Sunday, April 28, 2019

FLIPPER: How 'The King Of The Sea' is Teaching us a Profoundly Ironic Lesson Today


Note from Jake: Despite the size of this detailed Flipper History I am continuing to update it as much new information has been coming in. As soon as I am done I will remove this note.








FLIPPER

The Real Story Behind The Icon




This is an absolutely fascinating story about the history of the mid-to-late 1960s Flipper TV show!!! Like any great story, it features an unlikely hero, and in the photo below we see a wrist shot of our hero—who will be revealed later in the story, rockin' his vintage Rolex Submariner [Reference 5513] from the mid 1960s. There is a lot more to this photo than might initially meet the eye.







How 'The King Of The Sea'


Is Teaching Us


A Profoundly Ironic Lesson Today


This is a multidimensional story I have wanted to write for a long, long time. Publishing my recent story on Sir David Attenborough inspired me to finally write this story now. In many ways it chronicles how I developed my perception of fish and the oceans, while attempting to reconcile my childhood fantasyland I grew up in with my adult reality. I would like to dedicate this amazingly profound story to the memory of the greatest explorer that ever lived, Jacques Cousteau, as well as to his entire family including all of his descendants—many of which have followed in his footsteps. 



As a child growing up in San Francisco, California, I lived near the Ocean and was exposed to many different aquatic perspectives. I clearly remember John Denver singing his song about Jacques Cousteau's Calypso with the words: 

To sail on a dream on a crystal clear ocean
To ride on the crest of a wild raging storm
To work in the service of life and living
In search of the answers to the questions unknown
To be part of the movement and part of the growing
Part of beginning to understand

Aye Calypso the places you've been to
The things that you've shown us
The stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit
The men who have served you so long and so well

Like the dolphin who guides you, you bring us beside you
To light up the darkness and show us the way
For though we are strangers in your silent world
To live on the land we must learn from the sea
To be true as the tide and free as a wind swell
Joyful and loving in letting it be









EARTH DAY


I remember when I was a child having adults talk to me about Earth Day. They said it was a day where humanity should focus on ways to protect and take care of Mother EarthMuch has changed since the first Earth Day which was celebrated on April 22, 1970. My personal opinion is many things have become better in our world since 1970, but many have gotten much worse and it's time for humanity to really search its collective soul about the kind of future we want for the only home we have ever known here on earth.

"Progress doesn't saunter into the world; it staggers. Grown-ups don't often change their minds about the important political and social questions of their time. Change arrives because their children are born into a whole new set of assumptions different from those of their parents." –Stephen Marche

As they say, the torch has been passed to the next generation and I hope we can make a real and meaningful difference, and that includes Rolex. When I think about the Rolex Submariner & SEA-DWELLER and everything having to do with the life aquatic, I think about Flipper, beaches and the Ocean. I sincerely hope over the course of the next decade Rolex will do more to help preserve the earths oceans.







Flipper Friday


Ten years ago, on Jake's Rolex World I used to publish a series named Flipper Friday. No I am NOT talking about stories of people buying and 'flipping' homes or Rolex watches to make a quick buck, nor political operatives flipping their loyalties. I am talking about the mid 1960s TV show about a very lovable dolphin named Flipper and his adventures. Every Friday, I would post a new episode of Flipper, and I would include screen grabs of the Rolex watches seen on the show. I stopped doing this as Hulu put the episodes behind a paywall, but today I am excited to finally share all my Flipper history findings with you!!!









King Of The Sea


The TV show Flipper was first broadcast on NBC on September 18, 1964 and the last episode aired on April 15, 1967. Flipper was based upon a 1963 movie that stared Chuck Connors, as well as Luke Haplin who would go on to star as the older brother, Bud Ricks in the Flipper TV show. In the photo below we see the original movie poster for Flipper from 1963.



In the photo below we see Chuck Connors who played Porter Ricks, along with Luke Haplin who played Bud in the 1963 Flipper movie.







Luke Haplin is pictured above and below in the first Flipper Movie from 1963 playing with Flipper the dolphin.




You can watch the Official Flipper Trailer below from 1963:




In 1964 there was a follow-up sequel movie named Flippers New Adventure, and we see the trailer for it below.









Flipper TV Show

1964-1967

The Flipper TV Show debuted in the United States on broadcast TV on NBC on September 18, 1964 and was an instant hit.




Flipper revolves around the experience of a bottlenose dolphin named Flipper, who is the wild pet and companion animal of Porter Ricks who is the Chief Warden of the fictional Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve in South Florida. Flipper is also very close with Porter Ricks two sons, Sandy and Bud. Bud, the younger son is the closest to Flipper.




The show was conceived by Jack Cowden and his brother in law Ricou Browning who had a great deal of experience in filming underwater as he played the monster in the 1954 blockbuster movie, The Creature from the Black Lagoon—as we will see later in this story. I watched the Flipper TV show so much as a kid, the timeless lyrics are permanently stuck in my head: 




Come on and sing it with me!!!


They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there under, under the sea!

Everyone loves the king of the sea,
Ever so kind and gentle is he,
Tricks he will do when children appear,
And how they laugh when he’s near!

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No-one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there-under, under the sea!









Below is a full episode of Flipper which is fascinating:










...Rolex Super Coolness...


Brian Kelly

Rolex Submariner


Flipper was commonly referred to as the Lassie of the Sea as it was a family friendly show about a beloved pet. Porter Ricks, who was played by Brian Kelly was a really handsome & cool guy who looked like he could have played James Bond. 



Brian Kelly was the son of former Governor of Michigan, Harry Kelly, and as you can see Brian was definitely a stud—Rolex Submariner and all.



Brian Kelly is pictured below in a 1967 publicity shot rocking his Rolex Submariner Reference 5512 or 5513 that featured pointed crown guards.








Blade Runner

1982

Brian Kelly was in a bad motorcycle accident in 1967 which largely ended his acting career. Brian went on to become a movie producer and was the executive producer of the ultra-successful 1982 science-fiction movie titled Blade Runner.


Notice on the Blade Runner Poster above from 1982 it says "EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: BRIAN KELLY". 





"You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down... "




Speaking of Rolex and Blade Runner, we see Harrison Ford pictured above playing Decker in the landmark science-fiction movie, and we see Harrison Ford below in a photo taken off set while shooting Blade Runner that shows him rockin his stainless steel Rolex Datejust along with his purple Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star high-tops.







Porter Ricks

Porter Ricks was played brilliantly by actor Brian Kelly whose character was the Warden of the fictional Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve in South Florida. You can see Porter Ricks wearing his trademark Rolex Submariner in the photo below.


Porter Ricks character was part Andy Griffith, Part cowboy–with his boots and gun–and part almost, Jacques Cousteau. I say Jacques Cousteau because of the aquatic aspect of the show. His figure was also kind of like an athletic, super-hero, but he didn't transform into a cape with leggings as he was almost always in his khaki uniform, which made him an authoritative father figure of sorts.


In my absolute naiveté as a child I Loved watching Flipper reruns on TV. I used to watch them over and over again as they immersed me in an aquatic paradise.



I remember thinking how cool Bud and Sandy's clothing style was on Flipper. As we see in the photo below, they primarily wore slip on Vans-type-tennis-shoes with cut-off Levi's jeans and polo or hang-ten T-Shirts. This style had a very clean-cut, idealistic California/early Beach Boys vibe.


Speaking of Hang Ten T-Shirts with high crew-neck collars, here is a picture of me celebrating my third birthday in 1969, which was around the time I stared watching Flipper reruns. 




I grew up in a somewhat sheltered environment, and I remember when I was about four years old, my Nanny took me down to Ghirardelli Square at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, and this dude who looked like Jesus (with long wavy hair and a matching beard with bell bottoms and sandals) approached us and asked my Nanny if she could spare some change. So keep in mind, this was around 1970, and the dude was a hippy in San Francisco, and I remember my Nanny freaked out and whisked me away while I was asking her why she didn't give him any money if he needed it? This kind of illustrates my level of naiveté at such a young age, but it's that same idealistic naiveté that led me along with most of America to believe what I was seeing with Flipper was real.

My father Jake Ehrlich Jr., was an avid fisherman and loved boats. He used to take me out on the San Francisco Bay most weekends on our boat which he named JAKE III, and in the picture below we see us up on the deck together. My father died of cancer about two years after this photo was taken—as he drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney. I think I found even more comfort in watching Flipper after my father passed away as Porter Ricks became almost like a surrogate father figure for me...




I think I was blown away as a young boy with Sandy and Bud from Flipper, because, like their father Porter Ricks, they were also like young super hero's, as we see in this shot below where the brothers are scuba diving by themselves–with Flipper. 




In retrospect, I realize I developed a fondness for the aquatic lifestyle and probably the Rolex Submariner from watching Flipper. It's funny how the subconscious mind works, and it's magnificently compelling the Rolex Submariner was always in front of my eyes growing up as a child, as a part of popular culture—on the wrist of a very handsome and highly competent man—whether it was watching Flipper, or James Bond movies.








As I reflect back, I realize that probably the first exposure I ever had to Rolex was watching Porter Ricks sporting his Rolex Submariner back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.




I recall, when I was a kid, Flipper lunchboxes with a matching Thermos were really popular. Flipper really pervaded popular culture and to this day remains an iconic hallmark in my mind.










It also dawned on me that it is a supreme irony, that on the show, Flipper was supposed to be a male dolphin, but in reality, Flipper was typically played by 5 different female dolphins, because female dolphins were far less aggressive than male dolphins.






Rolex Submariner


In the photos below we see Flipper father, Porter Ricks, who was played by Brian Kelly wearing his Rolex Submariner.











Flipper has a special place in my heart because when I was a young child I loved watching repeats of Flipper. I think I related to it so well because the two brothers were about my age and I thought Flipper was really cool. Dolphins to this day remain my favorite animal. I also love dolphins because they are almost always smiling. 





Flipper was shot in Miami as well as in in the Nassau, which is in the Bahamas. Flipper was produced in cooperation with the Miami Seaquarium which was located on Key Biscayne in Biscayne Bay which is next to Miami, Florida. Rolex Submariner watches seemed to be everywhere on Flipper. 


In the picture above and below we see other characters from Flipper rocking Rolex Submariner models.


I believe in the last season of Flipper in 1968, Luke Halpin's character, Sandy Ricks was also wearing a Rolex Submariner as we see in the photo below.







Ric O'Barry

Flipper's Trainer & Hero


It has been said reality is stranger than fiction, and in this section of the story we meet the real hero and protagonist of this story: Ric O'Barry. The photo below of Ric O'Barry was taken recently and notice he is wearing his vintage Rolex Submariner [Reference 5513] which in a bizarre twist of fate also has pointed crown guards, just like Brian Kelly's Submariner pictured above in this story.



Ric O'Barry was Flipper's trainer and in the photo below we see Ricou Browning (left) who created Flipper with Ric O'Barry (right). Notice they are both wearing Rolex Submariner watches. Ricou Browning not only created Flipper, but was Ric O'Barry's mentor and best friend at the time. Ricou Browning was Flipper's original trainer in the movies, and then he mentored and trained Ric O'Barry to take over as Flipper's trainer despite the fact Ric had no formal experience or schooling on the subject. As of today, they have not spoken for more than 40 years because of what occurs later in this story.



In the photo below we see Flipper creator, Ricou Browning with Luke Halpin who played Sandy Ricks on Flipper, painting a sign that reads, "SANDY RICKS FOR PRESIDENT". Notice Ricou Browning is wearing his Submariner.




In 1954, Ricou Browning was a professional swimmer who stood 6'3, when he was chosen to play The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Ricou had grown up in Florida and worked with site sourcing team from Universal pictures to scout great locations to film The Creature From The Black Lagoon. 




Browning reprised his role for two sequels and in 1958 did stunt work for the TV show Sea Hunt, which stared Lloyd Bridges who is Jeff Bridges father. 


Ricou Browning in 1954 as The Creature From The Black Lagoon



Since Ricou Browning was a highly accomplished swimmer he performed all the underwater swimming and stunts as The Creature From The Black Lagoon while Ben Chapman played the role of the creature on land.







Ivan Tors

Renowned Producer  

Ivan Tors was born in Hungary and moved to the United States in 1939 just before World War II broke out. He migrated to the U.S. and came over to study at Fordham University in New York City. He enlisted into the U.S. Army Air Corps and later transferred to the Office of Strategic Services which was the precursor to the CIA. After World War II he worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a screenwriter.




Tors was fascinated with fact-based science fiction, especially in underwater aquatic settings. Tors under his production company named Ivan Tors Films wrote and produced several successful films and went on to write and produce many aquatic TV shows including The Aquanauts. 



He also wrote and produced SEA-HUNT which starred Lloyd Bridges









In 1960 Tors focused on making movies and TV shows that involved animals included Flipper (1963), Flipper's New Adventure (1964), Gentle Ben, as well as Daktari (1966-1969), which stared Marshal Thompson who is pictured below wearing his Rolex Submariner.



Ivan Tors Films even filmed the epic underwater battle scenes for the James Bond Film, Thunderball in which Ricou Browning who was The Creature From The Black Lagoon and the creator of Flipper also helped produce. Ivan Tors also produced for MGM, The World Under The Sea which both Lloyd Bridges and Brian Kelly starred in.






ROLEX

The Submariner Ethos  

I want to make a profound point about the significance of the year 1954, and it revolves around Jacques-Yves Cousteau. 


1955 Rolex Submariner Magazine Ad



In 1953 Cousteau had been testing early Rolex Submariner prototypes. In 1954 at Basel Fair in Switzerland Rolex formally launched the Submariner. 



This was the same year Jacques Cousteau debuted his seminal aquatic documentary named The Silent World which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary. This movie was NOT science-fiction, but science-reality...


In Jacques Cousteau's Silent World documentary his Calypso team used dynamite to blow up a lagoon filled with fish to see what would happen. The result was that they killed many fish unnecessarily. In later years people criticized Cousteau for unnecessarily harming the innocent fish, and that is really the key takeaway point in this story. Cousteau and his team were early pioneers and really didn't understand the impact they had on the those fish. Once they understood, they became ocean conservationists and spent the rest of their years protecting the oceans.

One of the things that was so profound about Cousteau's 1954 documentary is he had to invent much of the technology to film it, including the SCUBA gear, camera housing and underwater lighting systems. (As a matter of fact, Cousteau worked with MIT to develop much of the underwater technology.) In other words mankind really had no idea what existed underwater in the ocean until Cousteau began to show them. That explains why the 1954 movie, The Creature From The Black Lagoon scared audiences practically to death!!! It basically boiled down to fear of the unknown.



If we fast-forward a decade to 1964, we begin to understand mans fascination with the life aquatic, which happened to be the same time Flipper debuted on TV. At the time, many people, including André Heiniger who was Rolex's CEO believed humans would soon be building cities under the sea, as this 1964 Rolex ad discusses at the end of Number 4:



This next Rolex Submariner add was published in 1965, which was when Brian Kelly was wearing the same watch on Flipper.



Rolex published this next Rolex Submariner ad in 1966 which featured a Submariner with a 3, 6 ,9 explorer style dial.




Rolex published this next U.S. Navy Submarine Captain ad in 1967, while they developed the Rolex SEA-DWELLER with the U.S. Navy SEALAB Aquanauts.




This next Rolex Submariner brochure is from the late 1960s, and it shows Rolex's fascination and commitment to making the best underwater tool watches.












Ric O'Barry

Training Flipper

So let's get back to Flippers trainer, Ric O'Barry who is pictured below as a young man when he first started training Flipper.



Ric O'Barry was in the U.S. Army for a year, beginning in 1954, and year later moved to the U.S. Navy where he served for five years from 1955 to 1960. When O'Barry got out the Navy he tried being a treasure hunter, but grew extremely weary of it and concluded "I never worked so hard for so little in my life." Ric O'Barry had been friends with famous Florida treasure diver, Art McKee who was know as "Silver Bar". Art McKee was considered by many to be "The Treasure Hunter's Treasure Hunter" as he was an early pioneer in salvaging historic shipwrecks. Art McKee is picture below in the 1950s in Plantation Key, Florida wearing an early Rolex Submariner as he shows the group of people around him a coral encrusted pistol he discovered.





Ric O'Barry didn't like treasure hunting and Art McKee spoke to his old friend Captain William B. Gray at the Miami Seaquarium who hired Ric on the spot as a diver. Ric went to work at the Miami Seaquarium in 1960. At the Seaquarium Ric captured and trained dolphins including the 5 dolphins that played Flipper on the TV show. 



Ric O'Barry was fully engaged and committed while he was a member of the Flipper TV show team. He even stunt doubled for Sandy Ricks in Flipper episodes. In the photo below we see Ric with Flipper actor, Tommy Norden who played Bud Ricks and the two of them are going over a script.





Ric O'Barry not only trained the dolphins that played Flipper, but also lived on the Flipper set with the dolphins. As a matter of fact, Ric lived in the actual house the Ricks family lived in on the show. Ric trained the dolphins to do all kinds of tricks including throwing fish into boats. Ric said the only way to train a dolphin with to basically bribe them with food. In other words, the only way he could get them to do tricks is with rewarding them with food.




Ric O'Barry had an epiphany when the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time named Cathy died in his arms, he realized capturing and training dolphins so they could perform silly tricks was wrong. O'Barry had originally captured Cathy and believes to this day Cathy committed suicide and he summed it up: 

"I knew Cathy (Flipper) was tired of suffering. She was living a miserable life and she was tired of being miserable. Cathy chose to stop breathing which is something dolphins are physiologically capable of." 




From this point forward Ric O'Barry committed himself to crusade to protect dolphins and orcas, which be believes should never see the inside of a tank. In the wild dolphins swim an average of 40 miles per day, and in a relatively small aquarium tank they can't really swim like they would in the ocean.


Ric O'Barry training Flipper to pull a Submarine


Ric O'Barry is pictured below attending Woodstock in 1969, backstage with producer, Michael Lang.










Dolphin Project

An Ocean Crusade Is Born

On the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970 in relative obscurity, Rick O'Barry was arrested (pictured below) for the first time, trying to free a captive dolphin. We see Ric below at the Bimini jail.


Ric O'Barry stared an organization named Dolphin Project and musician Stephen Stills (center below) from Crosby, Stills and Nash was one of the original funders who helped it get off the ground. Crosby, Stills and Nash performed live at Woodstock in 1969.



Stephen Stills is pictured below in 1972 wearing his stainless steel Rolex Submariner.



In this next photo, taken in 1971, we see Ric O'Barry (wearing a hat) with former Flipper Movie and TV show star, Luke Halpin participating in the Dolphin Project. It is a supreme irony, if you think about it that Flipper's trainer and costar became advocates for freeing dolphins from captivity.



Rick O'Barry spent the next 5 decades on a mission to free all dolphins from captivity and in the two photos below we see him with wire-cutters cutting through chainlink fences to free dolphins.













The Cove

2010 Academy Award

Best Documentary


In the late 2000s, Ric O'Barry made a documentary titled, "The Cove" which exposed the plight of mass dolphin killing brutality in Japan. Before you read any further I have to warn you that there are some very disturbing images.




This image from the killing cover in Japan shows how the ocean water has turned bright red since there is so much dolphin blood spilled in it.







Another hauntingly disturbing photo of dolphins being brutally killed while swimming in their own blood.



WarningThe footage below from the Oceanic Preservation Society is VERY GRAPHIC as it shows the heartbreaking and brutal killing of innocent dolphins in Japan. 







In 2010, The Cove won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, and we see Ric O'Barry in the bottom right hand corner holding his Oscar Statue, wearing his trusted Rolex Submariner. The reason I dedicated this story to Jacques-Cousteau is because he woke up the world to the need to protect the Oceans. Cousteau won his first Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1956, and Ric O'Barry followed in his footsteps by winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2010.

















The Times Are A Changin'


"If there is a dolphin in trouble anywhere in the world, my phone will ring.” 

—Ric O’Barry


As Bob Dylan sings in the the 1964 video performance below, 'The times they are a Changin'. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be performing its very last circus next month on March 18, 2019.  It is likely that at some point in the future all circus acts will end, and animals will no longer be held captive prisoners in circus acts.


To learn more about Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project and to make a donation to help his project please visit DolphinProject.com.




Ric O'Barry is an absolute hero and he has been wearing and depending on the same trusted Rolex Submariner for more than a 50 years! 



Ric O'Barry is pictured below at the Google Campus with his son Lincoln O'Barry after they gave a live stream talk at Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley. Lincoln O'Barry is a director and is best known for his Animal Planet series named Blood Dolphins.




As I mentioned at the beginning of this story, I encourage Rolex to become more proactive in supporting ocean conservation as it has such a rich aquatic history. This really cool 1986 Rolex ad features dolphins with Submariner models.


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