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The Everglades

The Everglades is an American crime-adventure television series that aired in first-run syndication for one season from 1961–62 and in reruns. Ron Hayes starred as Constable Lincoln Vail, a law enforcement officer of the fictional Everglades County Patrol who traveled the Florida Everglades in an airboat, which was often the star of the show. Hayes, a northern California actor and stuntman, was an avid outdoorsman and conservationist.

Gordon Casell appeared in five of the 38 half-hour episodes as Chief Anderson, Vail's superior. Steve Brodie made three appearances as Capt. Andy Benson; and Dan Chandler appeared twice as Vail's sidekick, airboat guide Pete Hammond. Guest stars included Burt Reynolds, Victor Buono, Dawn Wells and Tyler McVey.

The original script for the series, "Son of the Everglades", was written by Miami, Florida model and actor Albert Wilmore, who spent his free time sailing and fishing in Whitewater Bay before the Everglades became a national park. Wilmore was fascinated by the myriad birds, wildlife and mangrove estuaries in the shallow water, and the native Seminoles. His son Scott recalled that Wilmore decided to meld a wildlands backdrop and the Seminoles with a park ranger and high-speed airboats. Wilmore pitched the story to a number of production companies in Miami and Hollywood, Florida. He originally cast himself as the star but ultimately played a number of other roles.

After Wilmore's wife died, Scott discovered a deed for an acre of land within Everglades National Park. Wilmore explained it was a gift from the Seminoles acknowledging his efforts for their inclusion. Scott Wilmore later sold the land, under threat of eminent domain, to the National Park Service for approximately $300.

South Florida shooting locations included Everglades National Park, Andytown, Coopertown, Frog City, Sweetwater and Forty Mile Bend along the Tamiami Trail.

The original plan was to use white actors as Seminoles with makeup and studio-produced costumes, but native Seminoles, wearing their traditional dress, were used. They were pleased have the comparatively easy work as both extras and, because of their expertise and mechanical abilities, to operate and maintain the airboats; and to have any employment other than beading, giving airboat rides and wrestling with alligators for the tourist trade. Few were given speaking parts and nearly all were denied entry into the Screen Actors Guild.

Because the show was on a tight budget (an episode was completed every two-and-a-half days), Chandler was given little training on airboats, so there were a few unintentional "flybys" and at least one crash, leaving the actor swinging from an overhanging tree. Hays, however, became an accomplished airboat driver and formed close bonds with the locals who supplied them.

During 1961, Tors was filming the first of his two Flipper feature films in Miami and the Florida Keys; Chandler was signed for a recurring role in his Flipper TV series, and for a part in the 1964 movie sequel, Flipper's New Adventure.

 

 

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