‘Mutiny’ in Samoa

tarita_brandoSpeaking of Samoa, where I served as a Mormon missionary in the mid-1960s, one day a number of us were traveling from Upolu, the main island in Western Samoa [now just called Samoa] and Tutuila, the main island in American Samoa. In those days Western Samoa maintained a World War II-era grass landing strip at Faleolo, about 20 miles east of Apia: The runway was too short to accommodate jets, which flew into Tafuna, American Samoa, so Polynesian Airlines used WWII-era DC3s. We were very grateful for those old workhorse planes, because the alternative was a $5, 9-12-hour overnight boat ride [oka, oka i le ma’i vasa mata’utia].

I’ve forgotten the other members of our traveling party, but I’ll always remember a couple of the other passengers:Marlon Brando and his Tahitian-Chinese wife, Tarita Teriipaia. They had met a few years earlier during the remake of the movie Mutiny on the Bounty, which was partially filmed in Tahiti. Brando, who was sort of short, stood off by himself and remained aloof; but Tarita checked out all of the handicrafts in the airport, seemed genuinely interested in the Samoans, and gave us a big smile.

Of course as a missionary, I didn’t pay any attention to the fact that she was wearing a tres jolie Polynesian outfit and was very attractive.


  1. Is Tarita related to Iona Teriipaia? He has a grand daughter named Tarita which would make me assume so.

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