Diver Dan

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For the character on the Australian television series SeaChange, see Daniel Della Bosca.
Cover from Alpha Video's 2006 DVD release of Diver Dan.

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)[1] 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.


Diver Dan 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 affiliate WCAU-TV, produced two Fish Tales live-action marionette 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 them.[2]

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, which also included Felix the Cat.[3] In Chicago during the 1960s, Diver Dan was regularly shown on the WGN-TV show "Ray Rayner and His Friends" even though Rayner would frequently read on-air letters from children requesting that he get other cartoons.

Main cast[edit]

  • Allen Swift as the voices of many puppets, the unseen Captain Murphy and the narrator
  • Frank Freda as Diver Dan. Freda is a playwright who received the Waldo Bellow Award for his play, Lunchtime. He has acted in a number of TV commercials, and was an early Ronald McDonald.
  • Suzanne Turner as Miss Minerva, a mermaid, who referred to Diver Dan only as "the Diver" and shyly kept away from him.

Dramatis personæ[edit]

The characters included Diver Dan and Miss Minerva, the Captain (heard but not seen), and a puppet cast (with very obvious strings) 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, you idiot!"—to which Trigger would reply, "Okay, Baron, you idiot." All of the script writing was at a similar level.

Baron Barracuda wore a monocle in one eye, and spoke in a vaguely European accent; he sounded like a Bela Lugosi "Dracula" imitation. Trigger always had an apparently unlit cigarette jutting from the side of his mouth and sounded a bit like Ed Norton from The Honeymooners.

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.

DVD release[edit]

Alpha Video released two collections of Diver Dan episodes on DVD (Region 0). All episodes in both volumes are black & white.

Diver Dan (Catalog # ALP 5152D, UPC #0 89218 51529 2, Release Date September 26, 2006)
01 (Episode #34) THE BUBBLING PIT
02 (Episode #35) THE VOLCANO
03 (Episode #36) DEPTH CHARGE
04 (Episode #25) GOLDIE'S HEROISM
05 (Episode #26) DYNAMITE
06 (Episode #27) GHOST IS CLEAR
07 (Episode #37) SCHOOL DAZE
08 (Episode #38) STRANGE VINES
09 (Episode #39) SAVAGE SEAWEED
10 (Episode #12) BARON'S CAPTURE
11 (Episode #13) AN UNUSUAL TREASURE
12 (Episode #14) TRIGGER'S REVENGE
14 (Episode #21) SARGASSO SEA

Diver Dan Volume 2 (Catalog # ALP 5710D, UPC #0 89218 57109 0)
01 (Episode #01) HARD WATER
02 (Episode #02) GOLDIE THE GOLDFISH
03 (Episode #03) TALKING FISH
04 (Episode #04) SKIPPER'S GOLD
05 (Episode #05) TREASURE SHIP
06 (Episode #06) SAWFISH RESCUE
07 (Episode #32) THE STRANGE FISH
08 (Episode #33) THE BOMB
09 (Episode #23) CURRENT FLOW
10 (Episode #24) THE STORM
11 (Episode #11) TEETERING ROCK
12 (Episode #40) THE MAGNET
13 (Episode #31) CRAWLING DANGER
14 (Episode #16) THE VERDICT
15 (Episode #17) HORACE'S DILEMMA

Three DVD (Region 0) releases have also been produced by East West Entertainment LLC. All episodes in all three volumes are black & white.

Diver Dan Vol. One (UPC #8 43156 02012 2)
Episode #01 - HARD WATER
Episode #03 - TALKING FISH
Episode #04 - SKIPPER'S GOLD
Episode #05 - TREASURE SHIP
Episode #06 - SAWFISH RESCUE
Episode #07 - SHELL-O-PHONE
Episode #08 - THE OCTOPUS
Episode #09 - MURDER INK (Each of the first 8 episodes has its own chapter stop except for this one. It continues immediately after Episode 08. Pressing >> skips Episode 09 and cycles back to Episode 01.)

Diver Dan Vol. 2 (UPC #8 43156 02014 6)
Episode #01 - HARD WATER
Episode #03 - TALKING FISH
Episode #04 - SKIPPER'S GOLD
Episode #05 - TREASURE SHIP
Episode #06 - SAWFISH RESCUE
Episode #07 - SHELL-O-PHONE
Episode #08 - THE OCTOPUS
Episode #09 - MURDER INK
(Followed by five Van Beuren Corporation and three Fleischer Studios cartoons on Track 2)

Diver Dan Vol. 3 (UPC #8 43156 02015 3)
Episode #19 - THE TRAP IS SPRUNG
Episode #21 - SARGASSO SEA
Episode #23 - CURRENT FLOW

In addition to these DVD releases, the television series was shown in full color during the late 60s & early 70s on "Ray Rayner and Friends". This early morning kid's show was produced by Chicago's WGN-TV/Channel 9. The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention also occasionally shows episodes as fillers between movies.

"The Ballad of Diver Dan"[edit]

The series opening and closing themes were written, performed, and sung by the show's sound engineer, Jack Sky, in a double tracked recorded voice. [2]

  • Opening theme

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!

Following those opening lyrics, the narrator sums up the recent situation in a short group of rhymes, during the second half of the song as an instrumental, before the episode resumes. Before the closing sung lyrics, the narrator brings up the new situation in a short group of rhymes, during the first half of the song, as an instrumental, as the episode concludes.

  • Closing theme

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[edit]

Dell Publishing issued a Diver Dan comic book, as issue #1254 (February–April 1962) of its series Four Color.[2] A follow-up issue #2 was published dated June–August 1962 and then was cancelled. Diver Dan episodes are also available at tv4u.com.

In 1964, songwriter and record producer Tony Piano of Columbia Records put out a children's album based on the series titled "Diver Dan and the Bermuda Onion." With the exception of the theme song, which he legally borrowed from the series, Piano wrote the story, music, and lyrics for the album. His inspiration for producing it was his two young children at the time, who were 'hooked' on the Diver Dan TV series. In addition to producing the album, Piano took on three of the roles: Trigger, Sam the Sawfish, and Skipper Kipper. Aiding Piano on the album was the famous comedian Del Close, playing the role of Baron Barracuda. "Birthday House" and children's album star Kay Lande played Minerva the Mermaid.


  • Diver Dan Episode 01 Hard Water
  • Diver Dan Episode 02 Goldie The Goldfish
  • Diver Dan Episode 03 Talking Fish
  • Diver Dan Episode 04 Skippers Gold
  • Diver Dan Episode 05 Treasure Ship
  • Diver Dan Episode 06 Sawfish Rescue
  • Diver Dan Episode 07 Shell O Phone
  • Diver Dan Episode 08 The Octopus
  • Diver Dan Episode 09 Murder Ink
  • Diver Dan Episode 10 Bottomless Pit
  • Diver Dan Episode 11 Teetering Rock
  • Diver Dan Episode 12 Barons Capture
  • Diver Dan Episode 13 An Unusual Treasure
  • Diver Dan Episode 14 Triggers Revenge
  • Diver Dan Episode 15 An Unusual Fish
  • Diver Dan Episode 16 The Verdict
  • Diver Dan Episode 17 Horaces Dilemma
  • Diver Dan Episode 18 The Trap
  • Diver Dan Episode 19 The Trap Is Sprung
  • Diver Dan Episode 20 Riddle Of The Hermit Crab
  • Diver Dan Episode 21 Sargasso Sea
  • Diver Dan Episode 22 Lost In The Sargasso Sea
  • Diver Dan Episode 23 Current Flow
  • Diver Dan Episode 24 The Storm
  • Diver Dan Episode 25 Goldies Heroism
  • Diver Dan Episode 26 Dynamite
  • Diver Dan Episode 27 Ghost Is Clear
  • Diver Dan Episode 28 Captain Barney
  • Diver Dan Episode 29 Lost City
  • Diver Dan Episode 30 Secret Of The Throne
  • Diver Dan Episode 31 Crawling Danger
  • Diver Dan Episode 32 The Strange Fish
  • Diver Dan Episode 33 The Bomb
  • Diver Dan Episode 34 The Bubbling Pit
  • Diver Dan Episode 35 The Volcano
  • Diver Dan Episode 36 Depth Charge
  • Diver Dan Episode 37 School Daze
  • Diver Dan Episode 38 Strange Vines
  • Diver Dan Episode 39 Savage Seaweed
  • Diver Dan Episode 40 The Magnet


  • 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, Alfred Sandstrom
  • 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


The children's show Spongebob Squarepants seems to have some influence from Diver Dan; either directly parodying or paying homage. In the episode "One Krabs Trash", Mr. Krabs goes to a graveyard to retrieve a "soda-drink-hat", and there is a gravestone that reads "Diver Dan".



External links[edit]