The TV Show ‘Flipper’ Flipped into our Hearts 60 Years Ago

FLIPPER, Flipper the dolphin, 1964-1967
Everett Collection

Flipper was a television show that aired from 1964 until 1967 and created a love for dolphins that the world had never known. Often called the “aquatic Lassie,” Flipper was always helping out his human friends. There were two films, Flipper (1963) and Flipper’s New Adventure (1964) that inspired the series. Created by Jack Cowden and Ricou Browning (Browning is known as the monster in Creature from the Black Lagoon who passed away earlier this year), the series follows Porter Ricks, chief warden at Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve, his two sons, and their pet dolphin, Flipper.

It was so popular, it spawned television and movie remakes in the 1990s. In honor of Flipper and its legacy, let’s go over some fun facts about the original show.

Flipper’s voice was not actually from a dolphin

kookaburra bird


They used the sped-up recordings of an Australian bird called the kookaburra bird for Flipper’s iconic voice.

Ricou Browning got the idea for the show from his children

FLIPPER, creator and director Ricou Browning, on location, 1964-1967

Everett Collection

Browning noticed his children were hooked while watching Lassie and he had the idea for a similar show but with a dolphin, perhaps from his days working as an underwater sea creature.

Flipper was always played by female dolphins

FLIPPER, Flipper, 1964-67

Everett Collection

Many dolphins were used to play Flipper and they were all females. This was because they were less aggressive and easier to work with but also because they have smoother and prettier skin. Male dolphins often have scars from fighting with other males.

Luke Halpin found a love for working in the water after ‘Flipper’

FLIPPER, Flipper the dolphin, Luke Halpin, 1964-1967

Everett Collection

Halpin, who played Sandy in the show, continued to work in the water. He worked as a boat pilot, diver, and stuntman, most notably in Miami Vice.

The show was filmed in Miami

FLIPPER, Brian Kelly, Luke Halpin, Flipper, Tommy Norden, 1966, TV 1964-1968

Everett Collection

Speaking of, while the show is set in a fictional version of a marine preserve, it was filmed in Miami. They often filmed in Key Biscayne and the Miami Seaquarium theme park.

Do you remember the theme song? It was sung by a Polish pop star

If you’ve seen the show, you likely remember its catchy theme song. It was sung by Henry Vars, a popular musician in Poland.

Did you love watching Flipper growing up? Let us know your favorite characters or scenes! You can still watch it on Roku and Pluto TV if you’re feeling nostalgic.

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Favorite TV Families

December 2020

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