The television show Flipper is an adaptation of the 1963 film
Flipper starring Chuck Connors and
Luke Halpin as Porter and Sandy Ricks, and its 1964 sequel, Flipper's New
Adventure, where Brian Kelly took over the role of Porter. In adapting the
films to a television series, the producers made Porter a single parent and gave him a second son named Bud, played
by Tommy Norden. The producers departed yet again from the films in endowing Flipper with an unnatural degree of
intelligence and an extraordinary understanding of human motives, behavior, and vocabulary.
The program first broadcast on NBC from September 19, 1964, until
April 15, 1967 with 88 episodes to its credit. Flipper, a bottlenose dolphin, is the companion animal of Porter
Ricks, Chief Warden at fictional Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve in southern Florida, and his two young sons
Sandy and Bud.Flipper is a wild dolphin and the companion animal of the Ricks
family. Flipper is an extraordinarily intelligent dolphin who helps enforce regulations on the preserve, assists
Porter Ricks with rescues at sea, and keeps a watchful eye on Sandy and Bud, who themselves he has rescued or
helped rescue from danger on numerous occasions . Many Kids found flipper cute and their favorite part of the show.
Flipper was played by five captive dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium, the most commonly used ones were named
"Cathy," and "Susie."
Flipper was played at first by a female dolphin named Suzy, though
primarily by another female, Kathy, and occasionally by other females named Patty, Scotty and Squirt. Female
dolphins were chosen because they are less aggressive than males and their skins (unlike the skins of male
dolphins) are usually free from scars and other disfigurations acquired in altercations with other dolphins. The
five dolphins performed all of Flipper's thespian chores except the famous tail walk, a trick they were unable to
master completely. A male dolphin named Clown was brought in for scenes involving the tail walk. The famous "voice"
of Flipper was actually the doctored song of a kookaburra.
A pelican named Pete, depicted in the original movie as Sandy's
pet before he met Flipper, had a recurring role on the show and appeared in several episodes.
The series follows a Bottlenose Dolphin named Flipper who is the
wild pet of Porter Ricks, a park warden, and his sons Sandy and Bud. Flipper lives in a lagoon near the Ricks
cottage at Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve. With the Ricks family, Flipper helps protect the park and preserve
and its wild inhabitants. He is also instrumental in apprehending criminals and thugs in the park. Flipper is
generally recognized by the characters in the show (and the theme song) as being a particularly intelligent and
capable dolphin. Flipper is the special companion of the youngest member of the Ricks family, Bud, and several
episodes feature Flipper rescuing Bud from dangerous situations. There are few women in the lives of the Ricks
males but Porter does have a date in the first season while Sandy meets the girl operator of a floating zoo. A
female oceanographer enters the series in the second season to add a feminine touch to the proceedings. Promotional
material for the third season announced a new girlfriend for Sandy, although she only appeared in one episode. The
series is distinguished for its lush photography of subtropical Florida and its colorful underwater
The last broadcast episode was April 15, 1967, part 2 of a two
part episode. In the conclusion of this two-part episode, the characters of Sandy and Bud are written
out of the show (by that time both boys had grown out of their roles), as it is detailed how each plans to leave
Coral Key — Sandy has been accepted to the Coast Guard Academy, and Bud will be attending a private school
remedially, out-of-state, as arranged by their Aunt Martha. At the same time, a new family (the Whitmans) moves to
the area: a widowed mother (played by Karen Steele) and her young son and daughter (played by Stuart Getz and Chris
Charney). The two new children are depicted as unfamiliar with maritime life, but they promptly befriend Flipper,
and promise to be his new companions after Sandy and Bud leave. All this was for naught, however, as the NBC
network declined to renew the series in this new format.