The TV show Sea Hunt was the most popular of its day and one of the most popular such shows ever produced. One reason for its popularity was the almost constant promotion of the show by ZIV Productions, the producer.
Not only did Lloyd Bridges meet with fans in local malls and sports shops, but a lot of promotional items were produced and distributed to potential Sea Hunt fans.
Of course, everything related to Sea Hunt helped increase its visibility, comics, games, books, etc., but some items fall into none of those categories and were made for the sole purpose of promoting the show.
60 FEET BELOW
IMAGES TO COME
This is an odd section in my collection. Some Sea Hunt collectors ignore it and may even say that TV Guides and related materials are not really Sea Hunt memorabilia.
I obviously disagree and feel that since the material refers directly and solely to the TV show and, it was all authorized by ZIV TV Productions, it qualifies in a couple of ways as Sea Hunt collectible.
I have TV Guides from around the world – lots from the USA, but from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and even some South American countries like Chile and Argentina. If nothing else, these show the universal, world-wide appeal of the Sea Hunt.
Of course, the guides I most enjoy are those with a pictures of Mike Nelson on the front but many have interesting Sea Hunt articles inside. I have learned a lot of not-too-well-known information from these articles as they were written at the time the show was running. Some of the guides are collected only because they have great Sea Hunt advertisements too.
Note as well that ‘TV Guide’ is the name of a specific publication and the one that endured for many, many years. Many TV guides had different titles as other publishers tried to capture part of the TV guide market.
So here’s a collection of TV Guides and other TV Show Promotional materials, a part of my collection that continues to grow.
I have listed the TV Guides alphabetically based on their country of origin, although I have put the USA and Canadian guides first. The USA guides are listed in 2 parts – East Coast and West Coast and then alphabetically by city.
USA TV Guides East Coast
1. Atlanta, GA 1958
There is no reference to Sea Hunt on the cover of this guide and not even an article about what was becoming the most watched TV show in TV history to that point but, on pages A-6 and A-7 appear two different ads for the show. Both ads are interesting and feature great pictures of Mike Nelson.
2. Boston, MA 1961
This little TV Guide (only 16 pages including the covers) is actually called Television Week.
It has a good B&W picture of Mike Nelson on the front cover and also a full page article about Sea Hunt and Lloyd Bridges’ career on the back cover.
3. Boston, MA 1962
While technically at the end of Sea Hunt, the show was still being shown by hundreds of TV studios and this guide, Called ‘TVue’, published by The Boston Sunday Advertiser, has a cute colored caricature of Lloyd Bridges on the large front cover. It depicts him getting out of the water and out of his skin diving gear (as in leaving Sea Hunt) and changing into a suit and tie (as for his new show). There is also a good, long article (pages 12 & 23) about Lloyd and his career and the success he had on Sea Hunt.
4. Buffalo, NY 1965
This guide, called TV Tab and published by the Sunday Democrat & Chronicle, came out long after Sea Hunt filming had stopped but, Sea Hunt was still showing as illustrated by the listings in this guide and, the article about Lloyd Bridges new show, The Loner, refers to his long and successful career as the frogman hero, Mike Nelson.
The front cover is a color caricature of Lloyd in his new role, sidearm and all. The full page article on page 24 has a nice picture of him. It’s definitely Mike Nelson regardless of what he is called.
5. Chicago, IL 1958
TV Week, published by the Chicago Daily Tribune has a colorful picture of Mike Nelson with Zale Parry, his pretty co-star in the article on page 4. It also talks about another famous contributor to the show as a Technical Advisor – Jon Lindberg (jr).
6. Chicago, IL 1989
Why do I have a TV guide from 1989? Simple – it has picture of Lloyd Bridges on the front cover (although in a suit & tie AND wearing a fedora) but also a nice, long article (1 ½ pages) with several great color pictures including one of Mike Nelson standing with Zale Parry.
Sorry, if you don’t think this is legitimate Sea Hunt memorabilia, subtract 1 from my total list of Sea Hunt items.
This guide is called TV Week and published by the prestigious Chicago Tribune.
7. MORE TO COME
ZIV studio produced a special medallion on a small chain that featured the Sea Hunt show. This medallion was given out by members of the cast, including Lloyd Bridges. Lucky recipients might be fans who gathered to meet ‘Mike Nelson’ at their local sports shops, family members of the cast and crew or others who met Lloyd Bridges at various television events.
The coins were incredibly popular and were treasured by Sea Hunt fans. While hundreds were presented, surprisingly few exist today and they are still treasures to any Sea Hunt collector who has one. In fact, so desirable are the coins that many duplicates have been made in the past few years.
The original coins were made from aluminum and are easily recognized by their very light weight. The coin is about 1¼” in diameter and maybe ¼” thick. The edge is smooth but there is a ring of serrations on both sides all around the circumference.
On the face side of the coin is a head shot of Mike Nelson, mask on his forehead and regulator about his neck. This side is printed with the words GOOD LUCK at the top and LLOYD BRIDGES across the bottom.
The back side of the coin shows Mike Nelson again but this time he is swimming across the coin. Across the top is printed SEA HUNT and on the bottom, MIKE NELSON.
Most of the coin is quite highly polished but some areas are left dull to make the features more visible and other areas purposely have a coarse, almost sandblasted look to them. A very close look at the lettering for example will reveal that they have many tiny bumps on them to make them stand out from the shiny background.
The detail in the images is pretty amazing. You can see bubbles coming from Mike’s regulator as he swims and his fins and even his tank straps and his knife are quite visible. Ardent Sea Hunt fans will recognize the VOIT B4 mask that he is wearing in the face picture. The regulator hoses are clearly corrugated and the top of his double tanks with the reserve valve can be seen behind his head. A close look will even reveal the zipper on the neck of his wetsuit.
At the top of the coin, between the words Sea Hunt or Good Luck, there is a small, clear area, in a bit of a sting ray shape that has a hole in the middle. In that hole there is a 3”, pretty standard key chain. The tiny connector will have the words BALL CHAIN faintly inscribed on it. Ball Chain is the company, in business since 1938 that made the chains for the Sea Hunt medallion.
I have gone into detail on the description of this medallion because there are many copies on the market. I never fault people who have a copy because at least it shows their interest in Sea Hunt – but they are copies just the same.
Some of the copies are made of aluminum, some are brass, some are silver and I have seen some made of gold. Usually the copies include most of the tiny details that I’ve described but with patience you can soon tell if it’s a genuine Sea Hunt medallion or not.
The fun part is trying to determine its origin. Maybe it was handed out by Lloyd Bridges himself – a very special Sea Hunt item for sure. RR 4
I have a similar item in my collection that I got several years ago. It’s a small replica of a brass Commercial Divers Helmet, commonly known as a Mark V Helmet. These helmet key chains are not uncommon but this one is a bit different. It appears to be very well made. This is not a cheap, thin brass toy to hang from your house key. It is quite heavy, about 1” in diameter and made from good quality brass. It has the usual front glass window and 3 other windows for the diver – one on top and one of each side. Only the front window has glass. The others are much smaller and simply have 4 holes drilled in them.
What makes it nicer than most other similar, dime store helmet key chains, is that each window is separately made and inset into the helmet. This key chain was NOT mass produced or spit out of a machine. It required a considerable amount of time and effort to produce.
On the top at the back there is another hole into which a pin is inserted from the inside. The pin has a hole in the outer end which holds a brass ring, connected to 3 nautical-style links and a screw-lock style key ring.
All in all it is very well made and that sets it apart from most of the very similar helmet key chains.
Also, being a natural sceptic, I inquired about its origin and learned that It came from a company based in Los Angeles called Costume Collection. They specialize in providing unique items required for television and movies productions. The tag that came with this helmet key chain claims it was given to and carried by the cast and crew of Sea Hunt. RR 4
Sea Hunt was one of the first (if not the first) television shows to be syndicated. Simply put, that means that the producer sold the show to TV distribution networks to be re-sold to local television studios and thus broadcast around the country. Originally, local TV studios made their own shows using local talent or hiring talent to travel to the studio to make a show.
“Ziv Television Programs, Inc., after establishing itself as a major radio syndicator, was the first major first-run television syndicator, creating several long-lived series in the 1950s and selling them directly to regional sponsors, who in turn sold the shows to local stations. Ziv’s first major TV hit was The Cisco Kid. Ziv had the foresight to film the Cisco Kid series in color, even though color TV was still in its infancy and most stations did not yet support the technology. Among the most widely seen Ziv offerings were Sea Hunt, I Led Three Lives, Highway Patrol and Ripcord.” Wikipedia
To promote their television station and the various shows, ZIV, regional distributors and local television studios promoted their station and their shows in a variety of ways. Newpaper ads were common as were the popular and varied TV Guides. Before the days of computers and smart TVs, every family got their TV watching guidance from a TV Guide or the TV guide in a local newspaper.
Another device used to promote a TV show or a television studio was clip-on badges. I have two of these in my collection.
A. ‘SEE Sea Hunt ON TV’ – 4″ metal badge
This badge is very simple. It just says “See Sea Hunt on TV”. It may have been produced by ZIV or by the distributor. If a local TV station had made it, they would likely have include their own television station identifier.
The badge is 4” in diameter, made of 2 pieces of metal. The first piece is the outside which is printed with the message and the other is the inside to which the lapel pin is attached. This piece was then pressed into the outside piece. The printing is very light green although it may have faded over the past 60 years. It has a nautical-style rope printed around the outside edge.
There are no other marks or identification of any kind. RR 4
B. ‘Watch Sea Hunt WRGB TV’ – 2” metal badge
This badge is quite neat. Smaller at only 2”, it’s printed on a bright red background and features Mike Nelson (we assume) on the front with the message “ Watch Sea Hunt Saturday 6:30 P.M. Ch 6 WRGB-TV”.
This is a much more specific message and was undoubtedly made by the local TV station, in this case WRGB. This station, by the way, based in Albany, New York, was one of the first experimental TV stations in the world first starting broadcasts in 1928.
The badge is made the same way as the 4” badge but perhaps more solidly. The 2 pieces are neatly folded securely together rather than just pressed together.
The image is of a diver underwater wearing typical Mike Nelson gear – double tanks, 2 hose reg and carrying a speargun. Pretty cool! RR 4
SNAP is a company in London, England that made cigarette cards for many companies who wanted to promote their products via cigarette cards.
Cigarette cards were a popular way to advertise. The idea started in the late 1800s. Cigarette companies started putting a stiff card in the packs to strengthen them. They soon realized the cards were a great advertising medium and cigarette cards were born. Early cards featured sports heroes but soon everything was being advertised on cigarette cards.
ATV (Associated TeleVision) was a primary television broadcast company in England and they arranged to have the TV stars of the day featured on SNAP cigarette cards. Several series were made both pre-1940 and post-1940 Televisio0n and movie stars featured. Each series contained 50 cards and they became favorites of collectors.
This card is from the SNAP ATV Movie Stars series of late 1950s. There are 50 cards in the set. This is #23, “Lloyd Bridges Sea Hunt” which shows Mike Nelson fully geared up on a boat.
The back of the card, as with all of them, simply shows the name SNAP for Snap Card Products Ltd. Finchley Road, London and the ATV Logo (a shadowed eye).
The card is slightly larger than a business card, about 2 5/8” x 3 ¾” – exactly the right size to fit into a traditional cigarette pack.