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The Hula Hoop Girl

hula-hoopBy Pat Grant

Joan Anderson moved to LCG in 2006. She has three children living locally and one son in Bali. She and her late husband, Wayne, met in 1945 on Australia’s Bondi Beach while he was on leave as a P-38 pilot, and married soon after. Joan came to the US in 1946 as one of 10,000 Australian war brides. The marriage lasted 63 years.

When Joan visited Australia in 1957, she brought back a bamboo “hoop,” a hot item there. When she demonstrated how to use the hoop, she was told she looked like she was doing the Hawaiian hula and so the name “hula-hoop” was born.

Friends were interested in producing the hula-hoop, but Wayne was too busy with his own woodworking machinery company to market it. In spite of a “gentleman’s agreement” with a toy company, the Andersons received a very small amount while the toy made millions.

And, yes, the originator of the hula-hoop still “hoops.”

Last year Joan’s daughter was overheard at lunch when she remarked that her mother never received recognition as the originator of the hula-hoop. The lady at the next table said her daughter produced documentaries. As Joan says, “It was meant to be” and filming started at LCG.

In April, 2018, Joan enjoyed five days of red carpet treatment in New York for the premiere of “Hula-Hoop Girl” at the Tribeca Film Festival. Vogue Magazine and the San Diego Union-Tribune also interviewed her for their publications.

The hula-hoop is exhibited in the Smithsonian. Joan’s daughter thinks that her mother’s original bamboo hoop should be there with Joan’s name.

Joan is 94 and when she told Vogue she modeled in Australia she was told she still could. She Boogie boards, attends swim and stretch classes, gardens, and loves ballroom dancing. Joan’s mother lived to 103, so who knows?

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