Newt Perry and Weeki Wachee Mermaid Performing Show


Dublin Core


Newt Perry and Weeki Wachee Mermaid Performing Show

Alternative Title

Weeki Wachee Mermaid in Ballet Pose with Newt Perry Posing Behind Her


Weeki Wachee Springs (Fla.)
Perry, Newton, 1908-1987


Newt Perry and a Weeki Wachee mermaid posing underwater, performing a show. The two are swimming near a prop that resembles a castle.

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.


Black and White photograph of Newt Perry and Weeki Wachee Mermaid


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


Date Created

c. 1940s-1950s

Date Copyrighted

c. 1940s-1950s

Date Issued

c. 1940s-1950s

Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original photograph of Newt Perry and a Weeki Wachee mermaid.

Is Part Of




4.84 MB


Still Image


Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher
Humanities Teacher
Visual Arts Teacher
Theater Teacher

Rights Holder

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

Contributing Project

Florida Humanities Council Community Grant Program and Friends of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park


Schwandt, Rebecca

Digital Collection

Source Repository

Personal Collection of Delee Perry

External Reference

Allman, T.D. Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013
Ammidown, Margot. “Edens, Underworlds, and Shrines: Florida’s Small Tourist Attractions.” The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts 23, (1998): 238-259.
Georgiadis, Bonnie and Lu Vickers. Weeki Wachee Mermaids. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2012.
Hollis, Tim. Glass Bottom Boats and Mermaid Tails: Florida’s Tourist Springs. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2006.
Pelland, Dan and Maryan Pelland. Images of America: Weeki Wachee. Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.
Revels, Tracy J. Sunshine Paradise: A History of Florida Tourism. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011.
Vickers, Lu. Weeki Wachee City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida’s Oldest Roadside Attractions. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.


“Newt Perry and Weeki Wachee Mermaid Performing Show,” RICHES, accessed July 18, 2024,