DAD: Porter Ricks (Brian Kelly) / Widower (?)
DAD’S JOB: Park Ranger
KIDS: Sandy (Luke Halpin)(15), Bud (Tommy Norden)(10)
WHERE’S MOM?: Dead, maybe.
STAND-IN “MOM”: either oceanographer Ulla Norstrand (Ulla Stromstedt) or Flipper (?) (Suzy the Porpoise)
Porter Ricks is the reason real-life Dads don’t get custody very often. Sandy and Bud were never were seen in school, never did homework, hardly ever wore sunblock or shirts in the Florida sun, lived in an alligator-infested swamp, and frequently wound up having guns pointed at them by criminals. It’s arguable that Mr. Ricks was no mental marvel, as he couldn’t remember to take off his street shoes before diving off the side of his Chris Craft (which he did about once an episode).
Update: Alert Viewer Chris (CFROSTY@aol.com) noted the second season appearance of semi-girlfriend/would-be stepmom Ulla Norstrand. Thanks for pointing her out, Chris!
Update: Alert Viewer Bob Stone says the boat used in Flipper was NOT a Chris Craft, but a 25-foot Thunderbird, made in North Miami. “It was a new design and was given to the show for promotion use.” The boat also had one of the first Inboard/Outboard engines from OMC – which was quite an innovation at the time. Thanks for the info, Bob!
Note: The series was resurrected in 1995, with Bud growing up to become a marine biologist. That series doesn’t count as a TV Single Dad show, though, because Porter Ricks is missing from the cast.