Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Super ‘70s and ‘80s: Sea World superheroes water ski show—the skiers, part 10 of 10

Introduction to series “Super ‘70s and ‘80s.”

Introduction to subseries “Sea World superheroes show” (including list of interviewees).

Skiers, part 9 of 10—the skiers' lives today.

SWSH = Sea World superheroes


Do you have any film footage of the SWSH show?

Andy Hansen: I might have a few Super 8 (no sound) shots my mom and dad took of my brother Roger and me.
Cindy Barhoff (Clasen): I did, but my husband taped over it (Ohio State/Michigan game). What’s more important?

What other memorabilia, if any, did you save from the SWSH show (posters, programs/souvenir booklets, etc.)?

Linda Knapp (Moffett): I wish I had taken more pictures and that we could have had the technology back then that we have today. I have some photos and a few show programs in boxes in the attic. I also wish I had pictures taken with Sunja and me. She was a very neat animal and it is sometimes hard to convince people that I worked with a water skiing elephant.

Odd that neither Superman and Batman (the most popular characters) nor
Aquaman (the unofficial star of this show) are on the cover of this program.

I managed to find and interview just about everybody listed here.

Randy Messer
: I have the superhero ski show poster and I bet there aren’t too many left.

Jeff Parnell: Nothing. I was young and not thinking about tomorrow. My biggest regret is not having pictures to show my kids. I have often thought about asking Sea World if I could look thru their photo archives and get copies. Maybe that is something you might try. Have you done that already?
Andy Hansen: A few photos. Really not enough for all of the memories.

How do you look back at your time with the SWSH show?

Al Kelley: Great experience with several people that I really valued and would love to see again.
Betsy Maher (Hawkins): It was a blast! Staying in shape and getting paid to water ski. Meeting some very talented and wonderful friends.

Margie LaPoint (Bates) and Doby Buesse

Bill Peterson
: Was the break I was looking for to get into water skiing full time.

Bill Schwartz: One of the best times of my life. I was lucky to be able to be part of the Sea World water ski team. It was a great stepping stone in my life and the friendships there are deep and eternal.
Bubby Snow: They were the best times of my life.
Carl Lipsit: Great memories, lots of fun, good camaraderie, killer tan, and most importantly, I got paid to ski! How can you beat a gig like that, especially when still attending high school?
Cindy Barhoff (Clasen): One of the greatest memories in my life collection. I still share it with my class every year.
Dave Madeline: I’d do it again. Most everybody that you talk to would probably say they would do it again. It’s such a good job for a young person. I think I wasted a good portion of my life there. I wasn’t a doctor, I was a water skier. A lot of them went to college and did this on the side for the summer. It was a good way to get through college.
Diane Smith: I am old now and have lived a full and rewarding life. I have experienced numerous now-forgotten events, but I will forever remember those few years that I was a Sea World show skier. Hopefully, with [your] interviews, these memories will remain even when I am gone, as now, for the first time (thanks to your project), they are written and will be preserved and then shared with my children and their children. Thank you for collecting my remembrances and those of the outstanding athletes who were the superheroes of Sea World. It was the most special (and hardest) thing I ever did.
Gary Thompson: One of the best shows we ever did! It revolutionized ski shows forever. It was essentially the beginning of truly themed water ski shows that presented characters and told a story. Story-driven shows versus exhibition water skiing.
Greg Galloway: It was my favorite show of all the ones I skied in.
Janalee Zimmerman (Addleman): I loved it! It was the best memory to have made! My parents were nuts to let me do that at such a young age! But I’m glad they did! :-)
John Gillette: Great memories, fun time, rich relationships, some of which I maintain today.
Linda Knapp (Moffett): It played a large part of me growing up. I often wonder what happened to some of the skiers. It was a lot of hard work and was definitely a lesson on working as a team. I am really glad that I was able to ski professionally even though I am paying now with annoying body aches.
Mark Gutleben: It was fun skiing and playing around in the sun.
Mary McMurtrie: The best time of my life. An amazing opportunity with the most fun people I have ever met.

Nancy Radant Combes: Would not have traded it for anything.
Paula Nelson (Bloemer): Since you have me reflecting, I think it probably was a great preparation for me later joining the circus (my favorite job ever). We were asked to learn a myriad of stunts and tricks and paid to do it. Before Nike’s motto “Just Do It,” water skiers had [the] motto “Go For It.” Having come from an arts and dance background, I was rather confounded by their passion and intensity for the sport. But that is why they didn’t mind the costumes—they were doing what they loved.
Randy Messer: For most of the skiers, I imagine the draw was the skiing with the superhero aspect secondary. I was an art major with my eye on becoming a comic strip artist like Charles Schulz (still has yet to happen) so for me, the combo of skiing and superheroes was a dream come true. I woke up every morning anxious to go to work. It was a dream of mine since the age of five (1958-59) when on vacation I saw a Cypress Gardens ski show. As a lad growing up in a small Iowa town I could not imagine a better job. When Sea World called to say I was hired, I had $200 dollars left to my name which was just enough to get me back to Iowa if nothing panned out in Florida. I rose through the ranks and loved almost every minute and would never have left were it not for having to choose between marrying Robbi or staying with Sea World. Fortunately I was hired by Marine World Africa USA to run their ski show. I always regretted leaving Sea World.
Shirley Duke: It started out as just a summer job between college, but if you’d observe your surroundings, it taught me a lot about corporate America, good leadership, hiring people with the right skills and talents, providing resources that allow your people to perform to the best of their abilities.
Steve Fontaine: Some of my most happy and carefree memories. Of course, I had no money then but I had fun anyway.
Suzanne Schwartz: With complete and utter fondness and nostalgia. We consider ourselves so lucky to have worked for Sea World (we both worked there for about 10 years) and to have been a part of the ski show. To be able to make a living (albeit meager) by performing with an incredible team of people was just a joy. Sharkey and I have the extra bonus of sharing those memories together...so we can still reflect on them together today.

Do you have a favorite memory about the SWSH show?

Al Kelley: Tom Weber not going up in the kite and the kite landing on the roof of the stadium; scary situation that was diverted due to the driving of Dave Madeline. Tom was attempting to fly in a hang glider that was attached to the boat that Dave was driving with a 1,000-foot rope. As the boat accelerates, the kite rises to about 700 feet then releases from the rope and the pilot free flies the hang glider onto the stage at the end of the show. Tom did not strap himself in on this flight so the kite went up by itself; thanks to quick thinking and driving, Dave was able to steer the hang glider away from the audience of about 3,000 people.
Christina Ashley: Meeting Dan Poor, a high diver in the show. We were a couple and really had a wonderful life together while we were at Sea World. We are still good friends today.
Cindy Barhoff (Clasen): Whenever the song “We Are Family” comes on the radio, I think of Sea World. We were together 24/7, and that was one of our warm-up songs.
Dave Madeline: There are so many good things. One year at Christmastime the superheroes pushed disabled kids around the park. I was a boat driver and dressed as the Penguin. We weren’t skiing, just taking them to the whale shows and showing them different things. It was a big, big deal.
Diane Smith: I lived many miles from Sea World at the time and shortly after beginning there, I decided to be adventurous and I drove my Yamaha (“Today is the Day”) motorcycle all the way to work. Part of the trip was via the “Bee Line” (now known as the “Beach Line,” a major highway). I wore my required Sea World uniform and with my nearly knee-length, blonde hair, braided down my back and hanging from behind my helmet like a show-pony’s tail, I arrived at the park without incident, though some of the guys with whom I worked advised that I should not repeat this as it was dangerous. I was proud that day since my adventure was new. When I entered the ski department, the female lead, Gay Peteet, said, “That is not all that you will be accomplishing for the first time today. You will also be going to the top of the pyramid as Supergirl.” After those two new challenges, it became routine to ride my motorcycle to work and to perform as “top girl.” Also, I especially remember my first day and my last one. Both times, I did not want the experience to end.
Doby Buesse: The night shows were a blast. I always thought they were better from a spectator viewpoint. The action is more focused because of the spotlights. Skiing in the dark was a thrill. With the bright spotlights you could only see the water directly in front of your skis. Made you feel like you were traveling faster than you really were.
Greg Galloway: The Penguin costume was awesome.
Jacque Cook (Kuntarich): It was the dream job. I wrote Gary Thompson to say thank you for giving me my best job of my whole life. After that, Dan Poor said the same thing. I had a kick-ass job (most recently) but Sea World was the coolest.
Jeff Parnell: When it was cold, if you sprayed another skier, that was war. John Macqueen sprayed me with the boat one day so after the show I clamped his fuel line on his boat so he had just enough fuel to get out to the set and drop off his skiers then he would run out and be a sitting duck. I’m not sure how many times I sprayed him but I remember how good it was. One show I was Robin and Greg Galloway was Batman. We got the kid in the boat and while the bad guys were chasing us Greg (Batman) was asking this poor kid about girls and beer. I was wondering what this kid was going to say to his parents when he got back to his seat. Well, we never heard from his parents or their attorney, so that was good. To this day I wonder what that kid thinks about Batman and Robin.
Kaci Whittenton (Hedstrum): All the laughter on land and water and special friends made.
Kerry Lloyd: Just being so healthy skiing. Still healthy now. I’ve hit golf balls every day for the past 11 years. There’s a really good chance you’ll see me playing a Senior Tour in golf.
Linda Knapp (Moffett): There’s nothing quite like landing on the beach and hearing several thousand people applauding for you.
Lori Taylor: How terrible we all looked in the Supergirl wig.
Mark Gutleben: It was quite exciting to learn back barefoot.
Roland Hillier: The opportunity to go to the country of Jordan and teach the royal family and be the coach of the Royal Jordanian Ski Team.
Sherry Wickstrom: Yes: 1) meeting my first love, Dave; 2) taking measurements for the costumes, the magic acts, the elephant.
Steve Fontaine: Partying with my buddies and going to nickel night at Rosie O’Grady’s. But nothing compares to the feeling you get when the fans goes wild.
Suzanne Schwartz: There are sooooooo many…I don’t think there is one that stands out. Opening night of a new show…the funeral of “Flash” the goldfish…doing the Boca Raton road show…some of the antics in the locker room…

Lois Lane—Nancy Radant Combes, Catwoman (sans mask)—Mary McMurtrie,
—Annette Botti (Hoffman), Mera—Sherry Satterfield Runion, Black Canary—Diane Smith,
pink tank top
—Shirley Duke, Wonder Woman—Linda Knapp (Moffett)

Could you guys get back in the water now and still do any of it?

Betsy Maher (Hawkins): Yes. Good idea for a reality show.
Al Kelley: Absolutely, although I wouldn’t last as long…55 and not getting any younger!
Bill Peterson: Some of it. Probably many are too out of shape to do the more difficult acts.
Bill Schwartz: Yes, as a matter of fact a small group of us got together [the summer of 2009] and put on a small ski show here in Orlando. On [the small downtown] lake [where I live] is a small restaurant called Julie’s Waterfront. Julie herself is a avid skier and has always catered to fellow skiers. She asked us to put on a ski show for her 25th anniversary. We quickly called in a few former Sea World skiers and incorporated them with our fellow lake skiers to put together a show ski team. Of the group of skiers who were in the superhero show were myself, Nancy Radant Combes, Mary McMurtrie, and Greg Galloway. We had children ages four to nine perform in the show as well. And the star was a skiing dog. The restaurant promoted the event and it was a full house of her regular guests, fellow lakefront owners, and friends of the skier families. The show was a big success and we decided to make it a annual event.

Cindy Barhoff (Clasen): I was only a summer employee, but the full time people could probably do it in their sleep.
Diane Smith: Yes, but you must allow practicing with each other a bit before you watch! Skiing is a sport you and your muscles don’t forget.
Gary Thompson: Some could.
Greg Galloway: Absolutely. Within the last year Nancy Combes and I did a doubles routine at a show with some old skiers.
Janalee Zimmerman (Addleman): YES! OF COURSE!
Jody Spence: Sure, some of it!
John Gillette: Most probably could do something, but not like we did.
Kaci Whittenton (Hedstrum): After a personal trainer has about a year to work with me!
Linda Knapp (Moffett): I like to think that I can, however we’re not getting any younger!
Mary McMurtrie: ABSOLUTELY.
Nancy Radant Combes: Some of us put on a show in October 2009. So much fun!
Paula Nelson (Bloemer): I do not think I could, but I’m sure some of the others could.
Randy Messer: Can’t speak for others but I could.
Roland Hillier: Not even a chance.
Sherry Wickstrom: Yes, with a couple of practices, no problem.
Shirley Duke: At the 10-year reunion nobody had changed; I bet we could’ve built a pyramid. Now maybe that’s a little different. The “pilot light” is still flickering but you never know. As I said, I still have all my equipment.
Steve Fontaine: I’d like to think so!
Suzanne Schwartz: Sure! Errrr…some of it!
Andy Hansen: LOL! Sure. It wouldn’t look quite the same, though.
Jeff Parnell: Sure, as long as someone pays the hospital or work comp bills.
Doby Buesse: I could do most of it but I would feel it the next day.
Carl Lipsit: Of course we could. Superheroes never age!

In Las Vegas in 2010, I was thrilled to be able to meet in person two of the skiers, Jody Spence and Reyna Blasko:

Next: Superman: The Movie.


Anonymous said...

I just want to say Thank you for these articles and the articles on Legends of the Super Heroes. I lived in Ohio but never got the chance to see the water show. I didn't get to Sea world until my teens. I wished I had the chance to have seen these shows.
I did remember watching the Legends of the Super Heroes and have it on DVD now. Of course, I loved it growing up.
You and I have a lot of common. :)
I also remember seeing a live stage show when I was little with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. I have been trying to research that but haven't found anything yet. That is how I came across your blog. Great job! Keep it up.

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Thanks Keith. Is does not include Superman, but is this the live stage show you are remembering: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2011/09/super-70s-and-80s-bugs-bunny-meets.html?

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