Flipper was a TV series that made the kids go crazy, so why was it cancelled after 3 seasons?

In 1964, Ivan Tors films and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer got together and created Flipper. 

Flipper, a bottle nosed dolphin was the companion mammal of Porter Ricks, Chief Warden of the fictional Coral Key Park.

The show was dubbed an “aquatic lassie” and had a large following.

Flipper was filmed primarily in Miami at Greenwich Studios, and was produced in cooperation with Miami Seaquarium, located in Biscayne Bay. 


Who played Flipper?

Suzy was the female dolphin who first played Flipper, although Flipper was primarily played by Kathy, and from time to time, by Patty, Scotty and Squirt.  Females were chosen because they are less aggressive, and as a result, were in less fights, and consequently, had less scars.

While these five female dolphins played most all of the acting during the series, a male dolphin, Clown, was used for scenes involving tail work.

The voice for Flipper was not actually a dolphin at all, but in fact the heavily modified tune of a Kookaburra.

There were two trainers on the dolphin team, Robert Corbin and Ric O'Barry.  After production, Ric O'Barry on Oprah Winfrey’s “Earth Day Special” said that Kathy “was really depressed... You have to understand dolphins and whales are not [involuntary] air breathers like we are. Every breath they take is a conscious effort. They can end their life whenever. She swam into my arms and looked me right in the eye, took a breath and didn't take another one. I let her go and she sank straight down on her belly to the bottom of the tank."

Other animal cast members of note.

Pelican Pete.  Pete the Pelican was depicted in the original movie as Sandy’s pet before he met Flipper.  He appeared in several episodes as a recurring role.

Spray, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, was in a few episodes (real name was Chobee).  A Seal, a baby Elephant, Alligators, and a female albino dolphin who had no name, and finally, another female dolphin named Lorelei.  Lorelei became Flippers girlfriend near the end of the second season.

Human cast members

Porter Ricks (Real name: Brian Kelly).  A loving father, upstanding government employee, and rugged outdoorsman.  Porter is a widowed father with two sons, Sandy and Bud., and is Chief Warden at Coral Key Park. 

Sandy Ricks (Real name: Luke Halpin).  Porter’s oldest son, a mid-teen adolescent who sometimes has boyish mishaps, and made a few poor choices.  Despite this, he was deemed old enough for adult responsibilities. 

Bud Ricks (Real name: Tommy Norden).  Porter’s youngest son.  Bud was always in trouble in some form.  Many episodes are centered around Bud making a mistake.  Bud is gullible, which probably explains this, and falls for the tall tales that Hap Gorman tells him.

Hap Gorman (Real name: Andy Devine).  Hap was a carpenter, and loved spinning tall tales.  He bungled a lot of things, and this tried Porters patience.

Ulla Norstrand (Real name: Ulla Strömstedt).  Played a role during the second season.  Ulla was an oceanographer who was frequently working in Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve.  She had a miniature yellow submarine she often used for her oceanographic explorations. 

Warden Ed Dennis (Real name: Dan Chandler).  Ed was the park game keeper, and sometimes sidekick of Porter.  He also appeared in the feature films.


So…where did Flipper go?

Flipper ended in April 1967 at the conclusion of a two-part story.  Bud and Sandy grow up and plan to leave Coral Key, Sandy is accepted into the Coast Guard Academy, and Bud attend a private school.  A new family moves into the area , the Whitmans, with a widowed mother, and young son and daughter.  This left the series open for another possible season, but NBC declined to renew the series with such a large change to primary characters.