Iconic actress, aquatic stunt woman passes away at age 91.
Stuntwoman; actress; model; Weeki Wachee mermaid; from the waters of Weeki Wachee to the bright lights of Hollywood-style movie productions, Ginger Stanley Hallowell has made her watermark on this cultural landscape.
This Orlando resident was born on December 19, 1931, in Sandersville, Georgia, and died on January 19, 2023, at the age of 91, and during that long and distinguished life, Hallowell swam before audiences at two major Florida theme parks and across the silver screen.
“Ginger Stanley Hallowell was one of the key figures in Florida’s Golden Age of Roadside Attractions,” explained Florida Historian Rick Kilby in an interview with The Hernando Sun. “Ginger worked as a mermaid at Weeki Wachee, recruited by the legendary Newt Perry, and then was one of the primary models for Underwater Photographer Bruce Mozert at Silver Springs. She elevated posing underwater into an art form, all while holding her breath and being surrounded by all forms of aquatic flora and fauna. In one of my favorite images from Silver Springs, she holds a turtle while surrounded by eelgrass while flashing her million-dollar smile, while her blonde hair floats effortlessly. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have met this classy, delightful lady in person.”
This one-time Weeki Wachee mermaid was a professional stunt woman credited on the Internet Movie Database as a professional underwater stunt woman who performed in the films “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” a cult hit, “Jupiter’s Darling,” “Revenge of the Creature” and “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” acting as a body double for legends like Esther Williams, Julie Adams, and Lori Nelson. As an actress, she has appeared in the movies “Distant Drums,” “The Meal,” the mermaid-themed “Splash, Too,” and the smash-hit “Passenger 57.” She also appeared in a pair of documentaries concerning “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “Creature Feature: 60 Years of the Gill-Man,” and “Creature Feature: 50 Years of the Gill-Man.”
“She lived a full and wonderful life and is well known among movie history fans for her roles in the underwater scenes with Ricou Browning in ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ and then ‘Revenge of the Creature,’” read her obituary at Dignity Memorial.
It all started for Hallowell in the waters of Weeki Wachee Springs where, according to the article “Bathing Beauty in the Creature Feature” by Rick Kilby in the blog Old Florida, she was an Ocala beauty queen discovered by Newton Perry, founder of Weeki Wachee Springs, to become a mermaid performer at the Hernando County theme park. (https://tinyurl.com/2mm2hacw).
“She was very pleasant and charming,” said John Athanason, tourism marketing specialist of the Hernando County Government and one-time marketing & PR director of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. “She loved her time at Weeki Wachee and spoke often about it.”
Hallowell, inducted into the Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid Hall of Fame, returned to Weeki Wachee for the park’s 60th and 65th-anniversary celebrations. “I was sad to learn of Ginger’s passing. I had met Ginger on several occasions at the reunions we held at Weeki Wachee in years past,” said Athanason. “I contacted her this past year because I wanted to include her in the mermaid memories series we did for the park’s 75th anniversary. At that time, she was just getting out of the hospital and moving to another home. She said she needed a little time to get settled in and would call me. Unfortunately, we were not able to connect.”
Hallowell also performed as a professional swimmer at Silver Springs, where she was a favorite model of pioneering underwater photographer Bruce Mozert. At one point, she journeyed to New York to present an underwater weather report on The Garry Moore Show for guest host Dick van Dyke. Eventually, she settled in Orlando, where she pursued a modeling career, taught modeling, and hosted the local television show, Browsing with Ginger. She married Al Hallowell and had three children, Dawn, Heather, and Shannon. She is survived by daughters Heather Hallowell Bodiford and Shannon Hallowell Schemmer, her granddaughter Courtney Gaba, and grandsons Andrew and Brett Bodiford and Zane, Slade, and Case Schemmer. Her service will be conducted Friday, February 3, 2023, at 2 pm at Woodlawn Memorial Park and Funeral Home at 400 Woodlawn Cemetery Road, Gotha, Florida, west of Orlando.
“The tourism industry has lost an icon,” said Kilby.