10 Interesting Facts About Splash

I like to compare the making of this film to the story of The Little Engine That Could.

When producer Brian Grazer pitched the film, he was repeatedly turned down. At the time, Warner Brothers had lined up Warren Beatty to play the star in another mermaid movie. To sweeten a prospective deal with Walt Disney Productions, director Ron Howard promised to film Splash quickly and cheaply.

Howard kept his promise and produced the film on an $8 million budget. Principal photography began on March 1, 1983 and was completed by June 30, 1983.

Splash grossed $6,174,059 in its opening weekend and finished its domestic run with $69,821,334, making it the tenth highest-grossing film of 1984.

As for the film starring Warren Beatty…it eventually fell through.

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Here are 10 interesting facts about this popular film:

1. Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Richard Gere, Kevin Kline, Bill Murray, and John Travolta were considered for the lead role before the producers decided upon Tom Hanks.

2. Daryl Hannah was Producers’ Choice #11. Tatum O’Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lynne Frederick, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Genie Francis, Melanie Griffith, Fiona Fullerton, Diane Lane, Kathleen Turner, and Sharon Stone turned down the part of Madison.

3. The beach where Tom Hanks first encounters the nude mermaid is on the former Gorda Cay in the Bahamas.

4. During childhood, Daryl Hannah swam “mermaid” style with her legs bound together.

5. The elaborately designed mermaid tail by Academy Award-winning visual effects artist Robert Short was fully functional, allowing Daryl to swim so fast her safety team could not keep pace with her.

6. The mermaid tail had to be glued onto Daryl before being hand painted, a detailed process that took eight hours. To avoid using the bathroom, Daryl ate and drank very little. She stayed in her water tank and accepted bits of food thrown by the cast and crew.

7. Unfortunately, the tail decomposed very quickly after the movie’s release. Despite its decomposed state, it was put on display in a glass showcase at Planet Hollywood in Orlando, Florida.

8. The name “Madison” rose in popularity soon after the release of Splash. In 1990, it was the 216th most popular name for girls. Five years later, it rose to #29 and by 2000 had become the third most popular female name in the United States.

9. Well received by critics, Splash earned a 92% “Fresh” rating from the website Rotten Tomatoes.

10. Over three decades later, Daryl is still recognized by fans (many of whom have been named after her character Madison) of the 1984 romantic comedy.


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A Mermaid Hoax

barnummermaidIn 1842, Phineas Barnum obtained a dead mermaid from the estate of a dead sailor who had purchased it from Japanese sailors. The sailors had captured the mermaid near the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific.

Intrigued, Barnum visited a naturalist who quickly dismissed the find, claiming that “he never knew a monkey with such peculiar teeth, arms, hands nor had he knowledge of a fish with such peculiar fins.”

The following conversation took place:

Barnum: “Then why do you suppose it is manufactured?”

Naturalist: “Because I don’t believe in mermaids.”

Barnum: “That is no reason at all, and therefore I’ll believe in the mermaid and hire it.” Barnum displayed the mermaid in his Museum in New York and attracted large crowds and media attention.

The controversy continued in the New York Sun where the following review appeared:

“We’ve seen it! What? Why that Mermaid! The mischief you have! Where? What is it? It’s a twin sister to the deucedest looking thing imaginable—half fish, half flesh; and taken by and large, the most odd of all oddities earth or sea has ever produced.”

Unfortunately, the mermaid was destroyed in a fire. Many replicas of the Fiji Mermaid (also called Feejee Mermaid) were created by sewing the head and torso of a juvenile monkey to the back half of a fish. These “mermaids” were common features of sideshows.


Mermaid Sightings In Our 2K World

mermaidsightingsWhile skeptics do exist, there are many people in our 2K world who are intrigued by the prospect of mermaids. Each new sighting raises expectations and generates renewed interest among the scientific community, local governments, and media outlets.

2008: Late one evening, Daniel Cupido and his friends heard an unusual sound while walking along the beach in Suurbraak, a village in the Western Cape of South Africa. Upon approaching, Cupido found a figure “like that of a white woman with long, black hair trashing about in the water.” When he tried to help, she uttered a sorrowful sound. Local tourism officer Maggy Jantijies vouched for the credibility of the group.

2009: Shlomo Cohen was one of the first to see the mermaid near Kiryat Yam in Israel. He provided the following report for the Israel National News: “I was with friends when suddenly we saw a woman lying on the sand in a weird way. At first, I thought she was just another sunbather, but when we approached she jumped into the water and disappeared. We were all in shock because we saw she had a tail.” More reports followed from dozens of spectators who described the mermaid as “half girl, half fish, jumping like a dolphin.” In response to these sightings, the local government has offered a $1 million reward to the first person who can provide conclusive footage capturing a real mermaid.

2012: In Zimbabwe, Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo informed a Senate Comittee that mermaids were hounding government workers off dam sights in the Gokwe and Mutare reservoirs. Several workers were reported missing while others refused to perform their duties. Concerned about the welfare of their people, traditional chiefs of the region were planning to perform rituals to get rid of these mermaids. In an interview, Chief Chihota commented: “As a custodian of the traditional, I have no doubt.”

2013: On a deep-sea exploration contracted by the Iceland GeoSurvey, Dr. Torsten Schmidt and his Danish team worked on seismic mapping and sampling of the ocean floor, hoping to locate promising sites for oil and natural gas reserves. Approximately 3000 feet below the ocean’s surface, Dr. Schmidt observed and heard interesting phenomena. His request to conduct an investigation was denied, and he was reminded of the confidentiality agreement he had signed. But he did make the following comments: “Well, I looked at it, and knew I was looking into the face of another intelligent species, like us.”

On a personal note…

When I visited Newfoundland, I encountered the following mermaid at the entrance to Bay Bulls. A short drive from downtown St. John’s, this community has been in existence for almost 400 years, making it one of the oldest in North America.

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More Mermaid Sightings: 1800 – 2000

mermaidhistoryIn last week’s post, I focused on mermaid sightings before 1800. Today, I will share selected sightings between 1800 and 2000. I have omitted any possible manatee sightings and hoaxes.

During Manatee Awareness Month (November), I will devote a post to those slow-moving, blubbery sea cows that are often mistaken for mermaids.

1811: John McIsaac of Scotland testified under oath that he saw an animal that had a white, upper half with the shape of a human body and lower half covered with scales and a tail. He judged the creature to be between four and five feet long. He noted its long, light brown hair and fingers close together. An article in the London Mirror, included the following testimonial: “The Minister of Campbeltown and the Chamberlain of Mull attest his examination and declare that they know no reason why his veracity should be questioned.”

1830: When villagers at Benbecula (Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland) sighted a small woman on shore, they tried but failed to capture her. They then decided to pelt her with rocks. Several days later, her corpse washed ashore. The following description appeared in the publication Hidden Animals: “The upper part of the body was about the size of a well-developed child of three or four years of age, with an abnormally developed breast. The hair was long, dark, and glossy, while the skin was white, soft, and tender. The lower part of the body was like a salmon but without scales.”

1857: The Shipping Gazette reported the following sighting by Scottish seamen, John Williamson and John Cameron, off the coast of Britain: “We distinctly saw an object about six yards distant from us in the shape of a woman, with full breast, dark complexion, comely face, and fine hair hanging in ringlets over the neck and shoulders. It was about the surface of the water to about the middle, gazing at us and shaking its head. The weather being fine, we had a full view of it and that for three or four minutes.”

1886: The first mermaid sighting in Cape Breton (island off the coast of Nova Scotia) captured the attention of the local townspeople and was featured in the Cape Brooklyn Eagle Newspaper: “The fishermen of Gabarus, Cape Breton have been excited over the appearances of a mermaid…The face, head, shoulders and arms resembled those of a human being, but the lower extremities had the appearance of a fish. The back of its head was covered with long, dark hair resembling a horse’s mane. The arms were shaped like a human being’s, except that the fingers of one hand were very long. The color of the skin was not unlike that of a human being.”

1943: Several mermaids were spotted by Japanese soldiers off the shores of the Kei Islands in Indonesia. One mermaid was actually sighted on the beach, giving the soldiers ample opportunity to provide the following description: roughly 4-foot 9-inches tall, pinkish skin, human looking face and limbs, spikes along its head, and mouth like a carp. Later, Sgt. Taro Horiba heard the news of a dead mermaid on shore and decided to investigate. He urged scientists to study mermaids but failed to convince the scientific community.

1991: About 30 percent of the remains of an unknown, human-like creature were found in the belly of a dead great white shark in South Africa. Upon examination, it was determined that the creature had hands and a humanoid skull. The researchers suggested that the stingray barb jammed in the shark’s jaw could be a mermaid’s weapon.

10 Mermaid Sightings Before 1800

mermaidhistoryBefore writing Between Land and Sea, I researched mermaid sightings. I expected to find only a handful of examples and was surprised by the lengthy list and vivid descriptions that emerged. So much so, that I’ve devoted several posts to this topic.

Today, I will focus on ten documented sightings before 1800.

1. First Century AD: Roman author, naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote about the Nereids that were found dead on the seashore. He described their bodies as rough and scaly like fish and then went on to share other supporting evidence: “I have, too, some distinguished informants of equestrian rank, who state that they themselves once saw in the ocean of Gades a sea-man.”

2. Between 1040 and 1105: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki wrote about mermaids in the Talmud: “There are fish in the sea with which half is in the form of man and half in the form of fish, called sereine in Old French.”

3. During the same period, Moshav Zekeinim provided the following details about mermaids (Sirens) in a commentary on the Torah: “This refers to the creature in the sea which is similar in part to a person, from the navel upwards, and it is similar to a woman in all aspects in that it has breasts and long hair like that of a woman, and from the navel downwards, it is a fish. And it sings beautifully, with a pleasant voice.”

4. 13th Century: The King’s Mirror, a Norwegian educational text originally intended to provide King Magnus Lagabote with advice on various subjects, included the following description of a creature found off the shores of Greenland: “Like a woman as far down as her waist, long hands, and soft hair, the neck and head in all respects like those of a human being. The hands seem to be long, and the fingers not to be pointed, but united into a web like that on the feet of water birds. From the waist downwards, this monster resembles a fish, with scales, tail, and fins…This monster has a very horrible face, with broad bow and piercing eyes, a wide mouth and double chin.”

5. 1389: In his book, Eastern Travels of John Hesse, the author described the perils encountered during his voyages. He wrote: “We came to a stony mountain, where we heard syrens singing, mermaids who draw ships into danger by their songs. We saw there many horrible monsters and were in great fear.”

6. 1403: During a heavy storm, a mermaid drifted inland through a broken dyke on the Dutch coast. At first afraid but later intrigued, several local women and their servants befriended the mermaid. They took the mermaid home and tried to domesticate her, clothing and feeding her dairy products and meats. After a number of thwarted escapes into the sea, the mermaid resigned herself to her new life and died fifteen years later. John Swan, an English minister, described her story in Speculum Mundi, a book released in 1635.

7. 1493: After spotting three mermaids rising from the sea, Christopher Columbus wrote in the ship’s journal: “They were not as beautiful as they are painted, although to to some extent they have a human appearance in the face.” He noted that he had seen similar creatures off the coast of West Africa.

8. 1608: After two of his company reported a mermaid sighting, explorer Henry Hudson wrote in the ship’s journal: “Two crew members–Thomas Hilles and Robert Rayner–sighted a mermaid at 75o7’N (Russia) and shouted at the rest of the crew to come and look…From the navel upward her back and breast were like a woman’s, as they say that saw her; her body as big as one of ours; her skin very white and long hair hanging down behind, of colour black. In her going down, they saw her tail, which was like the tail of a porpoise, and speckled like a mackerel.”

9. 1614: Captain John Smith, of Pocahontas fame, reported a mermaid off the cost of Massachusetts: “The upper part of her body perfectly resembled that of a woman, and she was swimming about with all possible grace near the shore. It had large eyes, rather too round, a finely shaped nose (a little too short), well-formed ears, rather too long, and her long green hair imparted to her an original character by no means unattractive.”

10. 1797: While walking on the shore of Sandside Bay (Scotland), schoolteacher William Munro spotted a mermaid sitting upon a rock. In his letter to Dr. Torrance in Glasgow, he wrote: “…my attention was arrested by the appearance of a figure resembling an unclothed human female, sitting upon a rock extending into the sea, and apparently in the action of combing its hair, which flowed around its shoulders, and of a light brown colour…The cheeks ruddy, the eyes blue, the mouth and lips of a natural form, resembling those of a man; the teeth I could not discover, as the mouth was shut; the breasts and abdomen, the arms and fingers of the size in which the hands were employed, did not appear to be webbed, but as to this I am not positive.” The complete letter appeared in The Times of London on September 8, 1809.

Mondays for Mermaids

Today, I’m launching a series to honor those fascinating creatures that have enchanted humankind for centuries. A life-long fan, I’ve written two books (and am planning a third) about the mermaids of the Mediterranean Kingdom.

In Between Land and Sea, I introduced an overweight, middle-aged ex-mermaid who uses a magic tablet to reinvent herself. I continue her story in The Coming of Arabella, and add a psychological twist: a mermaid sister who is somewhere on the Narcissist/Sociopath continuum.

Over the coming weeks, I will focus on different aspects of the mermaid psyche, history, and lifestyle.

I’ll start with Mermaid History.

mermaidhistoryIn Greek mythology, Sirens had beautiful voices and cruel hearts. Many less-than-enchanting stories have been written about Sirens distracting mariners and causing them to walk off decks or run their ships aground. More spiteful Sirens would not hesitate to squeeze the life out of men and drown them.

In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus went to great lengths to avoid being seduced by the hypnotic music of the Sirens. He ordered his men to stuff balls of wax into their ears while approaching the Sirens’ island off the coast of Greece. And he tied himself to the ship’s mast so he would not be able to jump off, swim to shore or do anything that would endanger his own life or that of the crewmen. According to Greek legend, Odysseus is the only man in the world who actually heard the Sirens sing and lived to tell about it.

I discovered this four-minute short on YouTube. Mermaid enthusiasts will recognize scenes from the the movies Odyssey and Splash. The background music is Caribbean Blue from Enya.

Enjoy!

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