Mermaid Swimming in Front of an Underwater Filming Tank Designed by Newton "Newt" Perry



Dublin Core


Mermaid Swimming in Front of an Underwater Filming Tank Designed by Newton "Newt" Perry

Alternative Title

Underwater Filming Tank


Weeki Wachee Springs (Fla.)
Motion pictures--Production and direction
Underwater photography
Florida--In motion pictures
Perry, Newton, 1908-1987
Underwater cinematography--Equipment and supplies


A photograph of a mermaid swimming in front of an underwater filming tank created by Newton "Newt" Perry some time between 1950 and 1970. The photograph may be either from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park or from Newton "Newt" Perry's career as an underwater filmmaker.

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.


Perry, Newton


Original photograph of underwater filming tank, ca. 1950-1970: Personal Collection of Delee Perry.


Date Created

ca. 1950-1970

Date Copyrighted

ca. 1950-1970

Date Issued

ca. 1950-1970

Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original photograph of underwater filming tank, ca. 1950-1970.

Is Part Of




2.12 MB


Still Image


Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Weeki Wachee, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher
Humanities Teacher
Theater Teacher


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


Kephart, Anna

Digital Collection

Source Repository

Personal Collection of Delee Perry

External Reference

Florida Department of State. Division of Historical Resources. "Weeki Wachee Springs." Accessed May 15, 2020.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida State Parks. "History of Weeki Wachee." Accessed May 15, 2020.
Rizzo, Marian. "'Human Fish' Had a Life Filled With Aquatic Exploits." Ocala Star Banner. August 14, 2013. 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.
Turtle, Howard. "Kansas Citians Stage Shows in Deep Water in Florida." Kansas City Star. March 7, 1948.


Perry, Newton. “Mermaid Swimming in Front of an Underwater Filming Tank Designed by Newton "Newt" Perry.” RICHES of Central Florida accessed September 21, 2023,



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