GIDGET, A FEMALE SURFING ICON

di Erika Scafuro

 

 

«The waves smashed against the dunes line one long, noisy, mad steamroller. I slid on the board and dug my hands into the water and shot over the foam like a speedboat. […] A wave and another wave, high as houses, but I didn’t care. […] A few more strokes and I was beyond the surfline. I couldn’t see the coast any more, so high rose the wall of waves before me. I whirled around and brought the board in position. There was no waiting. I shot toward the first set of forming waves and rose. I stood it. I have to come in standing, I told my self. I gritted my teeth. I was lifted up, sky high…and went down. […] “Shoot it, Gidget. Shoot the curl!!!”. My own voice had broken away from me and I could only hear the echo coming from a great distance».

 

 

Summer 1956, Malibu beach, California. Kathy Kohner Zuckerman is a pretty girl of 15 who is impressed to watch a group of young boys spending their lives searching and riding for the perfect wave at Malibu Pier.Kathy falls in love with the art of surfing, she decides to buy a surfboard and try to catch waves. Those guys make her a member of the crew: «They named her as they did the others, for her most notable characteristics. She was a girl, one of the few who surfed». Here comes Gidget a set of – girl and -midget (a small girl).

 

 

Her father, Frederick Kohner, a Hollywood screenwriter, became amused with his daughter’s tale of her Summer days. So Kohner writes a book that becomes a bestseller, Gidget – a work of fiction – though is based on his daughter’s personal experience.
Gidget becomes a source of inspiration for the young girls of America: the sunny and lively Californian girl in bikini, tanned, surfing the waves at Malibu Beach who wants to be free from the parent’s control and to show her independence. It’s the story of a teenage girl, with her own troubles, experiencing the Summer of ripe time and trying to be accepted by a group of older male surfers. Simple that she has become a female icon surfing across the world.
The character of Gidget, created by Frederick Kohner, became so popular that a movie was shot in 1959 as well a sitcom in 1965.
The real Gidget had spent her Summers surfing until she went to college, but despite being 80 years old today she keeps on to be a female surfing icon.

 

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