Ah yes, Diver Dan.
Shown on Ray Rayner and Friends back in the early 70's. At least that's where I first saw this little show.
It really wasn't a show at all. More of a serial with the familiar 'tune in to the next exciting chapter' and all. Each chapter was about 6 minutes long and featured some of the most seaworthy characters around.
Oh, and yeah, they were all puppets.
Well, Diver Dan and the mermaid named Minerva were live actors - Dan played by Frank Freda (who still lives and works in N.Y. City), Minerva by Suzanne Truner - but the rest of the cast was made up of marionette fish puppets.
Dan's fish friends included Finley, Georgy Porgy, Doc Sturgeon, Sawfish Sam, Angel Fish, Sea Biscuit the sea horse, Oh and of coarse, Dan's love interest Miss Minerva, the mermaid that Dan always had a problem of catching up with.
Then there were the evil baron Barracuda (with a voice that sounded like Bela Logosi), his cigarette smoking sidekick Trigger Fish, beatnik fish Gill-Espi, Scout Fish, Hermit the Crab, and little Goldie rounded out the other inhabitants of this underwater classic.
Allen Swift provided all the voices of the fish characters as well as Dan's. Other shows which he provided voices for included 'The Howdy Doody Show' as well as cartoon's 'Underdog', 'Tooter Turtle' (Help Mr. Wizard!), 'King Leonardo' and many others.
Underwater it might have seemed on Diver Dan, but in reality these performers were filmed acting through a real fish tank.
Real bubbles and fish would swim in front of the action we were watching and it gave the illusion of a real underwater adventure. Well, as a youngster it would seem that way
The show was the brainchild of artist John Ferlaine. It actually started out as a comic strip called 'Fish Tales'. When an art directer for WCAU TV he adapted his idea for a television show. He not only created the show, but carved all of the fish characters himself. It was his idea also to film through the fish tank to give the show that underwater look.
With the help of film producer Louis Kellman who had a staff of cameramen, and editors that he employed to produce TV spots, short films and film NFL football games, liked the idea of producing a syndicated children's show, so he and his crew spent the next nine months filming 104 episodes of Diver Dan.
What is unfortunate about this childhood classic, which seems to be the norm with most of them, is that only a handfull of episodes of the show still exisit out of that 104.
But we who still remember those certian episodes will keep the memory of Diver Dan alive and a special part of our youth.
He's still out there, you can be sure.
Just as the theme song went...Below in the deep there's adventure and danger,
That's where you'll find Diver Dan.
The sites that he sees are exciting and stranger,
Than ever you'll find on the land!
He moves among
creatures of frightening features,
There was at one time even an LP released. Here is a picture of the cover to this rare LP.
Copyright ©1999 Roger B. Domian
Diver Dan is a property owned by John Ferlaine, Brian Kellman and Martin Young