Weeki Wachee Mermaids
Weeki Wachee, Florida

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!

Bonnie
Jan. 2010

Diane Baker and Bonnie Georgiadis
Diane Baker and Bonnie Georgiadis

Diane Baker (L) begins her training with Bonnie Georgiadis (R) as she learns how to breath from the air hose.

Lamar Boren
Lamar Boren

Lamar Boren, underwater cinematographer for the episode. Lamar's work was seen in many '50s and '60s films and TV shows such "Sea Hunt", "Flipper", Disney productions as well as four James Bond features. His IMDB page is available here: Lamar Boren - IMDB

Lamar Boren and James Sheldon
Lamar Boren and James Sheldon

Lamar Boren swimming with a film camera inside an underwater housing. Director James Sheldon is seen at left. The corner of the underwater theater's control room is visible at extreme left.

Martin Milner and Bonnie Georgiadis
Martin Milner and Bonnie Georgiadis

Martin Milner sits with Bonnie Georgiadis by the edge of the spring as he learns more about breathing from an air hose. The photo was signed by Milner as follows:

"To Bonnie, with thanks, if I'd followed your advice closer, I could hear you better this morning."

He was talking about the eardrum damages he suffered when he failed to clear his ears properly while filming his underwater scenes.

Here's a newspaper link to the story when it happened:

Route 66 Star 'Grounded' By Ear Doctor

Diane Baker, John Hamlet, Martin Milner and Paula Stewart
Diane Baker, John Hamlet, Martin Milner and Paula Stewart

This is a photo that was taken for a scene that never made the final cut of the show.

Pictured are (from Left): John Hamlet, Weeki Wachee Springs on-site Naturalist and an authority on birds of prey who is playing a doctor, Martin Milner and actress Paula Stewart. On the couch is an "injured" Diane Baker.

The only reference to an injury in this episode is a shot of an ambulance pulling up to the main entrance of the Springs but this scene is not on the DVD. It was filmed in the "Mermaid Villa" where the girls would dress and prepare for their underwater shows.

Martin Milner and Diane Baker with crew
Martin Milner and Diane Baker with crew

Milner and Baker in the "tube room" where "Elissa" first emerges from the spring. This appears to be a rehearsal scene as they are still wearing bathrobes.

At left is probably James Goss, camera operator for this episode. Man at bottom of frame might be Paul Franz, Sound Mixer.

One very odd thing about this shot is the fact that the Mitchell 35mm camera they were using for the show is seen here without the usual sound-deadening "blimp". The blimps are usually used in scenes where there is dialogue. If you listen carefully, you can hear the clatter of the camera during the shot where they have their first kiss.

Martin Milner and mermaid Bonnie
Martin Milner and mermaid Bonnie

Mermaid Bonnie and Martin sitting on the edge of the tube as she instructs him in the use of the breathing tube.

Martin Milner and George Maharis
Martin Milner and George Maharis

A signed hand-out photo from Bonnie Georgiadis' collection. This shot was taken somewhere else during earlier episodes and was sent to the mermaids at the spring before the production company arrived for filming.

PR photo of Milner and Maharis has an inscription on the lower right but it may have been written out by the PR folks as it is signed "To Bonnie, with love, George and Marty" but the whole thing is written by one person.

Bonnie thinks that these were sent as gifts to all the mermaids before their arrival for filming possibly to generate some "buzz" amongst the staff at Weeki Wachee.

Tube installation - 1958.
Tube installation - 1958.


Tube installation - 1958

Weeki Wachee Springs
Weeki Wachee Springs

An aerial shot of Weeki Wachee Springs at the intersection of State Road 50 and U.S. Highway 19. This was taken sometime in the late '60s and shows the spring in the center right with the Weeki Wachee River flowing off to the right and out to the Gulf of Mexico.

Bonnie Georgiadis, Martin Milner, Vera Benson Huckaby and James Sheldon.
Bonnie Georgiadis, Martin Milner, Vera Benson Huckaby and James Sheldon.

Mermaid Bonnie Georgiadis, Martin Milner, Mermaid Vera Benson Huckaby, Director James Sheldon.

Lamar Boren, Carol Allison Pickles and Vera Benson Huckaby.
Lamar Boren, Carol Allison Pickles and Vera Benson Huckaby.

Lamar Boren underwater with Mermaids Carol Allison Pickles and Vera Benson Huckaby.

Glen Corbett, Martin Milner, Diane Baker and Paula Stewart.
Glen Corbett, Martin Milner, Diane Baker and Paula Stewart.

Behind the scenes with (from left) Glen Corbett, Martin Milner, Diane Baker and Paula Stewart.

Unknown, unknown, George Maharis' brother, Diane Baker, Jack Mahon. Jean Miller (foreground).
Unknown, unknown, George Maharis' brother, Diane Baker, Jack Mahon. Jean Miller (foreground).

Another behind the scenes shot with (from Left) unknown, unknown, George Maharis' brother, Diane Baker, Jack Mahon who was P.R. and Marketing Director for Weeki Wachee. In foreground is Mermaid Jean Miller.

Lamar Boren, Carol Allison Pickles and Vera Benson Huckaby.
Lamar Boren, Carol Allison Pickles and Vera Benson Huckaby.

Lamar Boren underwater with Mermaids Carol Allison Pickles and Vera Benson Huckaby.

Genie Young and Corvette.
Genie Young and Corvette.

Mermaid Genie Young on the hood of one of the show's Corvettes.

Lamar Boren, James Sheldon and Genie Young.
Lamar Boren, James Sheldon and Genie Young.

Lamar Boren (R) with camera, Director James Sheldon and Mermaid Genie setting up a shot.

Genie Young, James Sheldon and Lamar Boren.
Genie Young, James Sheldon and Lamar Boren.

Mermaid Genie, Director Sheldon and Boren.

Martin Milner, Diane Baker and Glenn Corbett.
Martin Milner, Diane Baker and Glenn Corbett.

Martin Milner and Diane Baker relax between shots with Glenn Corbett in the middle background.

Genie Young.
Genie Young.

Mermaid Genie Young dressed up to double for Diane Baker. According to Genie, she had to be cut out of this suit every day and sewn back into it every day.

The "seaweed" was plastic leaves sewn to the suit. Cinematographer Boren and Diane Baker are seen in the background.

Diane Baker, Genie Young, Martin Milner and Glen Corbett.
Diane Baker, Genie Young, Martin Milner and Glen Corbett.

Relaxing between scenes are (from Left) Diane Baker (Elissa), Baker's underwater double Genie Young, Martin Milner and Glen Corbett. The underwater camera can be seen at the bottom right.

Weeki Wachee Spring.
Weeki Wachee Spring.

Here's a closeup view looking down into the Weeki Wachee Spring. The mermaid statue in the bottom of the frame is where Tod and Elissa sat and talked.

Diane Baker and Genie Young.
Diane Baker and Genie Young.

Mermaid Genie Young (right) did almost all of Diane Baker's underwater scenes.

Diane Baker and Genie Young.
Diane Baker and Genie Young.

Diane Baker (left) and Mermaid Genie Young posing at the edge of Weeki Wachee Spring.

Glen Corbett.
Glen Corbett.

Glen Corbett, who most of the mermaids remembered fondly for his blue eyes.

James Sheldon and Genie Young.
James Sheldon and Genie Young.

Director James Sheldon and Mermaid Genie Young discussing the script.

Tod and Linc.
Tod and Linc.

Tod and Linc.

Ohio66 Home Ohio66 Home...