Monday, June 28, 2010
There were several Flipper books for children. The mail subscription book series "Best In Children's Books" launched with a first edition that featured a Flipper adventure that had two children visiting the set of the TV show and eventually landing in peril and being saved by everyone's favorite dolphin.
Whitman publishing brought out a hardcover fiction book based on the series, The Mystery Of The Black Schooner, which was well written and featured some nice illustrations. The text even mentions the work of Dr. John Lilly! There were also two miniature "Big Little" books (a concept from the past that was relaunched in the 1960s with many TV and movie character titles). The Big Little Book must have been a big success, as there was a second title as well. The art in the Big Little books closely resembles the art then appearing in the comic books from the same publisher.
Included here is a look at the original artwork prepared for the first of the Big Little books, Killer Whale Trouble.
Debuting in the show's first season was a miniature two-man submarine. Painted a bright orange, this little sub showed up again the next season piloted by the stunning Swedish oceanographer Ulla Stromstead.
The idea of a small submarine like this is realistic, and there are now many submersibles of this size in operation. But the Flipper sub was an illusion. Although it was real to the extent that it was powered and operated underwater, it was not an airtight vessel. A "wet" sub, it had no glass in its portholes and was piloted by a diver wearing scuba gear.
But it was thoroughly convincing onscreen, and served duty not only in Flipper, but in movies such as Around The World Under The Sea and Hello Down There (both Ivan Tors productions).
Friday, June 25, 2010
Here we see the great View Master packet, which featured stereoptic scenes from the two-part second season episode Dolphin Love. View Master was a classic toy and survives even today. The metal 1-inch button badges were gum machine prizes that usually cost a penny or nickel! There are variations on these designs that I have seen around (this is the extent of my personal collection). The wind-up Spouting Dolphin from Bandai was quickly knocked-off and there were many generic versions of this toy available for many years.
Episode 1 - Aired: 9/18/1965
Flipper rescues a lady oceanographer from a barracuda and finds a permanent new friend as Ulla Norstrand joins the adven
Episode 2 – Aired: 9/25/1965
When the Ricks family visits a deserted island, a fugitive steals their motor launch leaving them stranded without radio food or supplies.
Episode 3 – Aired: 10/2/1965
In the conclusion of a two-part adventure, Flipper tows Porter Ricks to his stolen launch, where he finds that the thief has imprisoned Ulla and stolen her submarine.
Episode 4 – Aired: 10/9/1965
Flipper's natural curiosity gets him tangled up in a cable attached to a dangerous floating mine that could explode any minute.
Episode 5 – Aired: 10/16/1965
Ranger Ricks is knocked unconscious by an underwater explosion while tracking down a coral poacher.
Episode 6 – Aired: 10/23/1965
A young know-it-all trainee ranger joins the Ricks family and finds that he still has a lot to learn when he disappoints Bud who thought of him as a hero.
Episode 7 – Aired: 10/30/1965
Things take an ominous turn for Sandy and Flipper when the plane carrying them to the Bahamas crashes in the Ocean.
Episode 8 – Aired: 11/6/1965
Flipper is the only hope of saving Sandy from drowning in a plane that crashed at sea, in the conclusion of this two part adventure.
Episode 9 – Aired: 11/13/1965
Flipper and Sandy are duped into helping a spy when a secret instrument package from a rocket is lost in Coral Key Park.
Episode 10 – Aired: 11/20/1965
A school of killer sharks keep Sandy and Bud trapped in a sunken wreck while Flipper tries to arouse Porter Ricks to come to their aid.
Episode 11 – Aired: 11/27/1965
Flipper fights to save Sandy's life and the lives of a film crew when he discovers a power leak in an underwater electric cable.
Episode 12 – Aired: 12/4/1965
While Bud shows off Flipper to his new friend Stevie, thieves steal Stevies valuable show horse.
Episode 13 – Aired: 12/11/1965
When Bud gets locked aboard the HMS Bounty, a replica of the infamous Captain Bligh's sailing ship, Flipper tries to get the skipper's attention before the schooner gets too far along on its world cruise.
Episode 14 – Aired: 12/18/1965
A school of killer sharks attack Flipper after he saves a swimmer and leads Porter Ricks and Sandy in a hunt for the deadly fish.
Episode 15 – Aired: 12/25/1965
Flipper helps Sandy and Bud search for stolen jewels when Ranger Porter Ricks is charged with robbery and hauled off to jail.
Episode 16 – Aired: 1/8/1966
Flipper is captured by some fishermen who transport him a long way up the coast to stock a new marine exhibit.
Episode 17 – Aired: 1/15/1966
The Ricks family sails up the coast in search of their missing friend, Flipper, only to find that the dolphin that saved a man's life, and who they hoped would be Flipper, has gone.
Episode 18 – Aired: 1/22/1966
While Flipper recovers from the injuries received during a battle with an alligator, Bud grieves over the loss of his pet just a few miles down the coast.
Episode 19 – Aired: 1/29/1966
Bud, Ulla and Stevie are trapped when their truck swerves into a drainage canal.
Episode 20 – Aired: 2/5/1966
A well meaning Bud skips his chores to go off in search of a way to earn some money for a birthday present for his Dad.
Episode 21 – Aired: 2/12/1966
When Flipper and Bud discover some of Sandy's high school classmates setting lobster traps before the season opens, bud is faced with the problem of reporting it to his father or letting the older boys off.
Episode 22 – Aired: 2/19/1966
Sandy and Bud place a down payment on a used air boat and plan to pay it off by operating a touring service through the everglades.
Episode 23 – Aired: 2/26/1966
While fishing in the waters off Florida, visiting Prince Kaza and a state department official run aground on a reef. Sharks appear while the pair attempt to free the boat.
Episode 24 – Aired: 3/5/1966
A park inspector, who believes animals should remain wild and not be made pets pays Porter an official visit. He clashes with Bud over the ownership of Flipper.
Episode 25 – Aired: 3/12/1966
The Ricks family gets an inside look at the Navy's dolphin research when Ulla calls on Porter for assistance with a Navy dolphin that seems to have gone berserk.
Episode 26 – Aired: 3/19/1966
The Navy and the Coast Guard launch an extensive search for a research Dolphin worth half a million dollars, that escaped from the Ricks while Flipper was trying to nurse him back to health.
Episode 27 – Aired: 3/26/1966
An industrial spy takes a sonar device from Ulla that has been entrusted to her by an electronics company for field testing her submarine.
Episode 28 – Aired: 4/2/1966
When Porter dives into the depths with Ulla in her submarine for a survey of the ocean floor, the tiny craft snaps its propeller on the rocky coral stranding them under 50 metres of water.
Episode 29 – Aired: 4/9/1966
Flipper falls in love with another Dolphin much to Bud's puzzlement, and swims about the park with his new girlfriend until Ted Marlowe mistakes the female dolphin for a shark and spears her.
Episode 30 – Aired: 4/16/1966
Flipper is concerned over the outcome of an operation on his girlfriend, who was speared by Ted Marlowe.
These great Flipper comic books were issued during the mid-1960s by Western Publishing's Gold Key imprint. Like all the other TV derived Gold Key titles, the art was executed by european artists who only had stills to go by, so the characters and locations are a little off, but these are still very fun items and were really enjoyable back in their time.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Rick O'Barry is, to me, a genuine hero. He was the man who trained the dolphins for the Flipper television series. But that's not what makes him a hero. It's his tireless work to be an advocate for dolphins. His direct action has made him a controversial figure, but to many he is doing important, vital, worthy work.
It was the fate of the Flipper dolphins after the show ended that prompted O'Barry into action. He had lived closely with the dolphins and become a part of their world. He actually lived in the house that served as the Rick's residence. He was especially close with Kathy, the dolphin who was most often seen as Flipper. Once she returned to the Seaquarium she did not survive.
In the 1980s O'Barry wrote a book, Behind The Dolphin Smile, which not only told his story (it is a rich account of how the Flipper TV show was produced), but portrays the evolution of his activism. The honest tone of his book is a powerful argument against dolphin captivity and exploitation. Just as worthy is the follow-up: To Free A Dolphin. One thing about O'Barry that makes an impression, is his sober sincerity.
Last year The Cove, a feature documentary about O'Barry's efforts to expose the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, was awarded the Academy Award. It's a very powerful film and a testament to the best human advocate the dolphins have ever had.