Brian Kelly

Actor in 'Flipper'

The 1960s children's television series
Flipper brought Brian Kelly's face into millions of homes around the world, along with a tame dolphin whose wile and skills helped to keep trouble at bay over 88 episodes. As Porter Ricks, the ranger at Coral Key Park's marine reserve in Florida, Kelly played the widowed father of two young boys, Sandy and Bud, in a programme that oozed wholesome family values.

Brian Kelly, actor and producer: born Detroit, Michigan 14 February 1931; married 1966 Laura Devon (one son; marriage dissolved), 1972 Valerie Ann Romero (one daughter; marriage dissolved); died Voorhees, New Jersey 12 February 2005.

The 1960s children's television series Flipper brought Brian Kelly's face into millions of homes around the world, along with a tame dolphin whose wile and skills helped to keep trouble at bay over 88 episodes. As Porter Ricks, the ranger at Coral Key Park's marine reserve in Florida, Kelly played the widowed father of two young boys, Sandy and Bud, in a programme that oozed wholesome family values.

At worst schmaltzy, at best providing exciting action and adventures on screen for young viewers, Flipper (1964-67) was renowned for the quality of its underwater photography. The series was filmed in Miami and the Bahamas, and was made by the Hungarian-American Ivan Tors's production company, which continued its speciality in wildlife shows with Daktari, about a vet in a remote African game reserve. Suzy, the dolphin picked to take the limelight in Flipper, was transported from location to location in a crate filled with foam and water.

Kelly himself first played Ricks in the 1964 feature film Flipper's New Adventure, a sequel to the previous year's Flipper. He took over the role from Chuck Connors, who was best known for playing villains on screen, and gave the character a milder side in the family-friendly adventure.

Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1931, the son of Harry F. Kelly, who later served as the state's governor, Kelly joined the Marine Corps during the Korean War, before studying law at the University of Michigan. But, after acting at school and university and finding a summer job as a male model, he left his studies to make radio and television commercials in Detroit, where he was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout.

His breakthrough came with a regular role, as Brian, in the police drama 21 Beacon Street (1959) and he followed it by playing Scott Ross, the racing car designer who owns a garage in partnership with a mechanic, in the adventure series Straightaway (1961-62).

Kelly made his feature film début in Thunder Island (1963), a hit-man drama co-written by the actor Jack Nicholson, before Flipper beckoned. He was back in the water for Around the World Under the Sea (1966), as one of a team of six scientists in an experimental submarine. It was a drama made by Ivan Tors Films in the wake of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and similar films.

He later starred in an Italian-French spaghetti western, Spara, Gringo, Spara ( Shoot, Grinto, Shoot, 1968). Then, three days into shooting the romantic drama The Love Machine, Kelly was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, which left his right arm and leg paralysed.

After winning $750,000 in a legal settlement, he used the money to build houses, aiming to produce films with the profits from their sale. His great success was in buying the rights to Philip K. Dick's 1968 science-fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and giving the film option to the actor Hampton Fancher, who turned it into a screenplay. Many drafts later, it became Blade Runner (1982), directed by Ridley Scott, with Kelly credited as executive producer.

Anthony Hayward

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Client Relationship Assistant / Business Support

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you willing to give fantastic Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Assistant Document Controller

£11000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Greenwich based firm of Archite...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum