MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN: Happy Birthdate, Lehua Waipahu!

By Betsy J. Green

Lehua Waipahu was the fake name of an actress in “The Bottle Imp,” in which she co-starred with Sessue Hayakawa in 1917. (That wasn’t his real name either, but that’s another story.) Anyway, Lehua was actually Margaret Loomis, who was born on May 27, 1893.

The movie takes place in Hawaii, and the studio claimed that it was filmed there as well. But guess what! That was also a bunch of “movie-magazine malarkey.” Much of the filming was done at the Gillespie estate in Montecito.

The folks in Hawaii were not amused. “It is … claimed that ‘the setting of the story is picturesque Hawaii … The truth of these claims must be judged by the members of the audience.” – News (Maui, Hawaii), September 17, 1917

Betsy’s Way Back When book — Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions — is now available in local bookstores and at This is the seventh book in her series on the history of Santa Barbara. Learn more at​.


Written by bjgreen

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author. Her books are available in local bookstores, and at (Shop local if you can.) Learn more at

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