Exterior of Underwater Theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Dublin Core

Title

Exterior of Underwater Theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Alternative Title

Underwater Theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Subject

Weeki Wachee Springs (Fla.)
Tourism--Florida
Springs--Florida
Parks--Florida
Mermaids--Florida
Perry, Newton, 1908-1987

Description

An exterior photograph of the underwater theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida, around 1950.

Newton "Newt" Perry was born in Valdosta, Georgia in 1908, and moved with his family to Ocala, Florida in 1922. He was a member of the swimming and diving teams at the University of Florida. Perry earned the nickname "The Human Fish" for his performances of underwater stunts in advertising clips and film shorts, and acted as a swim double for actors in movies and TV shows, including Johnny Weissmuller as "Tarzan." Perry also advised filmmakers filming underwater scenes at Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs, and Weeki Wachee Springs, and developed a system for breathing underwater using an air compressor and hose, which was used in the 1948 film "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid" and during Weeki Wachee Springs' mermaid shows.

Perry worked as a lifeguard, public school principal, coach, swimming and scuba diving instructor, and Ocala city pool manager. He opened Perry's Swim School in 1955, and taught more than 120,000 individuals to swim during his career. Perry was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 1981. Perry's daughter Delee Perry took over Perry's Swim School following her father's death in 1987, and it was still in operation as of 2020.

Along with a group of investors, Newton Perry opened Weeki Wachee Springs to the public in October of 1947, and used his experiences working at Silver Springs and Wakulla Springs to develop the original concepts for its underwater theater and mermaid shows. Perry sold his stake in Weeki Wachee Springs in 1950. After peaking in the 1950s and 1960s, attendance began to decline as theme parks and highways changed the dynamics of Florida's tourism. The State of Florida took over the attraction as a state park in 2008. Since then, the park has focused on appealing to a modern audience while preserving its history.

Creator

Perry, Newton

Source

Original photograph of underwater theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park: Personal Collection of Delee Perry.

Publisher

Date Created

ca. 1950

Date Copyrighted

ca. 1950

Date Issued

ca. 1950

Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original photograph of underwater theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

Is Part Of

Format

image/jpeg

Extent

1.77 MB

Type

Still Image

Coverage

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Weeki Wachee, Florida

Accrual Method

Donation

Mediator

History Teacher
Humanities Teacher
Theater Teacher

Provenance

Originally created by Newton "Newt" Perry, owned by Delee Perry, and published by RICHES.

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by Delee Perry and is provided here by RICHES for educational purposes only.

Contributing Project

Rebecca Schwandt's Thesis Project

Curator

Kephart, Anna

Digital Collection

Source Repository

Personal Collection of Delee Perry

External Reference

Florida Department of State. Division of Historical Resources. "Weeki Wachee Springs." https://dos.myflorida.com/historical/preservation/national-register/national-preservation-month-2020/weeki-wachee-springs/. Accessed May 15, 2020.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida State Parks. "History of Weeki Wachee." https://www.floridastateparks.org/learn/history-weeki-wachee. Accessed May 15, 2020.
Rizzo, Marian. "'Human Fish' Had a Life Filled With Aquatic Exploits." Ocala Star Banner. August 14, 2013. https://www.ocala.com/article/LK/20130814/News/604145183/OS. Accessed May 15, 2020.
Schwandt, Rebecca. "Revisiting Roadside Attractions: A 'Deep Dive' into Florida's Weeki Wachee Springs." Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019 (6189), 2018. https://stars.library.ucf.edu/etd/6189.
Turtle, Howard. "Kansas Citians Stage Shows in Deep Water in Florida." Kansas City Star. March 7, 1948.

Locations

Categories

Transcribe This Item

  1. IMAG0012.jpg