Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson was born in Hawaii to a Hawaiian mother and Caucasian father. As civilians, they were living in Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack, and stayed until forced to give up their home after the end of the war. Her mother was a hula teacher, so Dorinda made her debut as a hula dancer at the age of three. She graduated from Punahou School in Honolulu, then attended the University of Hawaii, where she was spotted by a local TV producer and invited to be the hula dancer on a weekly show, “Campus Canteen.”
When Dorinda was 18, she won the KGMB-TV “Flight to Fame” contest for a hula performance, which took her to the mainland for the first time. While there, she went on to visit her father’s family in Missouri. After attending college in Kansas City, she became a flight attendant for a national airline, and then married Larry Nicholson, a photographer, who is also a designer, illustrator, and multimedia producer. Dorinda and Larry work as a team in producing their books and DVD’s.
After the birth of their four sons, Dorinda earned undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in Counseling Psychology. She worked for a large community mental health center in Kansas City as a psychotherapist.
Dorinda’s family lived near the tip of the Pearl City Peninsula, only a few hundred yards from the USS Utah, the first ship to be attacked on 12/7/41.
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She has published numerous travel articles, and authored a series of educational filmstrips for children about the history, culture, industry, and land of Hawaii. These filmstrips were distributed nationally, and won a silver medal from ITVA. She also originated the concept for “A Woman’s Year,” an organizational calendar for women, which was published by Hallmark for some 15 years.
Pearl Harbor Child is her first book, followed by Pearl Harbor Warriors, winner of several national awards. In response to numerous requests, two DVD’s have also been produced and are available here on her website.
The Pearl Harbor Child DVD tells Dorinda’s story, plus segments telling the eyewitness stories of both military and civilian survivors.
The Pearl Harbor Warriors book and DVD tells the story of friendship overcoming hatred between an American Marine who was stationed on board the USS West Virginia, and a Japanese torpedo pilot who was in the second wave of the attack.