The Sisterhood of Surfing
Posted on February 18, 2013
When I think of female surfers and the history of surfing, Gidget is the first thing that springs to my mind. In 1957 Austrian-born Holocaust survivor Frederick Kohner, titled his novel Gidget, The Little Girl With Big Ideas. His novel was based on the adventures of his daughter Kathy, her friends and the surf culture of Malibu Point.
In 1956 at age 15, her mother urged her to explore the outdoors, so Kathy bought her first surfboard for $15. She instantly fell for the lifestyle and pushed for acceptance from the other surfers, sometimes bribing her way to local status by trading her peanut butter sandwiches for chances to ride. Kathy hung out with notable surfers such as Miki Dora, Mickey Munoz, Dewey Weber, Tom Morey, and Nat Young, and was soon dubbed ‘Gidget’ a fusion of girl and midget.
Based on what Kathy told her father about her trips to Malibu, and after he discovered and read her journal detailing her surfing adventures, he went on to write Gidget, The Little Girl with Big Ideas, which sold over 500,000 copies.
Several years later in 1959 Frederick Kohner sold the movie rights to Columbia Pictures for $50,000, where he had been a screen writer. He gave five percent to his daughter.