Film and television producer Ivan Tors had a strong affinity for nature, especially the marine variety. As a result, he produced a string of marine-themed shows like Sea Hunt and The Aquanauts. However, the most famous and popular of these productions was the hit show Flipper. It was strongly reminiscent of Lassie, but replaced that show’s dog character with a more water-friendly dolphin.
The show was a television adaptation of a feature film, also titled Flipper. Brian Kelly led the cast as Porter Ricks, a widower who was the main Ranger at Coral Key Park in Florida. He watched over the marine life and the visitors at this nature refuge with the help of his two sons, fifteen-year-old Sandy and ten-year-old Bud. The family was befriended and assisted by the show’s title attraction, a highly-intelligent dolphin named Flipper.
Stories were usually built around Flipper and the two kids, usually Bud. The kids would try to help people or animals in danger, sometimes getting in danger themselves. But the day would always be saved near the end of the episode by Ranger Ricks with a little help from Flipper. Also featured early in the show was a character named Hap Collins, an old sailor with plenty of tales to tell about his seagoing past. A pretty oceanographer named Ulla Norstrand was featured regularly throughout the second season.
The show ended in September of 1967 after three successful seasons, but Flipper is a regular fixture in syndicated television, continuing to attract viewers new and old with its combination of on-the-water thrills and positive family-oriented values. Its ongoing popularity has resulted in another Flipper feature film, as well as a television show during the 90’s.
“They call him Flipper, Flipper,
Faster than lightning…
Fame if you win it comes and goes in a minute,
Make someone happy and you will be happy too…”
USA / NBC / x50 minute episodes / Broadcast 19 September 1964 – 2 September 1967
Executive Producer: Ivan Tors
Brian Kelly as Porter Ricks
Luke Halpin as Sandy Ricks
Tommy Norden as Bud Ricks
Andy Devine as Hap Corman (1964-65)
Ulla Str’mstedt as Ulla Norstrand (1965-66)
Suzy as Flipper