Ain't She Sweet?
There is something particularly charming about a vintage mermaid costume. Be it for a movie, pageant or floor show. It combines pinup sexiness with demure innocence, in a mystical fantasy package. Here are a few of my favorite examples of mermaids from yesteryear.
1918 Queen of the Sea
This picture shows the failry rudimentry costume of Annette Kellerman in her title role in the silent movie Merrilla, the Queen of the Sea.
In this movie Merrilla is trying to save four human lives to be given a human soul.
Kellerman was a strong swimmer who appeared as a mermaid in multiple films including Neptune's Daughter (clips shown below).
1948 Mr Peabody and the Mermaid
In this movie a middle-aged Bostonian captured a mermaid and takes her home to live in his bathtub.
Ann Blyth plays the mermaid who is mute but whom Mr. Peabody names Lenore. She practiced for a week before the move in order to be able to safely swim in the costume.
The character of Lenore does not speak at all throughout the movie, although she does laugh and sing (without using words).
In this movie (1948 was a good year for mermaids) Miranda rescues and becomes enamored with a doctor. Unlike Mr Peabody and the Mermaid (a US production) Miranda was filmed in the United Kingdom.
The mermaid is played by Glynis Johns.
Her tail was made by the fashion house Donlop at the cost of $18000.
A sequel called "Mad About Men" was released in 1954.
1961 Night Tide
A full length version of this film can be found on Youtube. A sailor (played by Dennis Hopper) comes to suspect a sideshow mermaid may be the real thing. Mora the possibly literal siren is played by Linda Lawson.
1962 Mermaids of Tiburon
This movie stared Diane Webber as the mermaid queen, amongst a whole school of mermaids that help a diver discover treasure.
The movies was re-edited and released several times with varying levels of topless exposure. It was released in 1962, mainly on military bases.
1962 Miss Universe
Miss Universe 1962 was Miss Norma Nolan. Nolan was the first woman from Argentina to win the title.
She is pictured here visiting Weeki Wachi Springs, lending her crown to the mermaid Bonita--and being considerably upstaged.
Weeki Wachi still has a live mermaid show, a feature of the resort since 1947.
1963 Detroit Auto Show
A trade show mermaid posing, appropriately enough, on a Plymouth Barracuda.
The photograph features in a book about auto-show models by Margery Krevsky. The author says: "I have yet to find out who that model was. I'd love to know, and I keep hoping that someday someone is going to come up to me with that name".
Other Vintage Mermaid Sites:
- A History of Mermaids on Film | Funk's House of Geekery
Queen of the Sea (1918) In this film Annette Kellerman plays Merrilla, Queen of the Sea, who discovers that if she saves four human lives she can have a mortal human body with an immortal soul. King Boreas, master of storms (Walter Law) captures her