|Season Three is now available on DVD - details here|
When Irwin Allen was preparing to film the third season episode of VTTBOTS entitled "The Mermaid," Diane Webber was hired to play a mermaid brought aboard the Seaview by Captain Crane.
If Lorelei's fins look familiar, it's because they show up again on film and television. The latex and fiberglass prosthetic tail was originally built for an American International release, The Mermaids of Tiburon in 1962. Diane Webber played the mermaid queen in this 1962 release directed by John Lamb. John Lamb was later hired to do underwater cinematography on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
It was probably Lamb's suggestion, and not only did it allow Irwin Allen to use the mermaid tail on the actress it was customized to fit, it also allowed him to him to use underwater footage of the actress from the film. In legendary Irwin Allen style, he saved a fortune in production costs on the move.
Marta Kristen, in a 1965 film role, wore the fish suit in a another AIP film, Beach Blanket Bingo.
Just like an actor's workshop: A visit to Voyage Stage 10
While many television regulars tire of their roles in a series, David Hedison seems to be an exception, with his portrayal of Commander Crane in Voyage to the bottom of the sea. Or so says the popular star who feels the series affords him a real chance "to expand as an actor."
Aboard the atomic submarine Seaview, David Hedison poised himself, about to attack his erstwhile superior, Admiral Nelson, played by Richard Basehart. Basehart turned just in time to see Hedison leap on him with murderous intent. Both men fell to the floor of the submarine, grappling in mortal combat. But the word, "Cut!" suddenly interrupted their fight.
And with the breathing time available, David Hedison sat down to relax, as director and crewman reset some of the interior lighting.
Why was David attacking his Admiral?
"I'm possessed," he cracked, catching his breath quickly and appearing ready for another go at it. "Seriously, in this scene, Crane has been taken over by an alien being who is controlling his actions and wants take over the Seaview as well. So I get to fight the Admiral."
"A story like this one is good for me," he reflected. "It gives me a chance to step out of the one-dimensional caricature of a submarine commander. It’s one of the reasons I like this series so much – it’s like an actor's workshop."
With Voyage heading into its fourth year of filming at a steady clip, Hedison might be expected to feel less than excited about doing the same type of role. But David says otherwise: "I get many chances to expand in this series. Commander Crane really goes through a lot of paces!"
Handsome, only 36, and extremely eligible, Hedison dates many of the most beautiful girls around Hollywood. Often they are his dinner guests at his nearby hilltop home.
Described as a "swinging pad," the house had many touches of Cape Cod about it before he "took down the flower boxes and gave it a new paint job. I spend my weekends there quite a lot," he said, “It’s like being out of the country, away from all the explosions here on the set."
The explosions he was referring to are the only special effects required by the show. Between the actors themselves there is only harmony and an absence of ill will. David’s closest friend is his co-star Richard Basehart. "He's a hard person to get to know," Hedison admitted, "but once you do get to know him he's very warm and out-going. We generally have lunch at the restaurant in Beverly Hillcrest Hotel – that’s about two city blocks from the studios – with some of the crew members or our Guest star of the week.
My favorite meal is a nice, lovely rare steak and ice cream. The studio cafeteria is all right once in a while, but getting off the lot gives me more of a chance to relax for an hour or two between filming."
When he feels the need to relax him a lot, there's always his dressing room. In it there is very little to indicate his personal tastes except his record player and a stack of albums.
"I like any kind of music.” His voice trailed off as he looked into the wings and saw an actor encasing himself in the latest “monster” costume.
"You know", Hedison said seriously, "that's my one pet peeve with this series. I can get tired of sea monsters in any season. If they are necessary to the plot and believable, that's well and good; but otherwise they're more laughable than entertaining."
"Of course, one thing I admire about Irwin Allen, the creator of the show, is that he reads most of the fan mail that comes to him and gets a good impression what his viewers want.
Then he tries to give it to them. I guess they want monsters at the moment; but I can't wait until the cycle switches back to character stories again -- even for a little while."
Sometimes he watches the show. "Generally I don't -- my nights are sort of busy on weekends, you understand -- but when there's a story on that I especially enjoy doing, then I tune in."
His reverie was interrupted at last as the director called for “places.” Hedison stood up and flexed his muscles in a parody of one of the shows monsters and growled a menacing “arrgghh.”
Flashing a smile as he started back into the set, he remarked, "I love this sort of thing. If we have another three month hiatus between seasons next spring, I’ll make a movie I’m planning in Italy and then come back to Commander Crane. But if the people behind the series, say that’s it, I’ll probably travel to New York to do a stage play. It’s not really time for me to slow down. I feel like I’ll still be young when I'm 70!”
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