Parry started diving in the 1940s as a young girl. She was raised on a Wisconsin lake and learned to swim and love the water at an early age. As a young woman, she became involved in pioneering diving and scientific work. In 1953 she became a tester of underwater equipment for Scientific Underwater Research Enterprises. Later, she and her partner designed, built, and marketed the first civilian hyperbaric chamber for divers. They were evangelists for the purchase of hyperbaric around the world to provide lifesaving facilities for divers suffering from "the bends".
In 1954, Parry set a women's depth record to 209 feet. She is said to have stopped at 209 feet when she reached the bottom. That year, she became the third female instructor to graduate from the L.A. County UICC program.
Later in 1954, Parry made her screen debut in Kingdom of the Sea, a Jack Douglas Production, which was shown in 70 countries and had a successful run of several years.
Because of her work in Kingdom of the Sea, Parry was tapped by the producers of the new show, Sea Hunt. Parry has referred to Sea Hunt as an "underwater western". The lead character, Mike Nelson (played by Lloyd Bridges), was introduced to an undersea problem or villain at the start of the show. By the end of the half hour, he had resolved the problem. Parry's beauty and her knowledge of the sea and diving made her a natural to join the Sea Hunt show. She was cast without a single screen test. Her role in the series was primarily as a female underwater stunt double, but she did appear as an actress in a few episodes. She also assisted in teaching Mr. Bridges how to use scuba gear prior to the series going into production.
Parry’s acting continued on other shows, including GE Theatre, Wagon Train, Peter Gunn, The Magic Circus, and more. Parry continued as an actor for a number of years including many commercials and as a stunt woman on a wide variety of shows involving underwater scenes.
Most recently, she was in the film Tillamook Treasure, in which she played Sam, the owner of a hardware store.
Parry's experience goes beyond diving and acting. She is an accomplished photographer and writer. She has used her organizational skills to bring the beauty of underwater photography to the public. In 1957, Parry co-founded the International Underwater Film Festival that ran for 17 years. In 1960, she became the first elected woman president of the U/W Photographic Society.
She wrote and published a book with the late Albert Tillman, Scuba America Vol. I, the Human History of Sport Diving in America. The book is now also available as an eBook.
Parry received the NOGI Award for Distinguished Service, DEMAs Reaching Out Award, the Women's Scuba Association Scuba Diver of the Year Award, and the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Education Award. In 2001, Parry was made a "Lifetime Ambassador at Large", by The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences. In 2002, she was inducted into the Cayman Island International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame and received the Beneath the Sea Diver of the Year Award. Parry has been an ardent supporter of The Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) since its inception in 1999.
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