Marshall Thompson interview

Here is a nice piece on Marshall Thompson and how the animals were the stars of the show. His quiet and steady presence was too. His creative input into Season 2 made it by far the best season and I wish the higher-ups at CBS had followed his lead better. Thompson really cared about the content of the show and making the lives of animals better.

Thanks to our friend Walter for finding this:



Newly found photos of Marshall Thompson and Yale Summers

For you Marshall Thompson and Yale Summers fans who feel neglected, here’s some newly found photos of our favorite Daktari stars:

Marshall Thompson

Yale Summers


What happened to Africa U.S.A.? Details on the flooding which destroyed the compound

Recently a reader known as “squeapler” left a series of lengthy comments on the post about Africa U.S.A. (The story of Africa, U.S.A. and its proprietors, animal trainer Ralph Helfer and Daktari producer Ivan Tors) regarding the floods which destroyed the compound. I decided to create a blog post to highlight these comments as they give a full story as to what happened.

My thanks to “squeapler” for this wonderful information!

gentle benHello again. I found a little more information about the floods at Africa USA in doing my research for “Gentle Ben”, based on California newspapers from the 1960s I accessed through Newspapers.com. It seems like there were indeed two major floods. The first one, which is the one discussed in the Cleveland Amory TV Guide article, happened in Dec. 1965 and is the one that caused Bruno the bear (later the main actor in “Gentle Ben”) to be swept away. He returned on his own a few days later. Several other animals were also mentioned as missing but perhaps not drowned as the news articles mention that the chewed carcass of a cow was found, giving the impression that one of the big cats had eaten it.

The second flood occurred in January 1969 and seems to have been much worse. Prior to this flood, Tors was planning to open the compound to the public for tours and had sought a zoning variance to do so. However, when the flood occurred the water rose so quickly that apparently not all the animals could be rescued from their cages in time, and were shot to prevent them from drowning. The animals that were shot included 3 lions, a jaguar, two tigers, and one or two bears (not Bruno as he went on to appear in 1970s films).

daktaritvshow.wordpress.com daktari season 3 cheryl miller paula tracy yale summers jack dane

Then on Feb. 25, 1969, there was apparently more flooding (the news article talks about there being two 100-year floods in 30 days) and two alligators and two hippos broke loose and were seen going down the flood-swollen Santa Clarita river. A spokesman for Africa USA was quoted as saying the animals were extremely dangerous and once the flood subsided, “big game hunters would attempt to destroy them from helicopters.”

Shortly thereafter, there was a $50,000 fire also at the complex, although no animals were hurt.

Animal affection trainer Ralph Helfer in the 1960s

Animal affection trainer Ralph Helfer in the 1960s

After this, Tors decided to concentrate on his planned “Torsland” park in Florida (which I understand from the documentary on him, never happened, although he did have a number of his animals at the Homosassa Springs Attraction in Florida through the 70s) and Helfer decided to abandon the Africa USA complex and move the operation to a new location near Fillmore in Ventura County.

It seems like in the “Beauty of the Beasts” account, Helfer (or some editor) conflated the two floods as the article talks about shooting “Gentle Ben” and then having Bruno wash away. “Gentle Ben” and “Gentle Giant” did not come out until 1967 which to me would mean that they were probably filmed during 1966 at the earliest (possibly even early 1967) so it seems unlikely that they were shooting “Gentle Ben” in 1965.

photo provided by Ken Lynch

photo provided by Ken Lynch

Here are some of the newspaper sources I used. There are lots more than this on Newspapers.com – the local California papers covered all of this in pretty good detail.
“All you need is a Coke and stout heart”, Redlands Daily Facts, Dec. 31, 1965, p. 2.
“Wild Animals on Loose – Swept away by Los Angeles Floods,” Eureka Humboldt Standard, Jan. 18, 1966, p. 2.
“Three Dead Lions Reported Stolen From Africa, U.S.A.,” Redlands Daily Facts, Jan. 31, 1969, p. 3.
“6 More Victims of South State Storm,” San Mateo Times, Feb. 26, 1969, p. 12.
“Africa U.S.A. Fire,” Long Beach Independent, Mar. 4, 1969, p. A-7.
“Tors Will Abandon Flood-Damaged Africa U.S.A.,” Fresno Bee, Apr. 13, 1969, p. 12-A.
“HELP – They Don’t Quit,” San Bernarndino County Sun, Feb. 20, 1970, p. B-5.
” ‘Africa’ Opening,” Long Beach Independent, Jan. 26, 1971, p. A-8.

Check out this post for the exact location of Africa U.S.A:  Just where was Africa U.S.A.?? Now we know …


See Cheryl Miller in a Dodge Commercial

I found this video on YouTube — fast forward to 0:49:


Have a story to share? Now featuring Daktari Fan Fiction!

Have you written stories about Daktari where you’ve imagined yourself as part of the action? Several of our readers have done so and I am happy to post such stories on this site.

Here are some simple guidelines:

  1. Stories should run between 600 and 1000 words. I cannot accept longer stories but will consider serializing longer stories if I believe they will be of interest to my readers.
  2. Contact me at daktaritvshow@gmail.com with an initial inquiry and a summary of your story. DO NOT send any unsolicited stories as they will not be read. If I believe the story will interest our readers, I will request that you send me the story.
  3. Once I have decided I want to run a story, please submit it as an attached Microsoft Word file. Do NOT put in any extra returns (but you can add points between paragraphs). Please do not format the text in any way (no indents, headers, etc.). Please do NOT use a double space at the end of a sentence.
  4. Before sending, check carefully for correct spelling and grammar.
  5. People are likely to comment on your story–please be prepared for that.

I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your stories!



I found my Cheryl Miller scrapbook!

Recently while cleaning out the basement I found my Cheryl Miller scrapbook! I had been totally convinced that I had thrown it away because the cover had been covered with battery acid but thankfully I was wrong.

Now I am going to share it with you!

The book is quite disorganized as you will see — I was twelve when I assembled it and had no sense of order. 🙂 I plan however on restoring the book and organizing it better.

Giveaways coming!

I have many duplicates of some of the glossy photos and they are in good shape. Over the summer we’ll devise some contests so that you can enter for a chance to win a glossy photo of our girl! Stay tuned.

And now for the big reveal … click here to view my scrapbook.



RIP Erin Moran

I was so sorry to hear of Erin Moran’s untimely demise. Here is a tribute to the cute little girl who was loved by man’s best friends, and all her friends on Daktari and Happy Days. RIP Erin.

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Rarities! Two vintage promos and a spotting of the soundtrack album

So my brother-in-law who lives near LA sends me a text message with this picture:

He considered getting it for me but said the vinyl was in poor condition. <sigh!> This is one item I have wanted since I was a kid. Oh well. It’s a record store somewhere near LA if someone wants to find it. 🙂

Our friend Ken from Down Under sent these awesome vintage promos for Daktari. Do any of you remember these? I immediately recognized the episodes: