Mermaids vingtage on the set of Peter Pan, 1924.

Kane Khanh | History
May 14, 2024

Ain’t She Sweet?

There is something particularly charming about a vintage mermaid costume. Be it for a movie, pageant or floor show. It combines pinup sexiness with demure innocence, in a mystical fantasy package. Here are a few of my favorite examples of mermaids from yesteryear.


1918 Queen of the Sea

This picture shows the failry rudimentry costume of Annette Kellerman in her title role in the silent movie Merrilla, the Queen of the Sea.

Kellerman was a strong swimmer who appeared as a mermaid in multiple films including Neptune’s Daughter (clips shown below).

1948 Mr Peabody and the Mermaid

In this movie a middle-aged Bostonian captured a mermaid and takes her home to live in his bathtub.

Ann Blyth plays the mermaid who is mute but whom Mr. Peabody names Lenore. She practiced for a week before the move in order to be able to safely swim in the costume.

The character of Lenore does not speak at all throughout the movie, although she does laugh and sing (without using words).


1948 Miranda

In this movie (1948 was a good year for mermaids) Miranda rescues and becomes enamored with a doctor. Unlike Mr Peabody and the Mermaid (a US production) Miranda was filmed in the United Kingdom.

The mermaid is played by Glynis Johns.


1961 Night Tide

A sailor (played by Dennis Hopper) comes to suspect a sideshow mermaid may be the real thing. Mora the possibly literal siren is played by Linda Lawson. The only costume that appears is the one Mora wears in a carnival side show, but she still turns out to be deadly in the water.

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The Two Tailed Mermaid


1962 Mermaids of Tiburon

This movie stared Diane Webber as the mermaid queen, amongst a whole school of mermaids that help a diver discover treasure.

The movies was re-edited and released several times with varying levels of topless exposure. It was released in 1962, mainly on military bases.



1962 Miss Universe

Miss Universe 1962 was Miss Norma Nolan. Nolan was the first woman from Argentina to win the title.

She is pictured here visiting Weeki Wachi Springs, lending her crown to the mermaid Bonita–and being considerably upstaged.

Weeki Wachi still has a live mermaid show, a feature of the resort since 1947.