Rita Jane King


Mermaid Rita King feeding a fish underwater. In one hand she is holding food and the other hand is holding an air hose. She is kneeling on the spring floor. The photograph was taken in the 1960s.

Rita King grew up in St. Petersburg and New Port Richey. When friends came into town for a visit, Rita’s parents took everyone to Weeki Wachee to see a show and that is when Rita decided what she wanted to do for a living. “So I waited. I graduated from high school, came right up here and applied for a job and they gave me a water test and said, 'You passed it. We can hire you, but you have to be eighteen.'" She became a mermaid right after she turned eighteen. “Back then, that was a really good paying job for a young lady out of school. And yes, I did go and do a couple of college courses in the evening, but mostly I wanted to swim.”