The late Wayne Deforest Anderson and Joan Anderson, now 94 and the oldest person featured in a film at Tribeca, were the couple who brought the original bamboo Hula Hoop to this country from Joan’s native country of Australia. In 1958, there was a handshake deal made with a Wham-O executive who was, at the time, a friend. That “friend” then went on to manufacture and monetize it, giving neither credit nor funds to the Anderson’s.
Sounds like Wham-O had their own version of Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder who took the brothers Maurice “Mac” and Richard “Dick” McDonald idea and then pushed them aside to start the fast-food franchise across the country (and world).
Hula Girl, produced and directed by the husband/wife team of Amy Hill and Chris Riess is the (up until now) untold story behind one of the biggest fads in modern American history that began in 1958. At 94 years of age, Joan Anderson sets the record straight. Despite the betrayal, the story also tells of a life well lived.
The project actually came about because Hill’s mother overheard a woman talking about her own 94 year-old mother and her wishes that someone would actually document the true story behind the Hula Hoop craze. Hill’s mother offered her daughter’s services. Hill drove to Carlsbad and sat down with Anderson and looked over all the documents and the feature film was born.
And yes, at 94, Joan Anderson can still Hula Hoop. Watch the trailer: