1 9 6 0 – 1 9 6 2 (USA)
104 x 7 minute episodes
“Below in the deep there’s adventure and danger
That’s where you’ll find Diver Dan!
The sights that he sees are surprising and stranger
Than ever you’ll see on the land!”
Starring a deep-sea diver, a beautiful mermaid, and a cast of undersea puppets, Diver Dan was one of the most unique puppet shows of TV’s early years.
John Ferlaine modelled the programme after his comic strip Fish Tales, and in transferring it to the small screen, he helped pioneer an innovative filming technique.
The entire show was filmed through a large fish tank, allowing real fish to mingle with the puppet stars and giving the proceedings an authentic underwater look.
The kind and wise mermaid Miss Minerva ruled this kingdom in the Sargasso Sea – contacting the creatures of the sea with her magic Shell-O-Phone – but Baron Barracuda (Allen Swift) constantly plotted to take over.
And so, Diver Dan (Frank Freda) dove in to the rescue, travelling everywhere from the Baron’s lair to the lost kingdom of Atlantis over the course of his adventures.
The adventures themselves were presented in serial form (104 in all), with each episode lasting only a few minutes before the obligatory cliff-hanger ending.
Dan and Minerva were the only humans on Diver Dan. Everyone else – from Baron Barracuda and his bumbling dim-witted flunky Triggerfish to good guys Finley Haddock; Sawfish Sam; Gill-Espie (a bongo-playing beatnik fish); Sea Biscuit the Seahorse; Gabby the Clam; Glow Fish (who lived by the Bottomless Pit); Goldie the Goldfish; Hammer-head Shark; Hermit Crab; Georgie Porgie; Scoutfish (who sported an Indian tomahawk and feathers); Skipper Kipper and Doc Sturgeon – were all some form of marine life.
Amazingly, veteran voice artist Allen Swift (a Howdy Doody and King Leonardo regular) did the vocal work for every one of these characters. Puppeteers John Caracciolo, Martin Kreiner and Harold B. Taylor manipulated the show’s marionettes.
Airing only in local syndication, Diver Dan never got the national exposure of Howdy Doody or Kukla, Fran and Ollie. It remains relatively unknown today, but if you’re looking for one of television’s sunken treasures, this is it.
“He protects and he saves his friends under the waves,
That’s where you’ll find Diver Dan.”
Miss Minerva the Mermaid