beach and all the old restored Bed
& Breakfasts. She raved about her meals at The Inlet in Somers Point, The Lobster
House in Cape May, The Surf Café in Ocean City and the Scarborough Inn. She
even got to go to Wheaton Village in Millville on her way back to the airport
to see glass blowing.
It is amazing how many people were affected by the TV show, movie and the book. She met a woman who used to write to her father, when the lady
was a teenager. The lady still has all the letters Gidget’s father wrote back
to her. They soon became fast friends. Gidget also has all the diaries she
wrote as a teenager.
Gidget Goes to the
There is only one of the original surfers she keeps in
contact with, but the present day surf community has embraced her and locally
she was in town for the Art of Surfing Festival on the Music Pier hosted by
Steve and Phil from the Sagemore Art Gallery in Ocean City. At the festival great
surf-related artwork can be purchased and you have an opportunity to meet the
Every year this free event coincides with the Boardwalk Art
Show, around the first week of August. This year I enjoyed talking to Bogy (pictured with City Administrator Jim Rutala), Jon
Baker and his wife Kristin and baby Noah. I was hoping Gidget would meet Pat Croce,
one of this year’s sponsors with his news drink, “Skinny Water.” Also on hand
were the “Save the Life Saving Station,” Christian Surfers and Brendan Borek Memorial groups. There was also great music every night. Thanks to events like this, we
can get to enjoy those who love surfing and the artists who bring the ocean to
life. Don’t miss next year!