Walla Walla native Adam West married a Pukapuka princess

Before he was Batman, he was a handsome Hawaii guy.

Before he played the ultimate comic book detective Batman, Adam West broke onto the scene as an altogether more realistic TV sleuth. In 1961, five years before the Caped Crusader swung his way into the Swingin' Sixties in the camp classic Batman, West joined the cast of The Detectives, a crime show in serious transition.

The Detectives was changing networks (ABC to NBC) and show length (30 minutes expanded to 60). To boot, the clean-cut young Mark Goddard (of future Lost in Space fame) jumped ship. Enter another rising star with a strong jawline — Adam West.

West had plenty of screen experience under his belt (metaphorical belt, not utility belt) but largely small guest roles on Westerns like Sugarfoot, Maverick and Lawman. His gig as Det. Sgt. Steve Nelson on The Detectives offered the Walla Walla, Washington native his first major lead role. Around the same time, he made memorable appearances on Bonanza and The Rifleman.

To help promote this new face to American audiences, the publicity campaign ramped up. Which is how you got fun headlines in newspapers at the time like this:


We found that in The South Bend Tribune from January 13, 1962. The story was a little late to the game — West married his Polynesian bride back in 1957. In fact, the couple was close to divorce. They split in 1962. But journalists and publicists sure had fun with the boy from Walla Walla falling for a girl from Puka Puka.

"His name is Adam West. He was born and raised in Walla Walla, Wash. He's married to an honest-to-goodness princess from Puka Puka who encouraged him to leave journalism and turn to action," the columnist wrote.

Pukapuka — once called "Danger Island," which sounds like a 1960s TV show in itself — is a sparsely populated atoll in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. In the 1920s, a writer from Cleveland named Robert Dean Frisbie sailed into Pukapuka and settled down. Frisbie fell in love with a local teenager named Ngatokorua-a-mataa. The would have five children, including Ngatokorua "Nga" Frisbie, future second wife of Adam West. The Frisbie family drifted north to Hawaii.

Let's jump back to 1961 (a big year in this story). Elaine Frisbie, Nga's sister, started the Puka Puka Otea, a Polynesian show at the Queen's Surf restaurant on Waikiki Beach. Next to the Aquarium. 

Nga Frisbie was a dancer in Honolulu. In 1957, she married West, who was working "little theater" work in Hawaii. The papers described her as "the girl next door." 

"With royal approval from the Princess, they returned to the States," the Tribune reported. This being a Hollywood piece from the early 1960s, it's possible the press was being a little generous with the whole "Princess" thing. To further sell the handsome actor as a man of action, the journalist pumped up West's adventure credentials. A favorite hobby of his was exploring underwater caves along the Pacific Coast. The photo at the top of the page is West in his scuba gear, ready to do just that.  

His first week in Los Angeles, West landed a screen test with MGM and shortly found himself working as an actor. His career sped off like the Batmobile.

As we mentioned, West and Nga Frisbie divorced in 1962. He would marry again for the third and final time in 1970.

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mememememe66 32 months ago
I am always baffled by people who use this site as if it’s “ Messenger “ on Facebook.🙄
Andybandit 32 months ago
Adam West was a good looking man. Puka Puka was lucky to be married to him.
daDoctah 32 months ago
"Danger Island" wasn't exactly a TV series in the sixties, but it was a segment of "The Banana Splits Show" starting in 1968. Starring Frank Aletter, Jan-Michael Vincent ("Airwolf"), and Ronne Troup (daughter of the guy who wrote the song "Route 66").
Jeffrey daDoctah 32 months ago
Ronnie Troup is the daughter of actor Bobby Troup, one of the stars of EMERGENCY!
BenSchockley daDoctah 32 months ago
Danger Island was also a season of Archer.
justjeff 32 months ago
I found this on a site called Panethos...

Baden-Baden, Germany
Bela Bela, South Africa
Bella Bella, British Columbia, Canada
Bidbid, Oman
Budge Budge, India
Bulo Bulo, Bolivia
Chake Chake, Tanzania
Dandan, Saipan
Dum Dum, India
Holhol, Djibouti
Kankan, Guinea
Lomaloma, Fiji
Loop Loop, Washington, USA
New York, New York, USA
Pago Pago, American Samoa
Pare-Pare, Indonesia
Paw Paw, Michigan, USA
Paw Paw, West Virginia, USA
Pukapuka, Cook Islands
Puka-Puka, French Polynesia
Taltal, Chile
Tal Tal, South Africa
Wagga Wagga, Australia
Walla Walla, Washington, USA
Xai-Xai, Mozambique

...and I think that Dum Dum (in India) is where many of our public officials come from...
LoveMETV22 justjeff 32 months ago
Interesting, thank you thank you for the share. LoL on the India comment, funny funny.
Zip justjeff 32 months ago
On a slightly similar but slightly different name game, when I used to work at a big insurance company I used to look over applications we would get from some place called "Dededo" in Guam.
Every time I would get one of those I would sing The Police's "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" in my head.
KJExpress Zip 32 months ago
That sort of thing happens to me a lot. Since I grew up listening to music that my mother would play, my "trigger" play list spans quite a few decades. 📻🎶
Michael 32 months ago
In 1811, the Tonquin arrived in the Sandwich Islands, having gone around the tip of South America. I guess they wanted supplies, but a few of the locals decided to ship, so there were Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest in 1811. Astoria, Oregon, is considered the oldest city in the Northwest, celebrating their bicentennial ten years ago. Even though it was a trading fort in 1811. My great, great, great grandfather was there.
Peter_Falk_Fan 32 months ago
He married a girl from "Danger Island"? "Uh-oh, Chongo!" Batman is supposed to marry Catwoman.
denny 32 months ago
West went on to marry Marcelle Lear, ex-wife to John Lear, the airplane heir,
justjeff 32 months ago
Walla Walla... Puka Puka... makes me think of just one thing.... Pizza! Pizza!
justjeff justjeff 32 months ago
...and I'm now up to six (of the 10) fonts finished for my next release package...
Pacificsun justjeff 32 months ago
Oh I like "Office Manager."

For a TrueType font what would you recommend for writing a story? About 13,000 words at 14pt font. I'm always debating and experimenting with that dilemma! Help!!!
justjeff Pacificsun 32 months ago
Office Manager is my latest one! For your project, I've always had an affinity for Palatino.
Jeffrey justjeff 32 months ago
What does JNL stand for? HUH?
justjeff Jeffrey 32 months ago
My initials. They are an additonal "identifier" for my typographic work...
Pacificsun 32 months ago
Wow! The Detective TV series has some hefty credentials!! I'll let everyone check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Detectives_(1959_TV_series)

So MeTV, why aren't we getting a look at *this* show, representing classic (retro) television? I don't think anyone would complain. Tell you what, I'll donate a timeslot. Time for Alfred Hitchcock to take a rest. Oh, okay. I'll even give up the Three Stooges. Or better yet, Monk.
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 32 months ago
Yes replace Monk.
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 32 months ago
Did you want me to add the word ... pulezze for you!
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 32 months ago
Well I was responding to your suggestion, but if you think it will help convince the powers that be at METV sure! 😘
Jeffrey Pacificsun 32 months ago
Gilligan's Island should be removed from their line-up.
MrsPhilHarris Jeffrey 32 months ago
Is it still on? How many years has it been on I wonder?
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