Fond Memories Simple Fun The Wide World

Flipper – Original 1964-1967 TV Series


The original Flipper TV series from 1964-1967


How cool would it have been to have a dad like Porter Ricks and live at Coral Key Park, Florida–and best of all, to have a smart dolphin like Flipper as a pet?

The Family Channel showed Flipper reruns when our daughter Katy was little, around the late 1980s to early 1990s.  We would tape it and watch it with Steve after he got home from work.

It really was a great family show.  The original series had eighty-eight episodes, running from 1964-1967.

The best part about old shows like Flipper was that they made kids feel like the world was a safe place, and that grown-ups had the answers.

No matter what troubles befell Sandy, Bud, and Flipper, they would always know that their dad would save the day.

Not that Porter Ricks was a marshmallow dad.  He was a strict disciplinarian, as well as a fun and devoted father.

How would today’s American culture deal with a dad who had no problem spanking his kids – even teenage Sandy?



Flipper had star power


The show’s stars had their share of media attention.  Handsome Brian Kelly (Porter Ricks) graced the cover of TV Guide–playing second fiddle to Flipper, of course.

Tragically, Brian Kelly’s acting career was cut short.

In 1970, Kelly was picked to play the film role of dastardly heartbreaker “Robin Stone” in The Love Machine, based on the novel by Jacqueline Susann.   Susann had called Brian Kelley “the perfect Robin Stone”–which was a far cry from lovable dad Porter Ricks.

Just prior to filming, however, Kelley was involved in a motorcycle accident that paralyzed his right arm and leg.  John Phillip Law took over the role of Robin Stone.

Unable to continue acting, Brian Kelly turned to building homes and producing films. He served as executive producer of Blade Runner (1982) and associate producer of Cities of the Wild (1996).

Brian Kelly died on February 12, 2005, two days shy of his 74th birthday.

Luke Halpin (Sandy Ricks) became a teenybopper heartthrob, gracing magazines like 16, Tiger Beat, and Teen Life.  He also became a skilled swimmer and scuba diver, performing his own underwater stunts on the show.

The following “intimate” interview with Luke Halpin was from the February 1965 16 Magazine.  

luke halpin 16 mag feb 1965

Bud and Sandy grow up


Luke Halpin continued acting as an adult, including a role in the 1996 remake film Flipper, which starred 15 year old Elijah Wood as Sandy Ricks.  He also worked as a stuntman and marine coordinator.

Tommy Norden played Sandy’s younger brother Bud.  He continued acting through the early 1970s, including playing a doctor on daytime soap opera Search for Tomorrow. 

Norden owns an executive recruiting company in New York City, and appeared at Miami Seaquarium’s 40th anniversary celebration of Flipper.


tommy norden

Flipper was a girl???


Five female dolphins played the starring role of Flipper–Susie, Kathy, Patty, Scotty and Squirt.  The producers chose females because they were more docile than males, and not scarred like most male dolphins by fighting.

A male dolphin named Clown did perform the famous Flipper “tail walk.”  The girls just couldn’t get the hang of it.

Flipper introduced audiences to future stars like Burt Reynolds, Martin Sheen, Barbara Feldon, Jessica Walter, Lynda Day George, David Soul, Robin Mattson, and Daniel J. Travanti.

Flipper was filmed at the Miami Seaquariam and at Key Biscayne, and occasional underwater shots were filmed at Nassau, Bahamas.

Today, dolphins perform “The Flipper Show” in the same Seaquariam lagoon where the show filmed the original Flippers.

Most episodes are available on YouTube for free, or on Hulu.

Whichever was your favorite episode…we’re guessing that Bud probably did something dumb and got into the soup big time with his dad.

They just don’t make TV shows like Flipper anymore!



Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights