This page wouldn't have been possible without the help of Mermaids Bonnie Georgiadis, Vera Benson Huckaby and Genie Young. They all worked on the filming of "The Cruelest Sea" and were very generous with their memories and photos. This episode of Route 66 was especially fun for me as I grew up very near the attraction and went there to learn how to swim back in the early '60s. The place brings back a lot of memories for me and is a wonderful example of disappearing roadside America.Dave
Here's Bonnie Georgiadias' recollection of the Route 66 experience:
"Boy, were we excited when we learned that the TV program route 66 was coming to Weeki Wachee Spring. This must have been 1960/61 because we were doing the "Mermaids and the Pirates" show. Marti Milner and Diane Baker were the leads in this segment called, "The Cruelest Sea of All". (I never did figure out the coral-ation.) Diane Baker had recently been in "The Diary of Anne Frank" so we were familiar with her name and of course, We'd been watching Marti Milner for a while on Route 66. Except we were on Route 19. Oh well. I was the lucky one chosen to train the stars for their underwater parts. And Genie Young was chosen to double for Diane Baker. She got to wear the seaweed costume.
Marti Milner was such a gentleman. He picked up breathing from the air hose easily as did Diane Baker. (After all breathing is rather first nature.) :-)
The deepest Marti had to go was to the opening of the tube (the large pipe which we swam through under the theater to enter the spring) That was about 20/25 feet deep so he had to clear his ears. (Equalize the pressure on his eardrums.) He did fine during training but while the camera was rolling he couldn't equalize but went deeper anyway. (The show must go on.) He bruised his ear drum and had to go to the doctor.
Diane Baker was filmed underwater in shallower situations. Genie Young did all the deeper work.
I was impressed with Lamar Boren the underwater cameraman. I was told that he was the only one at that time that was capable of this kind of work. He did all the wet work on the James Bond films or anything that required that kind of ability. I admired his watch. A waterproof watch. At that time they cost about 300 dollars or more! I figured anyone who had one was a serious diver. He smiled and said, "Cassio. Kmart. $30.00. So I had to go buy one.
Among my pictures there is one of John Hamlet playing a doctor to 'Lisa', Diane Baker who is lying on a couch in our Mermaid Villa. Marti behind the couch and the film supervisor looking concerned. Dave Morrison said, "What's this? I don't remember this in the movie." I'd seen it filmed so my mind put it in the show but it really wasn't there. Must have been left on the cutting room floor. John Hamlet was the Naturalist at the park. Great man.
Marti Milners' father-in-law was a jeweler out in California. He sent Marti a lovely little stick pin of a mermaid holding up a pearl. Marti gave it to me for training him. I dearly loved it but during a robbery of my house it was stolen.
Working in films like this was one of the benefits and thrills of being a Weeki Wachee mermaid. If you don't mind freezing half to death and holding your breath all the time. It's fun!