Ensign Nellie Forbush
A U.S. Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, Nellie Forbush left home to see what and who else the greater world had to offer. Beloved by her fellow nurses and the Seabees, she is independent, optimistic and virtuous. Much to her surprise, she falls in love with local Frenchman Emile de Becque. When Nellie realizes that her ingrained racial prejudices stand in the way of her relationship with Emile, she courageously conquers her biases, embracing a new life of compassion and empathy.
Emile de Becque
A handsome French planter, Emile de Becque has lived on the island in exile for 16 years. He has two children, Jerome and Ngana, by his late Polynesian wife. Despite his past – he fled France after killing a man – Emile is an honorable man of great bravery. Though he initially chooses to remain with Nellie rather than aid in a dangerous spy mission, he ultimately joins Cable on the assignment. In the end, he safely returns home to Nellie, who has embraced his two children.
A beloved – and blunt – entrepreneurial Tonkinese woman, Bloody Mary is clever, resourceful and unflappable. Though she once worked for a French planter, she now runs her own business, selling souvenirs to the navy men while paying her native craftspeople generously. Above all, Bloody Mary wants the best possible life for her daughter, Liat.
Bloody Mary's young, beautiful and innocent Tonkinese daughter, Liat speaks French but manages to transcend the barriers of language by falling for American Lt. Joe Cable. Unlike her scheming, ambitious mother, Liat has simple aspirations, valuing love over material possessions.
A crafty Seabee who desperately wants to visit the off-limits island of Bali Ha'i, Billis often gets himself into trouble. He is an entrepreneurial, gregarious sailor who operates a secret laundering side-business. He has a deep respect and admiration for Nellie and is always looking out for his fellow Seabees. When a risky opportunity to help his country arises, Billis takes the dive.
Lt. Joseph Cable
An Ivy League-educated lieutenant from outside Philadelphia, Cable has come from a little island south of Marie Louise seeking Emile de Becque. He is charged with the order to execute a mission to spy on Japanese encroachment from inside their territory. Formal and reserved at first, he falls in love with Liat, and must resolve his inner conflict concerning race.
Ngana and Jerome: Emile’s son and daughter by his late Polynesian wife.
Stewpot: A sailor and cohort of Luther Billis, Stewpot helps Billis with running their homemade washing machine.
Henry: A native of the island, he works as Emile’s house butler.
Capt. George Brackett: The highest-ranking commanding officer for the US Navy camp on the island.
Cmdr. William Harbison: Second in command on the island, he is Capt. Brackett’s right-hand man.
Radio Operator Rob McCaffrey: A sailor and operator for the radio used to communicate during Lt. Cable’s mission.