Diver Dan was a series of 104 seven-minute live-action shorts made for children's television. Made by Brian Cartoons, it was syndicated (mainly to NBC affiliates) and distributed by ITC Entertainment. The shows were sometimes re-edited into half-hour (including commercials) blocks by local stations.
The series featured the adventures of a diver in an old-fashioned diving suit who talked to the passing fish. The series was filmed in live action with puppet fish; the underwater effect was achieved by shooting through an aquarium.
debuted in 1960, the brainchild of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
cartoonist J. Anthony (John) Ferlaine, as a spinoff of his comic strip
, Fish Tales
. Ferlaine, who worked as an art director
at Philadelphia's CBS
, produced two Fish Tales
pilots. When CBS did not pick up the show, Ferlaine and promoter Martin Young partnered with Philadelphia producer Louis W. Kellman, who with his staff produced local TV spots and film shorts
, and filmed NFL football
games. They produced the shorts over nine months, and syndicated
In New York City, Diver Dan shorts ran as part of Felix & Diver Dan, a 30-minute children's show airing from January 4, 1960, to August 31, 1962, and which also included Felix the Cat.
- Allen Swift as the voices of the many puppets, the unseen Captain, and the narrator
- Frank Freda as Diver Dan
- Suzanne Turner as Miss Minerva, the beautiful mermaid queen, who referred to Diver Dan only as "The Diver" and shyly kept away from his sight.
The characters included Diver Dan and Miss Minerva, the Captain (heard but not seen), and a puppet cast including the villainous Baron Barracuda, his henchman Trigger (a trigger fish
), Finley Haddock, Doc Sturgeon, Georgie Porgy, Gabby the Clam, Gill Espy, Glow Fish, Goldie the Goldfish (who spoke only in peeps and squeaks), Hermit Crab, Sam the Sawfish, Scout Fish, Sea Biscuit the Seahorse and Skipper Kipper.
One of the running gags in the series was for Trigger to refer to the Baron as "Boss", at which the Baron would get angry and say some variation of, "Call me Baron, stupid!" — to which Trigger would reply, "Okay, Baron Stupid".
Baron Barracuda wore a monocle in one eye, and spoke in a vaguely European accent. Trigger always had an apparently unlit cigarette jutting from the side of his mouth.
The series was not immune to ethnic stereotypes: One of the undersea characters was Scout Fish, who carried a tomahawk and always spoke in pidgin-Indian dialect. He occasionally used his tomahawk to extricate Diver Dan from seaweed (in the Sargasso Sea), fishing nets, or some nefarious trap.
released a collection of 15 Diver Dan
episodes on DVD (Region 0) on September 26, 2006.
Another DVD release can be found at many Dollar Tree stores. Titled "Diver Dan, Vol. 2" and produced by East West Entertainment LLC, it contains two hours of the show, approximately 17 episodes. It is unknown what is on Vol 1, as this DVD appears to start with the very first Diver Dan episode.
Except for these two DVD releases, the television series has never had a public showing since it was originally telecast. One exception, though not broadcast on a television network, is the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention which occasionally shows episodes as fillers in between movies.
"The Ballad of Diver Dan"
The series opening and closing themes were written, performed and sung by the show's sound engineer
, Jack Sky
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!
He moves among creatures
Of frightening features:
Flashing teeth, slashing jaws,
Flapping fins, snapping claws!
He protects and he saves
His friends under the waves;
That's where you'll find Diver Dan!
In other media
issued at least one Diver Dan comic book
, as issue #1254 (April 1962) of its series Four Color
- The Bubbling Pit
- The Volcano
- Depth Charge
- Goldie's Heroism
- Ghost is Clear
- School Daze
- Strange Vines
- Savage Seaweed
- Baron's Capture
- An Unusual Treasure
- Trigger's Revenge
- Riddle of the Hermit Crab
- Sargasso Sea
- Lost in the Sargasso Sea
- Produced by Louis W. Kellman
- A Brian Cartoons, Inc. production in association with Young Productions, Inc.
- Executive producer: Hal Tunis
- Associate producer: Harvey Blake
- Created by J. Anthony Ferlaine
- Writers included: Joseph Bonaduce, Ron Ronszel
- Puppeteers: Martin Kreiner, John Caracciolo, Harold Taylor
- Directors: Leon Rhodes, Mort Heilig
- Production manager: Ben Berk
- Cameraman: Morris Kellman
- Script supervisor: Ruth Clyman
- Editors: Arthur Spieller, Margot Mor
- Sound: Jack Sky
- Art director: Frank Heininger
- Lighting: John Wynn