Flipper to the Rescue

by Guy Belleranti
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Flipper the dolphin came to NBC television in 1964 for a three year 88 episode run. A family friendly 30 minute program inspired by the 1963 movie of the same name, this series followed the adventures of a widowed Florida Park ranger, his two sons and, of course, the family's pet, Flipper the dolphin.

Brian Kelly played Porter Ricks, the father. Luke Halpin played his older son Sandy, and Tommy Norden played younger son Bud. Halpin also stared in the 1963 film, with Chuck Connors playing Porter Ricks.

The program was pretty popular, especially among children and young teens. It featured adventure, action, humor and good values. It also had some excellent color underwater photography as it followed Flipper's exploits.

Flipper was sort of like Fury, Lassie or Rin Tin Tin - always coming to the rescue of others, stopping poachers and so on.

Andy Devine (Jingles of television's Wild Bill Hickock) had a recurring role as old salt Hap Corman in the program's first season. The following year Swedish actress Ulla Stromstedt appeared many times as an oceanographer named Ulla Norstrand.

One of the memorable things about the program had to be the theme song and its singable lyrics. To this day I can still hear them.

The show's popularity led to the 1964 theatrical film Flipper's New Adventure. This movie also featured Brian Kelly and Luke Halpin playing the same parts they had in the series.

And in 1996 a new Flipper motion picture was released. This one starred Paul Hogan (of Crocodile Dundee fame) and Elijah Wood (Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy).

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