Who is Gidget, anyway?


the legacy of gidget.jpg The first time I associated myself with the character "Gidget" was in junior high art class where I made a bookmark that said "Gidget" on one side and "Moondoggie" on the other-- I was a romantic at an early age.

I had recently seen, and fallen in love with, the 1959 movie Gidget (and with it, its companions Gidget Goes Hawaiian, and Gidget Goes to Rome). In girlie games of passing notes in class, "Gidget" was often my nickname of choice.

Yep, I still have it!

A few years later, I started surfing, probably in part so I could truly be like my "namesake." Almost immediately, I was hooked on the sport, and (despite my minimal talent) I loved, and still love, being in the ocean, a place where I feel truly connected to our Creator. By then "Gidget" was the nickname I used for notes, email, IM, you name it.

Her legacy had become a part of my own identity, in a fun, but real way.

Then, in college, I discovered that Gidget was indeed, a real person! The movies were based on a book-- it was also called Gidget, and was written by Frederick Kohner, and based on the experiences of his daughter, Kathy, as she learned to surf among all the guys in Malibu.

I read it and of course, loved it. I have two copies, in fact.

My copy of "Gidget," autographed.

The summer after I graduated from grad school, CSULB had a special event through the campus extension, a visit from Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, aka Gidget. I was probably the youngest one there in a small classroom with maybe 50 attendees.

It was amazing-- she shared pictures, history and excerpts from her diaries. I felt like fiction had come alive as I met the woman whose legacy had so impacted me.

the real gidget

me and the real Gidget

Gidget is an icon in surfing; many say the Gidget movies are what catapulted surfing from a small brotherhood of guys to a mainstream phenomenon. And she definitely kickstarted the female surfing movement.

Although I love surfing, I, on the other hand, am quite the casual surfer, hitting the waves only really from June to September. So, in a way, I'm not really anything like Gidget was.

But I think there's a part of me that still identifies with, and is inspired by her immortal character. She was bold, stepping into a realm that didn't welcome her at first, but embraced her as its darling eventually. She saw something she wanted to do and learn, and she made it happen.

Legacy is important to me. I don't want my life to be meaningless. She didn't mean to, but the real Gidget powerfully changed a small corner of the world.

I don't need an entire industry created due to my legacy, but I do hope I can have a lasting impact on my own little corner-- my home and the people who enter it, and my community.

Get into Gidget fun: 

Do you identify with any celebrities or historical figures?

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updated May 2014

Prayer for Today

Just came across this... twice!