Professional salvage divers Larry and Drake (later replaced by Mike) made their livings braving the dangers of the deep recovering sunken wrecks off the Southern California coast. ...
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Professional salvage divers Larry and Drake (later replaced by Mike) made their livings braving the dangers of the deep recovering sunken wrecks off the Southern California coast. Frequently, these assignments brought them into conflict with more human dangers from people who wanted to reach the wrecks first, or who had a vested interest in seeing that what had been sent to the bottom stayed there. Midway through the program's run, the divers moved their shop to Malibu, and name of the show became "Malibu Run". Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
Keith Larsen, Jeremy Slate and Ron Ely in peak form
"The Aquanauts" (1960-61) was basically an hour-long version of the
wonderful "Sea Hunt". Both shows were produced by ZIV productions,
which always did good work. But "The Aquanauts" was on the CBS network,
rather than being syndicated like most other ZIV shows.
Thirty-six year old Keith Larson ("Brave Eagle", "Northwest Passage")
played hero Drake Andrews, a former Navy frogman who now took
free-lance assignments. Larson was a very attractive, extremely
well-built, low-key actor who made a fine series lead. (Larsen was
married at the time to elegant Vera Miles, who had previously been
married to Tarzan actor Gordon Scott. Vera Miles must have had a
weakness for beautiful men with beautiful bodies. No wonder Hitchcock
didn't get anywhere with her.)
The great Jeremy Slate, age 34, played Larsen's blond side-kick Larry
Lahr, but the show mostly focused on Larsen.
Keith Larsen was terrific in all three of his series, but luck wasn't
on his side. Larsen developed an ear infection that wouldn't allow him
to skin dive. He had to leave "The Aquanauts". (On the show, they said
Drake Andrews went back into the Navy.) Larsen never had another show
although he certainly deserved one. He actually only had one more job
on TV- as a guest star on "The Roaring Twenties". Larsen did some
directing (including a film with Dennis Weaver and Vera Miles.) His
marriage to the delightful Vera eventually ended.
Twenty-two year old Ron Ely came in to replace Larsen. Ely played Mike
Madison. Jeremy Slate and Ron Ely alternated from week to week as to
who got top billing. Slate and Ely were two young, vital, attractive
guys, and they were both good actors. They had fine chemistry together.
Slate's character was more emotional and less mature while Ely was more
of an intellectual.
The show's title was soon changed to "Malibu Run". Slate and Ely opened
a shop in Malibu that sold skin diving equipment. The name of the store
was "The Aquanauts". The boys did skin diving jobs on the side. But the
skin diving became a little less the focus of the show. It was now more
an adventure/crime show revolving around two charismatic, romantic
"Malibu Run" emphasized the glamor of the boys' lives. Larry Lahr and
Mike Madison lived at the posh Holdiay House in Malibu. They each had a
stylish bachelor pad at the hotel, with a view of the ocean. They drove
cool sports cars. And the woman they met were spectacular.
The guest stars were just as attractive and appealing as the leads.
They included Peter Falk, Inger Stevens, Dyan Cannon, Burt Reynolds,
Mary Tyler Moore, William Conrad, Telly Savalas, Anne Helm, Yvonne
Craig, Leslie Parrish, Donna Douglas and Susan Oliver.
Four of "The Magnificent Seven" also guest starred: Robert Vaughn,
James Coburn, Charles Bronson and Brad Dexter. Steve McQueen's "Wanted:
Dead or Alive" was on right after "The Aquanauts". "The Magnificent
Seven" was released in October 1960, just about the time "The
Carroll O'Connor had a recurring role in a couple of episodes as a
"The Aquanauts" was on Wednesday nights at 7:30 eastern time, competing
against "Wagon Train" with Robert Horton and "Hong Kong" with Rod
Taylor. The time slot was sort of a battle of the network he-men.
"Wagon Train" got the best ratings and the other two series were
canceled, although they were both fine efforts.
Astonishingly, Jeremy Slate never had another series despite his
excellent work here. But he became a hot guest star, and he gave superb
performances on "Route 66" (as a surfer), "Gunsmoke" (as a likable
young man who saves Matt Dillon's life but who gets hanged at the end)
and "Empire" (as a likable young ranch hand with a mysterious past who
winds up in a deadly boxing match with Ryan O'Neal). Slate also guest
starred on "The Defenders", "Naked City", "The Untouchables" and
"Combat". Producer Hal Wallis (who jump started the careers of Kirk
Douglas and Burt Lancaster) signed Jeremy to a film contract, but movie
stardom didn't happen. With the right breaks, maybe Jeremy might have
been another Kirk Douglas.
Jeremy Slate and his then wife Tammy Grimes guest starred on "Tarzan",
which starred Slate's old partner Ron Ely. I hope Jeremy and Ron had a
lot of good times to remember.
Ron Ely starred in a revised version of "Sea Hunt" in 1987. The 49-year
old Ely was Mike Nelson, the role played by Lloyd Bridges in the
original. In this version, Mike Nelson had a lovely full grown daughter
who was his diving buddy.
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