Hawaii child actress, singer Donna Butterworth dies at 62

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Donna Butterworth in 2016
  • Photo courtesy of Donna Butterworth Donna Butterworth and Elvis Presley

HILO — Donna Butterworth, a child actress and singer who co-starred with Elvis Presley in the 1966 movie “Paradise, Hawaiian Style,” died Tuesday at Hilo Medical Center following a long illness. She was 62.

Born in Philadelphia on Feb. 23, 1956, Butterworth was 3 when she moved to Hawaii with her family.


She was 9 and already a showbiz veteran when she got the call to film with Elvis. By then, she had performed with entertainer Don Ho; released two singles, “Sailor Boy” and “California Sunshine Boy” on a national record label; appeared on “The Hollywood Palace,” “The Dean Martin Show,” “The Andy Williams Show” and “The Danny Kaye Show”; and garnered a Golden Globe nomination for most promising newcomer for her role in the 1965 Jerry Lewis comedy “The Family Jewels.”

In “Paradise, Hawaiian Style,” Butterworth played Jan Kohana, daughter of the business partner of Elvis’ character.

Butterworth sang several duets with the King of Rock ’n’ Roll and gained a cult following, but her acting career was short-lived.

She appeared in “Little Leathernecks,” an unsold sitcom pilot that aired as an episode of “Summer Fun,” a seven-week 1966 ABC-TV summer-replacement series, and “A Boy Called Nuthin’,” a two-part 1967 episode of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” that starred Ron Howard.

As an adult, Butterworth sang professionally and recorded a CD in Hawaii in the early 2000s.

A private memorial and celebration of life will be held at a later date.


Butterworth is survived by her mother, Isabella Chalfant of Las Vegas; brother, William T. Butterworth of Las Vegas; nieces, nephews and cousins.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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