BEHIND THE DOLPHIN SMILE by Richard with Keith Coulbourn O'Barry


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An engaging memoir from the self-taught lover of dolphins who trained the TV star Flipper but later turned against keeping dolphins in captivity. O'Barry was born in 1939 in Miami and grew up loving water and undersea life; in 1955, he lied about his age, joined the Navy, and trained himself to be a diver, even winning a commendation for underwater work. After a brief stint treasure-hunting, he went to work capturing dolphins for the famous Miami Seaquarium, hunting them down and trapping them in Biscayne Bay, unworried (at that time) that only one out of ten survived in captivity. He began training the dolphins to do stunts for the crowds the Seaquarium drew (including Dr. John Lilly, the neurologist who worked with dolphins' brains). When Hollywood called for Flipper, in the early 60's, O'Barry and Suzie, Kathy, Patti, Scottie, and Squirt were ready--because not only was Flipper a female, ""he"" was five of them. Some of the most pleasurable moments of O'Barry's book describe his ingenious stunts for the TV show (which is still re-running in places like Bali). But as the Age of Aquarius dawned, O'Barry found himself turned off by the idea of capturing these wonderful mammals. In 1970, he flew to the Bahamas to release a captive dolphin named Charlie Brown--the attempt was unsuccessful (Charlie wouldn't come out), but O'Barry's arrest and public statements caused a brief splash of publicity. These days, he helps scientists study dolphins without harming them. A refreshing, down-to-earth look at men, dolphins, and television in the 60's. O'Barry resurrects those brilliant old Flipper scripts: ""FATHER: 'You say that Dr. Goodwin went off in the submarine by himself?' BUD: 'Not by himself, Dad. Flipper's with him!'

Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
Publisher: Algonquin